Repaired Atom Smasher Sets Proton Record

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
Scientists say the world's largest atom smasher has broken the record for proton acceleration, sending beams of the particles at 1.18 trillion electron volts.

A statement by the European Organization for Nuclear Research says the Large Hadron Collider eclipses the previous high, which was just short of 1 Tev at Fermilab outside Chicago.

The latest success Monday at the LHC is part of the preparation to go much higher for significant experiments to start next year on the makeup of matter and the universe.

It comes on top of a rapid series of operating advances of the machine, which underwent extensive repairs and improvements after it collapsed during the opening phase last year.

Ultimately, the collider aims to create conditions like they were 1 trillionth to 2 trillionths of a second after the Big Bang - which scientists think marked the creation of the universe billions of years ago. Physicists also hope the collider will help them see and understand other suspected phenomena, such as dark matter, antimatter and supersymmetry.

The restart of the LHC late Friday was hailed as a significant leap forward in efforts to launch new experiments - probably in January - on the makeup of matter and the universe.

The collider was started last September only to be heavily damaged by an electrical fault nine days later. It has taken 14 months to repair and add protection systems to the machine before it was restarted.

The nuclear physicists working on it were surprised at how quickly they got beams of protons whizzing through the 17-mile circular tunnel underground late Friday.