Saturday, September 13, 2008

Large Hadron Collider

Physicists start experiment to recreate Cosmic phenomenon in hope of finding How Universe began...

After 14 years and $8 billion, scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research [CERN], outside Genava, succeeded in turning on the most powerful microscope ever built for investigating the elemental particles and forces of nature. Early on Wednesday (09102008) morning, the protons made their first circuit around a 17 mile long long racetrack known as the Large Hadron Collider, 300 feet underneath the Swiss French border, and then made a return journey.

Lyn Evans is the Project Director, an ocean and half a continent away from Geneva, several dozen physicists, journalists, students and just plain citizens gathered here at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago, to watch the dawn of a new generation in high energy physics, applauding each milestone of the night as the scientists at CERN slowly wrestled the beam into shape.

The collider is designed to accelerate protons to energies of 7 trillion electron volts and then smash them together, recreating conditions in the primordial fireball only a trillionth of a second after the big bang. The only thing physicists agree on is that they don't know what will happen - what laws prevail - under those conditions.

Many physicists hope to materialize a hypothetical particle called the Higgs boson, which according to theory endows other particles with mass, or identify the nature of the mysterious invisible dark matter that makes up 25 percent of the universe and provides the scaffolding for galaxies. Some dream of revealing new dimensions of space-time.

But those discoveries are in the future. If the new collider is a car, then what physicists did on Wednesday was turn on engine, that will now sit and warm up for a couple of months before anybody drives it anywhere. The first meaningful collisions, at an energy of 5 trillion electron volts, will not happen until late fall.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of Stephen Hawking's great achievements, together with mathematician Roger Penrose, has been to prove that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity means space and time has a beginning in the "Big Bang" and ends in black holes.