LHC to unlock universe secrets

2010-11-05 08:30

Geneva - Scientists at the world's biggest atom smasher said on Thursday they were stepping up their efforts to recreate the Big Bang that formed the universe, after breaking new ground ahead of schedule.

"The experiments are already providing an exciting glimpse of the new frontier," said Sergio Bertolucci, director for research and computing at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern).

Lead ions, which are heavier than the protons used for collision over the past seven months, will be accelerated in the machine for the first time, opening up an entirely new avenue of exploration, according to Cern.

They will probe matter "as it would have been in the first instants of the Universe's existence," it added.

The 27km circular particle accelerator buried under the French-Swiss border has been recreating powerful but microscopic bursts of energy that mimic conditions close to the Big Bang.


Cern said it brought the record-breaking run of proton collisions in the giant €3.9bn ($5.2bn) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to a successful conclusion on Thursday.

"For the rest of the year the LHC is moving to a different phase of operation," with the lead ion collisions, before a technical shut down for servicing on December 6.

The collider set record energy levels by smashing protons fired in beams approaching the speed of light in March. On October 13, it reached a target collision rate two weeks ahead of schedule, and has since doubled that.

"This shows that the objective we set ourselves for this year was realistic, but tough, and it’s very gratifying to see it achieved in such fine style," said Cern Director General Rolf Heuer.

In late September, physicists at Cern said they appeared to have discovered a previously unobserved phenomenon in their quest to unravel the deepest secrets of the universe.

Their observations of particles that were "intimately linked in a way not seen before in proton collisions", were submitted for scientific peer review.

The new phase will also bring another challenge by generating even greater amounts of data for the worldwide computing grid that backs up the experiment.

It combines the computing power of more than 140 independent computer centres in 34 countries, with data transferred at peaks of 10 gigabytes per second, the equivalent of two DVDs a second.

  • JoJo - 2010-11-05 08:57

    The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe. Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC. There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.

  • Fredster - 2010-11-05 09:15

    What a waste...

  • styx - 2010-11-05 09:25

    So they are going to make another universe??

  • J ON - 2010-11-05 09:56

    Good stuff boys, sounds more like playground fun than scientific experiments, but This will undoubtacly go a very small way into a better understaning the universe, but it will not answer all the questions and I doubt if now prove how the big bang happened from nothing. but Miracles do happen. In a short while they will call on the "God Gene" that has been recently hypothesised and look for more evidence that this is infact the catelyst that caused the big bang. Now I want to hear from the Easter Bunny and Buckwheat and all their connections on how this actually happens. What, you dont know? how very odd.

  • Fruity - 2010-11-05 10:35

    Yes in theory if they smash the correct combination of particles together they create an alternative universe that we will be able to access and the bonus is that while they try to achieve this they get to witness pretty explosions

  • Corry - 2010-11-05 10:35

    @ JoJo, great (p)article, hehehe
    @J ON, it's the god gene but rather the god particle. It's also called the Higgs boson.
    The god gene is a theory that humans have a gene that predisposes us to seeking the presence of a higher power. Hopefully with time evolution will invalidate this gene and humans can once and for all realise we are but a mere moment of insignificance in the universe and we can thus live our lives without religious dogma.

  • Cathy - 2010-11-05 11:15

    @Fredster "What a waste" ?? Care to elaborate?

  • J ON - 2010-11-05 11:25

    So currently its just Pure speculation as to what actually happened. All this to try and disprove that a "Creator" exists and that we are all just some form of purely randomly evolved super species that all evolved from a single microorganism. Science shows that the more we learn, the more we realize we are way too advanced just to be a planet that formed by some random occurance, and the more we realize that there was indeed some Catalyst that put everything in motion. I like to call that catalyst GOD(and herein lies the problem with ever1's predetermined idea of what GOD is). But whatever blows your hair back.

  • Thabiso - 2010-11-05 12:08

    Our current technology is based on things discovered in the past, ever since all this scientist are doing is making Billion Pounds experiments to certify their curiosity about questions they have about things, untill this guys come out with something to show on their experiments they are just waisting money, I know some of thier experiments will benifit our daily live but in most cases I feel most of thier experiments are done just to certisfy thier curiosity, which is why most of the time when ever they report their experiments they never have anything show for it, they will always say things like were are learning new things about such, but never show or prove anything. If they have been colliding particles all these time, whats the end result of this collusions, what particles form after this collusions, if non, then what comes out of the collusion, I feel as if they even themselve don't know whats going on during or after this collusions. Next time they go to the media to justify thier expencive experiment they must come out with something concrede to say, than just telling us they have conducted so many collusion and they are going to conduct more.

  • Michael @ Cathy - 2010-11-05 12:11

    Cathy, let me elaborate on the short-sighted Fred's behalf... "What a waste to spend so much money on experiments that have no direct benefit to humankind, PEOPLE ARE STARVING." People like Fred are rarely able to see past their own nose, and are so narrow-minded they could look through a keyhole with both eyes. You have to look to the future Fred! We need to gain a better understanding of the universe in order to progress technologically. Maybe that deosn't seem important to you, but ask yourself, "Why are people starving?", because there's too many of them. All this falls into sci-fi at the moment, but scientists hope to get a better understanding of the force of gravity, and who knows we could learn to manipulate it in the future, that would be a huge breakthrough in transportation, space travel (which we might need sooner than later if we keep destroying and overpopulating the planet) Like I said, it's not about concrete gains right now, it's research to improve humanity's lot in the future. People will always starve, because they procreate too much, knowledge of the universe, and greater understanding of the mechanisms that drive and change the universe are the most valuable thing I can imagine.

  • @ J ON - 2010-11-05 12:44

    The LHC is not at all intended to prove the absence of a creator. It is intended to delve deeper into the mysteries of particle physics and discover some of the physics that goes into the makeup of the universe. If evidence leads to the conclusion there is no creator, so be it, but that is not why it was developed. The LHC has come up with more concrete evidence for it's true purpose than has ever, in the entire history of humanity, been produced to prove the existence of God.

  • Leroy - 2010-11-05 16:23

    anyways the universe is huge...bigger than what you thinking! Its no surprise that life occurred on this perfect planet with all its perfect conditions! If you think we a super species then you got a shock of your life coming! Mankind will be doing well if we still here in the next 100 000 years! We kick one brick out of this wall and we will be the first to fall....

  • J ON @ @ J ON - 2010-11-05 16:47

    I Agree with you that it will help to further our miniscule understanding of the universe and what's what, but lets not beat around the "What if bush". Currently It will never be able to prove the big bang theory. I will bet you as much as you like. There are just too many variables, some known and most unknown, missing from the experiment. And getting back to my proof of "life/God" . Is the world not enough proof? and the aged old Q: Where did the "matter" come from in order to create the illusive Big Bang if "Nothing" put it there? According to the First law of thermodynamics you cant create or destroy energy so that means it was always there.Much like GOD. because if noone created it we (as enery constituents) would not exist, yet here we are. I'm all for experiments and increasing knowledge but All I'm saying is that it is not going to change the fact that something(call it what you will) put everything in motion.

  • George - 2010-11-05 20:28

    You people can do and test what ever you want . GOD created everything and man . One day every body will answer for their actions and what was done. Please read the 10 comaandments in the bible.

  • Jon - 2010-11-05 23:20

    What is up with the short sightedness, yes there are people starving, so what, people will always be starving, get used to it, it will never go away, the more you give to starving people the more people will starve, simple as that. If you want to channel your money into helping the poor then be so kind, the experiments done in the LHC will go a long way to benefiting ALL humankind, not just this short sighted lame plight of helping the poor.

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