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10 September, 2008 - Published 13:39 GMT
World's biggest physics experiment gets underway
Scientists are celebrating the successful start up of the world's biggest physics experiment. A team at the European Centre for Nuclear Research near Geneva have managed to circulate a beam in the Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest atom smasher. Matt McGrath reports:
After a slow and tentative start, the scientists here at CERN have finally managed to circulate a beam of protons all the way round the 27 kilometre tunnel that houses the Large Hadron Collider. This beam is the size of a human hair and steering it around the circuit requires thousands of very powerful magnets, cooled to minus 271 degrees Celsius. Eventually this beam will circulate at almost the speed of light.
Soon, the team here will introduce a second beam travelling in the opposite direction. Within weeks, these beams will be forced to collide at several detection points around the tunnel. This will generate temperatures many times hotter than the sun, but focussed in a space millions of times smaller than a speck of dust.
The subsequent sub-atomic particles that will be generated will be analysed in great detail by researchers all over the world. They believe that in this data will be the evidence that will explain some of the mysteries of the universe, what everything is made of and how the cosmos is held together.
Matt McGrath, BBC News, Geneva
steering it around the circuit
focussed in a space
analysed in great detail
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