The Large Hadron Collider saw its first stable-beam 3.5 TeV collisions of 2011 today after 6 p.m. Central European Time (1 p.m. EST).
This marks the beginning of a year of unprecedented data-collection for experiments at the LHC. In 2011, scientists plan to significantly increase their stockpile of data, which will give them access to previously unexplored areas of physics.
In 2010, detectors at the LHC recorded data about a selection of about 3000 billion proton-proton collisions. Using last year’s data, scientists confirmed previous discoveries from the Standard Model of physics and improved previous measurements, set new limits on the Higgs boson and supersymmetry, and conducted preliminary studies of the quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter scientists theorize existed in the early universe.
The LHC will run until the end of 2012 with a short technical stop at the end of 2011. After 2012, the machine will go into a long shutdown to prepare for higher energy running starting 2014.