Atom Smasher Preps for Proton Collisions

Particle beams are once again circulating in the world's most powerful particle accelerator, CERN1's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), pictured in Geneva, November 20, 2009. atomic atom smasher nuclear European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN
Maximilien Brice, CERN
Operators of the world's largest atom smasher say they will try to collide proton beams at record high energy in one week.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, says beams have been circulating in the machine at 3.5 trillion electron volts since Friday.

That's 3½ times higher than the previous record set late last year.

The higher energy is meant to increase the likelihood that scientists will be able to examine particles and forces that could reveal secrets about the make up of matter and the universe.

Steve Myers, who is in charge of the accelerator in a 27-kilometer (17-mile) tunnel under the Swiss-French border at Geneva, said Tuesday it could take several days to achieve collisions because of the complexity of the task.