CERN researchers study mini-explosions

By Robert Evans

Geneva - Physicists at the CERN research centre said on Wednesday they had created 10 million mini-Big Bangs in the first week of mega-power operations of their marathon probe into the secrets of the cosmos.

Spokesperson James Gillies said the subterranean Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in which tiny particles of matter are smashed together at a fraction of a second under the speed of light, was functioning extremely well.

"It's all looking pretty good. We are getting a mass of data for the analysts in laboratories all round the world to get their teeth into, even if it could take months or years for anything really new to emerge," said Gillies.

Officials at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, are keen to get through the first two weeks at high power, recalling that in 2008, an earlier launch of the LHC at a lesser power was halted by a major coolant leak after 10 days.

Scientists keeping watch over the LHC's 27km oval-shaped ring under the Swiss-French border near Geneva said collisions were now being recorded at 100 per second, twice as many as on the first mega-power day last week.

Particle beams were first injected into the LHC and then collided at a previously unattained total energy of 7 tera - or 7 million million - electron volts (TeV) on March 30 in what scientists said was a huge step forward in cosmic research. - Reuters


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