Large Hadron Collider creates ‘mini Big Bang’ with lead ions
The Large Hadron Collider has succeeded in recreating a miniature version of the Big Bang by smashing stripped-down lead atoms together. The latest experiment at CERN went ahead despite warnings by a group called Heavy Ion Alert that it could trigger a catastrophic chain reaction that might destroy the Earth.The reaction created temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun, which have not been reached since the first billionths of a second following the Big Bang.
This was expected to cause atomic particles such as protons and neutrons to melt, producing a “soup” of matter in a state previously unseen on Earth. Scientists, including British particle physicists, will now study the particles in the hope of discovering what holds atoms together and gives them their mass.
The collisions were produced by firing lead ions – atoms with their electrons removed – at incredible speeds in opposite directions around the LHC's underground tunnel at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva.
The heavyweight particle collisions follow seven months of earlier experiments crashing protons – which are 200 times lighter than lead ions – at near-light speeds.
Dr. David Evans, of Birmingham University, said on Sunday: “We are thrilled with the achievement. The collisions generated mini Big Bangs and the highest temperatures and densities ever achieved in an experiment.
“This process took place in a safe, controlled environment generating incredibly hot and dense subatomic fireballs with temperatures of over ten trillion degrees – a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun.”
He added: “At these temperatures even protons and neutrons, which make up the nuclei of atoms, melt resulting in a hot dense soup of quarks and gluons known as a Quark-Gluon Plasma.
“By studying this plasma, physicists hope to learn more about the Strong Force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.” The latest experiment at CERN went ahead despite warnings by a group called Heavy Ion Alert that it could trigger a catastrophic chain reaction that might destroy the Earth. LHC scientists say the claim is nonsense.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)