* Large Hadron Collider restarts after technical break
* Highest-speed beam collisions seen in two to four weeks
GENEVA, March 1 (Reuters) - Particle beams are recirculating in the “Big Bang” collider at the Swiss-French border following a short break and are expected to reach maximum velocity in two to four weeks, a CERN spokeswoman said on Monday.
“We had a technical stop over Christmas and that has finished. The beams are circulating again,” Barbara Warmbein, press officer at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), told Reuters.
Collisions at the highest possible energy level, emulating conditions in the moments after the creation of the universe 13.7 billion years ago, should occur within two to four weeks, the spokeswoman said.
Scientists around the world will scour the resulting data to search for the elusive Higgs Boson particle, which Scots scientist Peter Higgs said three decades ago would explain how matter came together and created the universe. [ID:nLDE61226V]
“The plan is to run at those energies for 18 to 24 months to give the experimenters the data that they need to work,” Warmbein said.
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is the largest machine ever built and doomsday theorists have worried its experiments would create black holes that would destroy humanity. The accelerator has also featured in Dan Brown’s bestselling thriller “Angels & Demons”. It was first started up in September 2008 but then shut down 10 days later after over-heating in its 27-kilometre (17-mile) circular underground tunnel which required lengthy and expensive delays. The project has drawn together thousands of physicists worldwide and cost some $10 billion. (Reporting by Laura MacInnis; Editing by Robert Evans)