New super collider has huge WOW factor - and a 'Big Bang'
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This gee-whiz news sounds like science fiction, but is science reality. Last week in Geneva, Switzerland, international researchers started up the world's biggest, costliest machine - the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a sophisticated device that sends sub-atomic particles too small to see zipping around a 17-mile underground loop at nearly the speed of light.
The goal is to smash the components of atoms - called protons - together in attempts to learn about their structure. The powerful new tool lets scientists recreate conditions found at the instant of the "Big Bang," a phrase that describes how physicists believe our universe was created. Essentially, this "super-collider" is a super-advanced experiment aimed at solving nature's oldest and most puzzling mysteries:
The collider tube buried along the French-Swiss border took 25 years to plan, $6 billion to build and involved over 9,000 scientists from more than 80 nations. This experiment -- like all of physics -- is based on the principle that the complex universe is orderly and rational, conforming to mathematical equations.
Project leader says: "The LHC is a discovery machine. Its research program has the potential to change our view of the universe profoundly, continuing a tradition of human curiosity that's as old as mankind itself." - Robert Aymar, Swiss lab director-general
U.S. professor says: "Nature can hurl cosmic rays of astronomically greater energy than anything the puny Large Hadron Collider can produce. In fact, the LHC is actually a pea shooter compared to what the universe has been hurling at the earth for billions of years." - Michio Kaku, physicist at the City University of New York
British researcher says: "Nature can surprise us. We have to be ready to detect anything it throws at us. That's why many of us haven't minded spending our entire working lives building this experiment." - Tejinder Virdee, physicist at Imperial College in London, England
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