May 6, 2010

Collider On Track With Big Bang Research

CERN Scientists said on Wednesday that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is on track to make new and exciting discoveries about the origins of the universe.

Reporting on the progress of the Big Bang project two months into the initial high-power phase of the experiment, scientists at the CERN research center said the multi-billion dollar machine was quickly proving its ability to expand the boundaries of physics.

Oliver Buchmueller, director of one of the 6 detectors monitoring collisions in the underground tunnel of the collider, told Reuters, "We now can envisage turning up exotica like large extra dimensions, string balls and heavy slow-charged particles."

In a meeting at CERN on the Swiss-French border near Geneva, Buchmueller said that such discoveries would compliment parallel efforts to find the Higgs boson particle, thought to explain the existence of mass in the universe, and also find evidence of super-symmetrical particles, which could give clues about the existence of dark matter.

CERN's director of accelerators and technology, Steve Myers, told Reuters that the LHC had been working fine with no errors since the particle collisions at a combined force of 7 tera -- 7 million million -- electron volts began on March 30.

Myers cautioned that the machine has to be under constant supervision, to make sure it's safe. "The last thing we want is another shutdown," he said referring to a coolant leak that caused an abrupt shutdown in September 2008 while the LHC ran at a lower power level.

The CERN collisions -- nearly 200 million since March 30 -- are reacting on a very minute scale of what occurred within nanoseconds of the Big Bang over 13 billion years ago that created all things.

Six detectors around the LHC record how the particles behave after being smashed together. The data is transmitted to CERN laboratories and other research centers around the world for analysis.

The machine has, so far, identified many elements included in the Standard Model that physicists created during the 20th century for how they theorized the cosmos should and does work, said Andrei Golutvin, a scientist at CERN.

It is a miracle, said Golutvin, that the LHC is "detecting the particles we expected from the Standard Model so early in this experiment. It shows just how well the LHC is functioning."
The planets, stars and galaxies that they observe make up only 4 percent of the Universe. What remains unseen is a mixture of dark matter (26%) and dark energy (70%). The LHC experiments have valuable potential to discover new particles that could explain what dark matter is.

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