One of the world’s leading laboratories for particle physics has produced another remarkable discovery.
The ATLAS project superheated the smallest atoms to temperatures at the birth of the universe, when particles were so hot they formed a primordial soup.
Now, scientists at CERN in Geneva have been able to produce, measure and study this cosmic fluid for the first time.
Fabiola Gianotti, Director of the Atlas Project, said:
“My Atlas experiments have observed, for the first time, a phenomenon known as “jet quenching.
“In the LHC big accelerator, conditions of very dense matter are produced under conditions of high temperatures identical to those of the primordial universe, 10 microseconds after the big bang.”
Asked about the aims of the LHC project, she said: “LHC is a very important physics programme. It will allow us to find answers to some fundamental questions that are still unsolved mysteries. One of the most personally fascinating is to understand what antimatter is made of. We know that 20 per cent of the universe is made of an unknown matter, unlike the ordinary matter of atoms that we are made of.”
It is the latest in a line of successful experiments for CERN, after already producing temperatures hotter than the sun, and even trapping antimatter, which was once thought impossible.