Beam Me Up: Big Bang Protons Away

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Beam Me Up: Big Bang Protons Away
The first beam of protons has successfully completed its maiden journey through the 17-mile tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Scientists in Geneva have begun the world’s most expensive experiment – one which could finally solve the mysteries of the Big Bang.
It is with two beams of protons – which are one of the building blocks of atoms – that scientists hope to capture an image of the conditions that existed a billionth of a second after the start of the universe.It has been called the largest science experiment since Apollo sent its astronauts to the Moon, and the mood at the Cern Research Centre was something akin to Mission Control.
Scientists young and old were gathered around clusters of computer terminals in front of large screens nervously contemplating the culmination of a decade of preparation.
The flashing of two white dots on a computer screen indicated that the protons had reached the final point of the world’s largest particle accelerator.
Nothing at the centre has been left to chance. Not least the level of secrecy seemingly necessary in the world of particle physics.
We are sending one beam of particles one way, then another the other way,” one of the enthusiastic scientists told Sky News.
“But we can’t tell you which direction we’re sending the beam first – that’s a secret.”
What is less of a secret is the much-hyped danger that the particle accelerator might create many black holes which would eventually tear the Earth apart.
The scientists involved in the experiment do not believe this will happen – and those in the Atlas control room certainly did not look as if they were preparing for the end of the world.
There is no talk of black holes or impending doom – which are regarded as the closest thing to an impossibility as it is possible for scientists to predict.
Instead, they are hoping to unlock the secrets of the universe.
For those unable to fathom the enormity of recreating the Big Bang, the practical uses for techniques developed here are impressive in themselves.
Pet scanners, radiotherapy machines, even the World Wide Web have been developed thanks to Cern techniques and similar technological advances can be predicted as a result of these experiments.
At a cost of £4.4bn and running up an annual electricity bill of £15m, the big money is on the big question: can this machine help explain the origins of the universe?

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