Sunday marked the restart of the famed Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the 17-mile ring buried beneath a green, bucolic area of Switzerland through which scientists accelerate and collide beams of protons, about 600 million times per second, at nearly the speed of light.
This restart is an exciting thing: At the LHC, proton beams travel through a ring longer than the island of Manhattan thanks to electromagnets colder than outer space. All so scientists can, you know, decode the fundamental pieces of our universe. (Watch TED-Ed’s lesson on how a particle accelerator works here.)
For two years, the machine was shut down as hundreds of technicians and engineers and scientists of all kinds prepped the LHC to run at the highest energy ever achieved by an accelerator — 13 teraelectron volts — which has the potential to reveal information about our world we’ve yet to uncover, whether that’s evidence of new particles, proof for supersymmetry or more on the famed Higgs boson.
On Sunday, the first beam went through the collider, and more are to come. To prep you for this new frontier in science, 5 talks about what’s been found and what might be next at the LHC:
Is it worth building huge particle accelerators? | Piotr Skowronski | TEDxWarsaw
At TEDxWarsaw, physicist and machine linguist Piotr Skowronski answers probing questions about the LHC. (Why do we have it? What does it do?) Find out how the largest particle accelerator in the world contributes to not only unlocking the secrets of the universe, but advancements in the medical field and the creation of the World Wide Web.
Searching for the Genetic Code of our Universe | Joe Incandela | TEDxSalford
For two years, Joseph Incandela was the spokesperson of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Experiment at CERN, one of the two experiments to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson. At TEDxSalford, he shares what it’s like to work on a team of investigative scientists searching for the presence of an elusive particle, sharing findings and giving insight into what else is going around the LHC.
Journey to the early universe | Meenakshi Narain | TEDxMosesBrownSchool
Physicist Meenakshi Narain’s life work is to study the matter that manifested seconds after the Big Bang. At TEDxMosesBrownSchool, she explains the importance of understanding how basic particles (specifically quarks and leptons) react in order to comprehend how the universe evolved from day one.
Searching for the other 95% of the universe | Kevin Lannon | TEDxUND
Even with the discovery of the Higgs boson, the field of particle physics is far from complete. At TEDxUND, physicist Kevin Lannon points out that although this find is huge, the story is far from over.
Performance — the LHC remix | Tim Exile | TEDxCERN
This list would not be complete without celebratory dance music. Listen as DJ Tim Exile mixes sampled sounds from around CERN into some truly scientific beats.