On 3 June this year, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN began delivering particle collisions at an energy 63% higher than previously acheived. This week in Vienna, first physics results were presented. Here are some highlights
The European Physical Society High Energy Physics conference is taking place now in Vienna. This is the first big chance for the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to show off what they have managed to extract from the new data they have recorded since 3 June, when the LHC restarted particle collisions after a two-year break.
The new collisions are at a higher energy – 13 TeV¹ compared to the previous record of 8 TeV. Since we are bumping up against the speed-of-light barrier, this means the speed of the protons increases from 299 792 449 metres per second to 299 792 454 m/s (the speed of light is 299 792 458 m/s). An increase of only 5 m/s, which doesn’t sound terribly important. But speed is the wrong way to judge the significance of the increase. The main point of high energies in particle colliders is that they allow us to see into the heart of atoms and study the structure of matter at tiny distance scales; in a way the LHC is like a giant microscope. Turning up the energy is like turning up the power of the microscope, and we are eager to see what that might reveal.