GENEVA, March 30 – Scientists of the European nuclear research center (CERN) hope that on Tuesday they will succeed in effecting collisions of proton beams circulating along the 27-kilometer tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — the world's largest accelerator of charged particles.
This became possible after the energy of protons streaking along the LHC ring was increased up to a record-high power of seven teraelectronvolts (TeV).
The LHC operates outside Geneva at a depth of 100 metres at the border between Switzerland and France. The atom smasher holds the promise of revealing details about theoretical particles and microforces, scientists say.
Steve Myers, CERN's director for accelerators and technology, describes the challenge of lining up the beams as being akin to "firing needles across the Atlantic and getting them to collide half way."
Physicists hope that by means of an analysis of the results of "collisions" of particles to delve deeper into the matter mystery and achieve the highest energies ever studied.
With most optimistic outcome of the experiment, researchers will be able to recreate conditions that existed 13,000 million years ago fraction of a second after the Big Bang which led, according to some estimates, to the emergence of the universe around us.
In 2011, the LHC which is the largest instrument for research into the microworld will be shut down or a one-year preventive maintenance. Over the period, scientists intend to make further improvements that will enable them to restart it in 2013 at a maximum energy of 14 TeV.
Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director-general of CERN, has said it is likely to take months before any scientific discoveries are made, partly because computers will have to sort through massive amounts of data produced by the collisions.
Heuer said the LHC is not an installation that can be just switched on and it will immediately be ready for operation. It may take hours or even days to set particles at collision courses, he pointed out. (PNA/Itar-Tass)