April 8, 2010

LHC Creates 10 Million Miniature Big Bangs

Scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) have created 10 million miniature Big Bangs in one week using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.

James Gilles told Robert Evans of the news agency that in the week following the LHC's first successful particle collisions at 7 terra electron volts (TeV), the device was "looking pretty good" and that CERN was "getting a mass of data for the analysts in laboratories all around the world to get their teeth into, even if it could take months or years for anything really new to emerge."

The LHC, which is located near Geneva, was now creating particle collisions twice as fast as a week ago, reaching levels of 100 collisions per second, en route to their ultimate goal of 300 per second.

According to Evans, CERN officials were eager to reach the 14 day mark, noting that the collider had to be shut down due to a cooling leak after 10 days in 2008.

CERN scientists are hoping that, by creating these small-scale simulated Big Bangs, they will be able to gain insight into the earliest days of the universe. One of their primary goals is to prove the existence of dark matter, dark energy, and the Higgs boson, also known as the "God Particle."

The LHC is scheduled to run through 2011 before taking a one-year hiatus and restarting in 2013.

Last month, CERN officials successfully set new beam energy records by first achieving levels of 3.5 TeV and then doubling that in late March. Following the LHC's shattering of the 7 TeV milestone, spokesperson Paola Catapano called it "physics in the making" and "the beginning of a new era."


Image Caption: A simulated event at the CMS particle detector of the LHC of the european particle physics institute, CERN. This simulation depicts the decay of a Higgs particle following a collision of two protons in the CMS experiment.


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