March 30, 2010
Collider Achieves Record In Hunt For God Particle
Officials at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have successfully achieved a collision at 7 trillion electron volts (TeV), the latest milestone in their search for Higgs boson -- also known as the "God Particle" -- as they attempt to reach levels in their Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
CERN spokeswoman Paola Catapano called it "physics in the making" and "the beginning of a new era," and according to the AFP, "Cheers erupted in separate control rooms around the 27-kilometre (16.8-mile) long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as the detectors recorded the collisions of beams of sub-atomic particles at close to the speed of light."
Early Tuesday morning, CERN researchers at their Geneva-based facility fired up the LHC as they began their successful attempt to cause particle collisions to occur at a level close to the speed of light. Their ultimate mission is to generate a small-scale, artificial "Big Bang" that will provide insight as to how the universe was formed.
Previously, they had established the beam record at 3.5 TeV.
"We are opening the door to New Physics, to a new period of discovery in the history of humankind," CERN director-general told Robert Evens of Reuters on Monday. At that time, Evans notes that it might be "hours or even days before the first collisions happen."
Scientists in the LHC facility, as well as those watching the proceeding from afar, did not have to wait as long as some had anticipated, however. Following a short delay due to power supply and magnet safety system glitches, the high powered collisions were being reported shortly after 7am Central time.
The next steps involve trying to prove the existence of the Higgs boson, as well as find evidence and discern the properties of dark matter and dark energy -- discoveries which could have a profound effect on modern-day theoretical physics.
"I can't think of anything more important for us theorists right now," University of Manchester physicist Jeff Forshaw told The Guardian on Monday. "It's easy to dream up theories, but it's very, very difficult to dream up theories that are right. The LHC will help us weed out the ones that are wrong."
"There is a whole (program) of research that builds up to something like the discovery of the Higgs particle and that (program) starts now," he added. "It has got to work, and I would bet an enormous amount of money that it will find something new."
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