The answers to some of the greatest mysteries of the universe could be hidden in a pipe, built a 100 metres below the outskirts of Geneva. On Wednesday, researchers at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) will switch on the century’s most powerful scientific experiment. The aim, to try and recreate the conditions present in the Universe seconds after the ‘Big Bang’, around 13.7 billion years ago.
Project Leader Lyn Evans said: “It’s been an immense engineering, scientific
achievement. It’s the biggest scientific project ever constructed in the world.’‘
But what exactly does the experiment consist of? Around this 27 kilometre pipeline, called the Large Hadron Collider, are four large detectors. Once started, scientists plan to smash subatomic particles, such as protons, in the Collider in order to create new particles. Reaching speeds of around 300,000 kilometres per second – almost the speed of light – scientists expect to produce around 600 million collisions a second. In turn, these collisions will create an array of particles, some of which have not been seen since the Big Bang.