New accelerator to research Big Bang

6th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 November 2007, Darmstadt, Germany (dpa) - Envoys from Italy, India and 13 other nations are set to sign a communiqué Wednesday confirming the go-ahead for a giant particle accelerator that will yield scientists new data about the Big Bang. Code-named FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research), the device will be built at Darmstadt, south of the city of Frankfurt, and will be one of the biggest new science projects in Germany of the coming decade. GSI, the German Society for Heavy Ion Research,

6 November 2007

Darmstadt, Germany (dpa) - Envoys from Italy, India and 13 other nations are set to sign a communiqué Wednesday confirming the go-ahead for a giant particle accelerator that will yield scientists new data about the Big Bang.

Code-named FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research), the device will be built at Darmstadt, south of the city of Frankfurt, and will be one of the biggest new science projects in Germany of the coming decade.

GSI, the German Society for Heavy Ion Research, is to oversee the 1.2-billion-euro (1.7-billion-dollar) device, which will begin in 2013 to use beams of ions and anti-protons to help physicists discover how matter came into being.

"This laboratory will be recreating a mini-version of the Big Bang," said Horst Stoecker, the GSI scientific director, referring to the primal explosion 14 billion years ago with which the existence of the universe began.

"The substance we'll be making resembles that in the first microseconds of the Big Bang, when it was a million times hotter than at the centre of the Sun. We're talking a million times 10 million degrees Celsius."

The 3,000 scientists to work at FAIR will find out how the different chemical elements developed.

Stoecker says he cannot guess what the answers will be, but FAIR will be Darmstadt's key laboratory for the next 25 years. A "kick- off" symposium this week will accompany the signing ceremony.

GSI is a premier nuclear physics lab concentrating on heavy ions. An ion is an electrically charged atom, and GSI defines a heavy one as anything heavier that helium.

Past GSI achievements include discovering short-lived, new heavy elements such as element 108, hassium, and element 110, darmstadtium, which is named after the city of Darmstadt.

Scientists believe that all the elements heavier than iron arose from supernovae, or explosions of stars, and will also reconstruct these events in FAIR, which is a double ring with a circumference of 1,100 metres.

An existing particle accelerator at GSI will be re-used as a kind of first stage in the new facility, which will accelerate particles to 99 per cent of the speed of light, then crash them into atomic nuclei.

Unlike another famous accelerator, at CERN near Geneva in Switzerland, FAIR's specialty will not be the speed of the particles, but rather the intensity of the beam.

"With CERN, it's like getting a look at a new country at high speed from the highway. With FAIR, it will be like 1,000 four-wheel- drives swarming over it off-road," explained a spokesman, Ingo Peter.

"We have different scientific purposes. CERN scientists can tell you how the far side looks. We'll be able to tell you about the fine detail of this new country - matter."

Germany is to pay 75 per cent of the costs of FAIR, with the other 14 nations, also including Spain, Britain, Poland, China and Russia, contributing the rest.

Internet: www.gsi.de/fair

DPA

Subject: German news

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