Large Hadron Collider, the $10 billion particle accelerator is the biggest, most expensive science machine on earth, designed to explore mysteries ranging from dark matter and missing antimatter to the existence of extra, unseen dimensions in space.
The Large Hadron Collider passed its first test Wednesday and scientists reported that the powerful tool was nearly ready to reveal how the tiniest particles were first created after the “big bang” – the widespread theory of the massive explosion that formed the stars, the planets and everything in the Universe.
The beams will gradually be filled with more protons and fired at nearly the speed of light in opposite directions around the tunnel, making 11,000 circuits a second. They will travel down the middle of two tubes about the width of fire hoses, speeding through a vacuum that is colder than outer space. At four points in the tunnel, the scientist will use giant magnets to cross the beams and cause protons to collide.
The collider’s two huge digital cameras weighing thousands of tons are capable of taking millions of snapshots a second.
Many scientists have been waiting for 20 years to use the LHC, which provides much greater power than earlier colliders. However, its start did not go without controversy. There have been many objections coming from those who feared the collision of protons could eventually endanger the Earth by creating micro black holes with gravity so strong they can suck in planets and other stars.
No such problem occurred Wednesday, although the accelerator is still probably a year away from full power.