GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- European particle physicists say the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland will be run at higher energies in 2012 than in previous years
The higher energy 4 Tev level, 0.5 higher than levels used in 2010 and 2011, will allow the LHC to deliver the maximum possible amount of data this year before it goes into a long shutdown to prepare for even higher-energy running, a release from CERN headquarters in Geneva said Tuesday.
"When we started operating the LHC for physics in 2010, we chose the lowest safe beam energy consistent with the physics we wanted to do," Steve Myers, CERN's director for accelerators and technology, said.
"Two good years of operational experience with beam and many additional measurements made during 2011 give us the confidence to safely move up a notch, and thereby extend the physics reach of the experiments before we go into the LHC's first long shutdown."
In the last two years, the LHC has concentrated on narrowing the search for the Higgs boson, considered the foundation particle of particle physics.
However, to confirm its discovery or to rule out the Standard Model Higgs particle altogether will require one more year's worth of data, researchers said.
"By the time the LHC goes into its first long stop at the end of this year, we will either know that a Higgs particle exists or have ruled out the existence of a Standard Model Higgs," CERN's research director, Sergio Bertolucci, said.
"Either would be a major advance in our exploration of nature, bringing us closer to understanding how the fundamental particles acquire their mass, and marking the beginning of a new chapter in particle physics."