Mini Big Bang recreated
Scientists at the world's biggest atom smasher have recreated Big Bang conditions by switching the particles they use for collisions from protons to much heavier lead ions.
The Large Hadron Collider recorded its first lead ion collisions on Sunday and has since stabilised the twin beams sufficiently to start running physics experiments, said a spokeswoman for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.
The collisions produce an effect that is as close as researchers have ever come to observing the state of matter moments after the formation of the universe, which is believed to have begun with a colossal explosion known as the Big Bang.
05 November 2010
Scientists at the world's biggest atom smasher are stepping up their efforts to recreate the Big Bang that formed the universe, after breaking new ground ahead of schedule.
Sergio Bertolucci, the director for research and computing at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), says experiments are on track.
"The experiments are already providing an exciting glimpse of the new frontier," he said.
CERN says lead ions, which are heavier than the protons used for collision over the past seven months, will be accelerated in the machine for the first time, opening up an entirely new avenue of exploration.
They will probe matter "as it would have been in the first instants of the universe's existence"...
The 27-kilometre circular particle accelerator buried under the French-Swiss border has been recreating powerful but microscopic bursts of energy that mimic conditions close to the Big Bang.
CERN says it brought the record-breaking run of proton collisions in the giant $5.2 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to a successful conclusion on Thursday.
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