Collider gets results

2009-12-10 11:45

Geneva - The world's largest atom smasher has recorded its first high-energy collisions of protons, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Physicists hope those collisions will help them understand suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago, which many theorise occurred as a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.

The collisions occurred on Tuesday evening as the Large Hadron Collider underwent test runs in preparation for operations in 2010, said Christine Sutton of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, or Cern.

Two beams of circulating particles travelling in opposite directions at 1.18 trillion electron volts produced the collisions, she said. The Atlas "experiment", one of four major detectors in cathedral-sized rooms in the collider's underground tunnel at Geneva, had part of its equipment turned on and could register collisions.

"They recorded a handful of collisions, and one of them looks quite nice, so it's on their website," she said.

World record

Sutton said the collisions occurred when the machine was ramped up briefly to 1.18 TeV. That same level set a world record for proton acceleration in November, when Geneva's particle beams travelled with 20% more power than Fermilab near Chicago, which previously held the record.

The operators plan many more collisions at lower energies so the experiments can calibrate their equipment and prepare for more advances ahead.

Cern then plans more collisions at 1.18 TeV to give all experiments the opportunity to record data at that level, but new scientific discoveries are not expected before next year when the beams are ramped up still higher, to 3.5 TeV.

That will be 3.5 times more energy that has been reached at Fermilab, previously the most powerful collider.

  • End - 2009-12-10 12:04

    The END.

  • RAKKA - 2009-12-10 12:10

    Be careful of the mini black holes. They'll gobble up your neck of the woods and then maybe us!

  • Jaco - 2009-12-10 12:23

    So what. What's this all about? Sounds like just another nice-to-have for one of the rich countries. Just another toy for the scientists, spending lots of money and producing nothing usefull.

  • Jason - 2009-12-10 15:14

    Jaco actually this is a massive collaboration between a number of countries involving thousands of scientists across the globe. The results of which will almost certainly shed further light on the building blocks of matter and give us a clearer understanding of the universe and its beginnings. Gee that seems useful 2 me! Your comment can only be equated 2 those who scoffed at those who dared to sail the unknown world or fly 2 the moon!

  • uwe - 2009-12-10 15:16

    1.18 trillion electron volts ... WOW...just amazing isnt it ? please note that that about the equivalent of the energy generated by a mosquito in flight... any "mini black holes" that may occur will pop into non existance almost instantly witha short burst of gamma radiation... but the gamma rays will by so weak considering that the original energy used to create them was almost insignificant to start with. this is universe and cosmic events on a nano (very very very very very small scale)...its like analyzing nuclear bomb explosions with small tom thumb crackers...

  • Nostradamus - 2009-12-15 12:23

    Maybe that will happen in Desember 2012, who knows. The words "chain reaction" comes to mind. Somehow, I don't think the scientists on site will be available for comment once this collision happened.

  • The Easter Bunny - 2009-12-15 15:10

    hopefully, this will be the start of the death of religion

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