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CERN scientists to restart Large Hadron Collider after three-year hiatus

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Scientists are preparing to reboot the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world this week, seeking to use it to solve the mystery of dark matter.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) shut down in 2018 so scientists at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) could improve and upgrade the accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. The work was extended and delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

CERN expects to restart the LHC sometime between Friday and Sunday, a representative told Space.com.

The LHC, which first launched in 2008, performed successfully for two previous runs. Its third run will operate for the next roughly three years before another pause for maintenance.

CERN tweeted on Wednesday that restarting the LHC was getting “closer and closer” and shared a video showcasing the improvements to the tech, including new parts and redesigned systems.

The 16-mile-long accelerator is housed inside a CERN facility tunnel about 328 feet underground. The LHC deploys superconducting magnets to boost particles through. Two high-energy particle beams travel at close to the speed of light before they collide at four separate points.

The LHC works to solve the Standard Model of particle physics, a theory describing the basic building blocks of the universe including particles called quarks, which make up protons and neutrons.

The theory is incomplete and has some limitations, including the unexplainable forces of dark matter and dark energy that make up most of the universe. Scientists hope the high energies produced inside the LHC could actually create dark matter.

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