Scientists have opened what promises to be a new window on the
universe, and on the matter and energy it contains, with Tuesday's
record-breaking particle collisions at the European Organization for
Nuclear Research in Geneva.
7:06 a.m. EDT, detectors at the lab's Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
recorded the accelerator's first proton-on-proton collisions at energy
levels roughly 3.5 times higher than those in previous experiments.
marks the beginning of what researchers expect to be a historic 18- to
24-month science run. After that, scientists will attempt to drive the
accelerator closer to its full design energy of 14 trillion electron
volts. That energy level corresponds to energies present when the
universe was only one ten-billionth of a second old.
Hopes are high that the new proton-smashing tool can lead to breakthroughs in scientists' understanding of basic physics.
last revolution in physics happened about 100 years ago, at the end of
the 19th century," explains Jurgen Schukraft, a physicist and spokesman
for an experiment dubbed ALICE, one of four major experiments along the
underground accelerator's 27-kilometer (17-mile) circumference.
had a standard model of how the world worked, "but there was some data
that did not fit," he says. The outcome of attempts to resolve the
problems: general relativity and quantum mechanics, two pillars of