Physicists Celebrate Second Act of Large Hadron Collider

Several UC Riverside physicists are involved in research using one of the four particle detectors at the collider

Tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Photo credit: Julian Herzog.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Physicists at the University of California, Riverside are celebrating the restart of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. After two years of upgrades and repairs, proton beams once again circulated around the LHC, located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

“The LHC will finally reach the energy for which it was designed,” said Gail Hanson, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside. “Although we have discovered the Higgs boson, the expectation is that it is not the complete answer.  There needs to be other new physics to stabilize the picture – so-called ‘fine tuning.’  The new physics could be supersymmetry or something else, and whatever it is, we will be there to find out.”

With the collider back in action, the more than 1,700 U.S. scientists who work on LHC experiments are prepared to join thousands of their international colleagues to study the highest-energy particle collisions ever achieved in the laboratory.

These collisions – hundreds of millions of them every second – will lead scientists to new and unexplored realms of physics, and could yield extraordinary insights into the nature of the physical universe.

A highlight of the LHC’s first run, which began in 2009, was the discovery of the Higgs boson, the last in the suite of elementary particles that make up scientists’ best picture of the universe and how it works. The discovery of the Higgs was announced in July 2012 by two experimental collaborations, ATLAS and CMS. Continuing to measure the properties of the Higgs will be a major focus of LHC Run 2.

UC Riverside is a founding member of CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), a large particle-capturing detector, and is one of only five U.S. institutes to be a founding member.  UCR was a key contributor to the design, prototype testing, construction of the endcap muon chambers, one of the principal detector components used in the search for the Higgs boson.  Other central UCR contributions include participation in the design, construction, commissioning and operation of the silicon-based tracker, and the commissioning and operation of the hadron calorimeter, both of which are fundamental to most CMS physics studies – including the Higgs boson search.

Besides Hanson, the following UCR physicists are participating in CMS research: J. William Gary, Robert Clare, John Ellison, Owen Long and Stephen Wimpenny.  A number of postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduate students are also involved in the research.

During the LHC’s second run, particles will collide at a staggering 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV), which is 60 percent higher than any accelerator has achieved before. The LHC’s four major particle detectors – ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb – will collect and analyze data from these collisions, allowing them to probe new areas of research that were previously unattainable.

At 17 miles around, the Large Hadron Collider is one of the largest machines ever built. The United States played a vital role in the construction of the LHC and the huge and intricate detectors for its experiments. Seven U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories joined roughly 90 U.S. universities to build key components of the accelerator, detectors and computing infrastructure, with funding from the DOE Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

The U.S. contingent was part of an estimated 10,000 people from 113 different countries who helped to design, build, and upgrade the LHC accelerator and its four particle detectors.  U.S. institutions will continue to make important contributions to the LHC and its experiments, even beyond the second run, which is scheduled to continue through the middle of 2018.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-6050
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Additional Contacts

Gail Hanson
Tel: (951) 827-5638
E-mail: gail.hanson@ucr.edu

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