The world's largest atom smasher conducted its first experiments at conditions nearing those after the Big Bang today, breaking its own record for high-energy collisions with proton beams crashing into each other at three times more force than ever before. In a milestone for the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider's ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and microforces, CERN scientists collided the beams and took measurements at a combined energy level of 7 trillion electron volts.
The collisions herald a new era for researchers working on the machine in a 17-mile tunnel below the Swiss-French border at Geneva. "That's it! They've had a collision," said one observer as people closely watched monitors. In a control room, scientists erupted with applause when the first successful collisions were confirmed. Dubbed the world's largest scientific experiment, it's intended to approach on a tiny scale what happened in the first split seconds after the Big Bang.