If you listen close enough, you can hear the sounds of celebration coming from deep beneath the France-Switzerland border. The Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or as it is commonly referred to as, CERN, has inaugurated its’ latest addition since the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the linear accelerator Linac 4. Due to undergo an extensive testing period, it is expected to be actively connected to CERN’s accelerator complex during 2019-2020, when the system will be shut down for technical maintenance.
Linac 4 will feed the CERN accelerator complex with particle beams of high energy, enabling the LHC to reach much higher luminosity than previously achieved by Linac 2, Linac 4’s predecessor. The latter will replace Linac 2, which has been in service since 1978, and was the first addition to CERN’s accelerator chain. Fabiola Gianotti, CERN’s Director General, expressed the Council’s pleasure at being able to usher in a new age in physics research, per CERN’s press release:
“We are delighted to celebrate this remarkable accomplishment. Linac 4 is a modern injector and the first key element of our ambitious upgrade programme, leading up to the High-Luminosity LHC. This high-luminosity phase will considerably increase the potential of the LHC experiments for discovering new physics and measuring the properties of the Higgs particle in more detail.”
The Higgs boson, as it is otherwise known, was first observed thanks to the LHC in 2011 after first being theorized by theoretical physicist Peter Ware Higgs and his colleagues in 1964. Without getting into nitty-gritty detail about the science surrounding theoretical physics and particle properties, the Higgs boson can be described as the building block responsible for the behaviour of atoms and their ability to stick together. Understandably, it has often time been called the “God Particle”.
Linac 4 will be the most powerful accelerator available to science once it completes its’ lengthy trials. It possesses over three times the energy of Linac 2, and will be expected to contribute to the LHC’s projected increase in data and accuracy thanks to its’ unrivalled luminosity. Although it took almost 50 years for Higgs’ theory to be proven, and practically 10 years for the Linac 4 accelerator to be built, scientists are very confident that the wait will be worth it. Since scientists were able to discover and confirm the existence of the boson thanks to Linac 2, they believe that Linac 4’s abilities will help them observe never before seen processes.
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