Atom smasher on verge of breakthrough

Thursday, September 23, 2010

LONDON - The $10 billion atom smasher underground on the Swiss-French border seems to have recreated a bit of the matter that existed in the initial moments of the universe and it might be on the threshold of its first big break, say scientists.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile looped tunnel which creates mini-Big Bangs by smashing together particles, is currently colliding particles at around half its maximum energy level — 7 million electron volts or 7 TeV.

It plans to increase this to 14 TeV from 2013, coming closer to the conditions in which the universe was created 13.7 billion years ago, reports the Daily Mail.

A paper published this week by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research describes how high-energy proton collisions produced unusual readings that could replicate the ‘hot dense matter’ existing microseconds after the Big Bang.

The Hadron Collider’s CMS detector is reported to have seen ‘new and interesting effects’ which show the paths that particles take after impact.

Raju Venugopalan, senior scientist at the Brookhaven National Lab in New York, said Wednesday that physicists ‘are very excited’ by the European lab’s results.

“In some sense, it’s like the particles talk to each other and they decide which way to go,” CMS Spokesperson Guido Tonelli told BBC.

“We claim that we have seen something unusual and we want the scientific community to criticise us, to understand if we did things correctly or if we did something wrong,” he said.

Filed under: Science and Technology

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