Picture: Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse
There has been a huge level of interest in the Large Hadron Collider and rightly so, it has taken 15 years and a staggering $9 billion to create.
Today we have heard from reports that it has produced its first collisions which means finally there is some good news for what was turning into a rather expensive ‘experiment’. These collisions came only three days after engineers had begun firing the subatomic particles (protons) around the 17 mile underground system. The physicists have announced that they have successfully made the beams collide with the end result being “candidate collision events” in the massive particle detectors.
The collider accelerates protons to energy levels of 7 trillion electron volts each and then slams them together in the attempt to recreate forces that were apparent in the first moments of the Big Bang.
“It’s a great achievement to have come this far in so short a time,” CERN’s director general, Rolf Heuer, said. “But we need to keep a sense of perspective — there’s still much to do before we can start the LHC physics program.”
While this is exciting news, the experts have said that the most important results are still far in the future and todays collisions, while significant, were just a test of the collider systems ability to synchronise the beams and make them collide at the right points – not so easy when the protons are travelling at almost the speed of light.
CERN hope to increase the proton energies to 1.2 trillion volts each which would make the Hadron Collider the most powerful in the world, even surpassing the Tevatron in Illinois which is capable of dishing out 900 billion electron volts.