World's top atom-smasher ready to rumble

27th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, April 26, 2007 (AFP) - The final piece in the world's greatest particle accelerator in a 27-kilometre (43-foot) circular tunnel 100 metres under the French-Swiss border was put into place on Thursday, organisers said.

GENEVA, April 26, 2007 (AFP) - The final piece in the world's greatest particle accelerator in a 27-kilometre (43-foot) circular tunnel 100 metres under the French-Swiss border was put into place on Thursday, organisers said.

Scientists installed the final magnet in the so-called Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a project organised by the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN where subatomic particles will collide at close to the speed of light.

The LHC, assembled over 15 years and involving more than 10,000 physicists and 500 research bodies and firms around the world, will be operational from November and may help unlock the final secrets on sub-atomic particles.

The project "could be the most ambitious scientific undertaking ever," and its results "will probably change our fundamental knowledge of the universe," its organisers say.

Scientists plan to smash together high-energy protons in two counter-rotating beams in the tunnel, just outside Geneva, to look for signatures of supersymmetry, dark matter and the origins of mass.

The beams are made up of bunches containing billions of protons which will be injected, accelerated, and kept circulating for hours, guided by thousands of powerful superconducting magnets.

Each proton goes around the 27 kilometre ring over 11,000 times a second.

The detectors will be able to see up to 600 million collision events per second, with scientists scouring the debris for signs of extremely rare events such as the creation of the Higgs boson, a suspected particle whose existence would explain mass.

"It will be like smashing two Swiss watches with complex workings against each other: afterwards we will look at the wreckage from the watches and try to understand how they were made," CERN project director Philippe Bloch said.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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