'Big Bang' machine begins operation

PA
Wednesday, Sept 10, 2008

Scientists began the world's largest science experiment hoping to unlock some of the secrets of the universe.

The £5 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will smash protons - one of the building blocks of matter - into each other at velocities only a fraction less than the speed of light.

In the flashes from the collisions, scientists expect to reproduce conditions that existed during the first billionth of a second after the Big Bang at the birth of the universe. No one knows precisely what will come tumbling out of the primordial soup of disintegrating protons. But the scientists have dismissed suggestions that the experiment could somehow cause the end of the world.

The LHC could help scientists explain mass, gravity, mysterious "dark matter" and why the universe looks the way it does. It could also produce the first evidence of extra spatial dimensions and even create mini-black holes that blink in and out of existence in a fraction of a second.

The eyes of the world were on LHC project leader Dr Lyndon Evans, from Aberdare in south Wales, in the tense minutes before the machine was "switched on".

Looking relaxed in a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, Dr Evans counted down the last few seconds before the first beam of protons was put into the LHC.

Full article here

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