Retooled atom smasher relaunches next year at higher energy level to aid research, discovery

The world's largest atom smasher is gearing up for its second three-year run after 16 months of maintenance and upgrades.

The world's top particle physics lab known as CERN says the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider is in a cool-down phase and is on track to resume early next year at double the energy level it used to have.

During its first run, the European Organization for Nuclear Research's particle accelerator on the Swiss-French border near Geneva was used to discover a long-theorized subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson, without which particles wouldn't hold together — and there would be no matter.

CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said in a statement Monday the collider is "effectively a new machine, poised to set us on the path to new discoveries."