On March 19, CERN reached an all-time energy record, managing to fire up two separate proton beams in opposite directions at 3.5 trillion electron volts (TeV). That’s huge. That amount of energy is equivalent to the energy created by a fully-loaded aircraft carrier going 8 knots (about 9 mph). In comparison, the next most powerful accelerator—the Tevatron at Fermilab in Illinois—can reach a maximum of nearly 1 TeV. Well, now CERN is stepping up its game. In the early hours of March 30, they’ll begin working the two proton beams into a collision course, reaching a new record of 7 TeV.
Steve Myers, CERN’s director for accelerators and technology, describes the challenge of lining up the beams as being akin to “firing needles across the Atlantic and getting them to collide half way.”
The scientists are looking for clues to the Higgs-Boson, the proverbial blank spot in the standard model of physics, the particle which allegedly gives mass to all the matter in the universe. They’re also looking for clues about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Please direct all black hole questions to the right.