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Taking the Large Hadron Collider to the Max

These four fixes will double the power of the world's greatest physics machine

4 min read
Taking the Large Hadron Collider to the Max
Sleep No More: The Atlas experiment, dormant for two years, will rumble back to life following several upgrades.
Photo: Claudia Marcelloni De Oliveira

Later this spring,scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, will restart the world’s biggest particle physics experiment, after a hiatus of two years. Beams of protons are scheduled to start circulating through the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in mid-March. Physicists hope to start smashing the protons together and recording data before midyear.

When it restarts, the LHC will be able to smash protons with nearly twice the energy it had before. Even at its previous power level researchers were able to use the LHC to find the Higgs boson. This particle—whose existence was predicted decades ago—explains why some particles have mass. But scientists hope that the higher-energy collisions will reveal some new (if more difficult to explain) discoveries, such as the elusive supersymmetric particles or even possible candidates for dark matter, the mysterious material that binds the universe together.

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Top Tech 2022: A Special Report

Preview two dozen exciting technical developments that are in the pipeline for the coming year

1 min read
Photo of the lower part of a rocket in an engineering bay.

NASA’s Space Launch System will carry Orion to the moon.

Frank Michaux/NASA

At the start of each year, IEEE Spectrum attempts to predict the future. It can be tricky, but we do our best, filling the January issue with a couple of dozen reports, short and long, about developments the editors expect to make news in the coming year.

This isn’t hard to do when the project has been in the works for a long time and is progressing on schedule—the coming first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, for example. For other stories, we must go farther out on a limb. A case in point: the description of a hardware wallet for Bitcoin that the company formerly known as Square (which recently changed its name to Block) is developing but won’t officially comment on. One thing we can predict with confidence, though, is that Spectrum readers, familiar with the vicissitudes of technical development work, will understand if some of these projects don’t, in fact, pan out. That’s still okay.

Engineering, like life, is as much about the journey as the destination.

See all stories from our Top Tech 2022 Special Report

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