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Proton smasher set to expand physics horizon

Proton smasher set to expand physics horizon

GENEVA: The world’s most powerful proton smasher is preparing for its biggest run yet, which scientists hope will uncover new particles of matter that could dramatically change our understanding of the universe.

“We are exploring truly fundamental issues, and that’s why this run is so exciting,” physicist Paris Sphicas said last week at Europe’s physics lab Cern. “Who knows what we will find.”

Late last year, before Cern shut down its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for a technical break, two teams of scientists said they had discovered anomalies that could possibly hint at the existence of a mysterious new particle. The discovery of a new particle could prove the existence of extra space-time dimensions, or explain the enigma of dark matter, scientists say.

The LHC, housed in a 27km tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border, has shaken up physics before.

In 2012 it was used to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson — the long-sought maker of mass — by crashing high-energy proton beams at velocities near the speed of light.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2016

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