Physicists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) broke a record with their atom smasher Large Hadron Collider when they managed to collide protons at 3 times the energy previously achieved.
Earlier in the day, scientists stepped up efforts to detect the elusive ‘God Particle’ by triggering collision of two proton beams in the world’s largest atom smasher located on the Franco-Swiss border on the outskirts of Geneva.
The two proton beams, set in motion in opposite directions of two 27-km long pipes of the LHC in November last year, were previously moving at 3.5 trillion electron volts (TeV) with each beam of the protons going around the device 11,000 times every second.
Physicists achieved the feat while attempting to collide the two beams at 7 TeV, creating conditions similar at the time of the Big Bang — that is believed to have created the universe.
The success triggered rounds of applause and cheers from the scientists and journalists gathered in the circular control room, while allaying concerns that the experiment would create a black hole and destroy the universe.
The breakthrough heralds the beginning of a new era in efforts to try to understand profound scientific questions, including whether the sub-atomic particles – quarks – inside the protons and neutrons can be freed; and why these latter particles weigh some 100 times more than the quarks of which they are composed.
The protons in the LHC, which requires 100 megawatts of power to operate, collided at more than 7 tera – or trillion – electronvolts (TeV), a measure of energy given to an electron as it accelerates through a potential of one volt. This was more than triple the levels of previous experiments.
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