Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Large Hadron Collider

The new Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile loop underneath the Swiss-French border, accelerated protons to energies of 1.2 trillion electron volts apiece and then crashed them together, eclipsing a record for collisions held by an American machine, the Tevatron, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

Officials at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, which built the collider, said that the collisions lasted just a few minutes as a byproduct of testing. In conjunction with other recent successes, CERN displaced America as the leader in the art of banging subatomic particles together to uncover Nature's secrets.

The Large Hadron Collider is located 300 feet below the French-Swiss border outside Geneva. It is the world's biggest and most expensive particle accelerator, and is designed to accelerate the subatomic particles known as protons to energies of 7 trillion electron volts apiece and then smash them together to create tiny fireballs, recreating conditions that last prevailed when the universe was less than a trillionth of a second old.

Until the Large Hadron Collider is fully operational, Fermilab’s Tevatron is still in the lead in the hunt for one of the collider’s main quarries, the Higgs boson, a particle that is thought to imbue other particles with mass.

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