In this month’s Scientific American cover story, “Supersymmetry and the Crisis in Physics,” authors Joseph Lykken of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Maria Spiropulu of the California Institute of Technology discuss the long, as-yet fruitless quest to discover supersymmetry, a theory of matter that would help solve a number of outstanding problems in physics.
The best hope for discovering evidence of supersymmetry will come from the Large Hadron Collider, which is currently shut down so that it can be upgraded. The first run of the LHC, which ended in early 2013, produced enough data to allow researchers to identify the long-sought Higgs boson. During the shutdown, scientists and engineers will make improvements to the machine, which will let it reach the highest energies that it was designed for. This video from CERN, home of the LHC, explains how:
Scientists in the video obliquely mention the “incident” of 2008—a catastrophic short circuit between adjacent electromagnets in the LHC that triggered a series of unfortunate events, among them a massive leak of liquid helium, which ripped multiton electromagnets from where they were bolted to the concrete floor. Engineers are going to strengthen the connections between superconducting lines to prevent such an event from happening again.