Scientists start up giant particle-smashing machine
Geneva, September 10, 2008
Scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) started up a huge particle-smashing machine on Wednesday, aiming to re-enact the conditions of the 'Big Bang' that created the universe.
Experiments in the Large Hadron Collider, a 10 billion Swiss franc ($9 billion) accelerator built underneath the Swiss-French border, could unlock the remaining secrets of particle physics and answer questions about the universe and its origins.
'There are two emotions, the pleasure of completing a great task and the hope of great discoveries ahead of us,' said CERN Director General Robert Aymar.
The giant accelerator's first task is to send a particle beam in one direction around its 27-km (17-mile) circumference, and then one in the other direction to test if the path is clear.
In the coming weeks beams will be sent in both directions simultaneously to create high-speed collisions.
Scientists around the world are eagerly anticipating data on those minuscule crashes. One possibility is that they will cause the creation of matter -- proving correct the theory that there exists a 'Higgs Boson' that gives matter its mass.
Doomsday writers have also fanned fears that the experiment could create anti-matter, or black holes, spurring unprecedented public interest in particle physics ahead of the machine's start-up. CERN has insisted that such concerns are unfounded and that the Large Hadron Collider is safe.-Reuters