For the first time in 2012, scientists have turned on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. Two stable proton beams were collided at four different observation points in the LHC for the experiment, and the team at CERN cranked up the energy of each beam to 4 teraelectronvolts (TeV). The resultant collision set a new world record of 8 TeV of collision energy — levels which should help extend current research. As CERN's Steve Myers explains, scientists had felt safe to crank up the energy after "two good years of running at 3.5 TeV per beam gave us the confidence to increase the energy for this year without any significant risk to the machine."
Now that the LHC has been proven to work at the higher energy levels, much of the rest of the year will be dedicated to the search for the Higgs Boson, a glimpse of which may have been seen in December. Results won't come immediately, however, as the increased energy output also increases background noise, so CERN estimates that "the full year’s running will still be necessary to convert the tantalising hints seen in 2011 into a discovery, or to rule out the Standard Model Higgs particle altogether."
The LHC is expected to continue running through November of this year, when it will get another break of 20 months for upgrades that could increase total output to a whopping 14 TeV.