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Large Hadron Collider breaks energy record at 13 TeVs

In Geneva, CERN's Large Hadron Collider has smashed protons at higher energy levels than ever before - the goal of two years of upgrades. Expect this record to be smashed again in June.

Scientists at the world's largest particle accelerator smashed beams of protons into each other at 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV) on Wednesday (20.05.2015), obliterating the previous record of eight set in 2012.

When particles are whipped around the 27-kilometer (17-mile) tunnel at 13 TeVs, they can "stray," slamming into sensitive equipment, such as magnets and detectors.

But researchers now hope the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is safe from itself.

The LHC has just undergone two years of

maintenance work and upgrades

. It has had "collimators" installed - a bit like concrete dividers on a highway - to protect the sensitive equipment from strays.

Now, billions of protons can be "kept in line" as they are accelerated in opposite directions to at least 99.9 percent the speed of light.

Those beams are then "bent" toward each other by magnets until their protons collide.

Four separate teams - each with their own array of sensors and questions - then sift through the subatomic rubble in a search for novel particles.

CERN 13 TeV Kollisionen

CMS (here), one of the four projects, including ALICE, ATLAS and LHCb (pictured up top)

In the past this led to the discovery of the particle which confers mass, the Higgs Boson.

One mystery many hope to see solved - even if it isn't the LHC's primary aim - is that of dark matter, which may make up to three quarters of the universe.

Tests are continuing Thursday, with the LHC team monitoring its new equipment to ensure the beams' quality and the optimization of the equipment.

In its upgraded form, the LHC can reach 14 TeV.

A second run is planned for early June.

cd/za (AFP, CERN)

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