The Large Hadron Collider is the largest particle accelerator on Earth, speeding particles up to mind-blowing speeds and literally smashing them into each other and observing the results. This way, scientists can probe the most fundamental aspects of reality.
The LHC has been undergoing repairs and upgrades for three years. On Tuesday, it restarted for a new "run," where it will continuously collide beams of particles at a record-breaking 13.6 trillion electronvolts (TeV), which is very close to lightspeed. The landmark moment of new high-energy collisions and data-taking beginning was broadcast live by CERN, the organization that operates the LHC.
During the live stream, the LHC ramped up, and then collisions began as scientists worked to perfectly align the tiny, powerful beams. Finally, each experiment confirmed they were prepared for collisions, and their sensors were flipped on, marking the beginning of run three's data-taking.
Run three is expected to generate more data than runs one and two combined, and will elucidate numerous fundamental questions about the universe. Topics to be investigated include the Higgs boson and dark matter, according to a press release:
"Scientists at the experiments will probe the nature of the Higgs boson with unprecedented precision and in new channels. They may observe previously inaccessible processes, and will be able to improve the measurement precision of numerous known processes addressing fundamental questions, such as the origin of the matter–antimatter asymmetry in the universe. Scientists will study the properties of matter under extreme temperature and density, and will also be searching for candidates for dark matter and for other new phenomena, either through direct searches or—indirectly—through precise measurements of properties of known particles."
As of Tuesday, July 5, 2022, a new era of particle physics has begun.