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Large Hadron Collider restart on track

GENEVA (AFP): Scientists are restarting the world's most powerful atom-smasher over coming days, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said Sunday, as they prepare a new campaign to explore the secrets of the universe.

The 3.9 billion euro (USD 5.6 billion) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was shut down in December to ready it for collisions at unfathomed energy levels. It was run for a few weeks after being successfully revived from a 14 month breakdown.

The particle collider -- inside a 27-kilometre (16.8-mile) tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva -- is aimed at understanding the origins of the universe by recreating the conditions that followed the Big Bang.

"We should be getting beams back in the LHC between Monday and Wednesday, with the first high energy collisions - so the real start of the research programme - coming two to four weeks later," CERN spokesman James Gillies told AFP.

"This is as scheduled when we switched off in December."

In the weeks before the technical shutdown, the collider achieved over a million particle collisions and accelerated proton beams to energy levels never reached before, according to CERN.

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