Monday, November 20, 2006
At security posts dotted around the fields between the Jura mountains and Lake Geneva scientists are installing hi-tech retina scans above shafts descending 80m down - and leading to the largest scientific instrument ever built.
The machine is being bolted together inside a tunnel 17 miles (27km) long, and when the power is thrown on next year it will recreate conditions unknown for 14bn years since the extraordinary fireball that marked the beginning of the universe - the big bang which blasted time and space into existence.
In the coming months engineers using cranes will lower sections of detectors weighing several thousand tonnes into caverns carved within the tunnel. They will wire in some of the world's largest magnets and test run the machine's computer, built to handle a torrent of data equivalent to 150 times the content of the world wide web each year.
The machine, the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, Europe's particle physics laboratory, in Switzerland, was commissioned as a GBP4.2bn sledgehammer to crack some of the most compelling mysteries of the universe.
...The project may prise open extra dimensions and create baby black holes; it may reveal enigmatic "dark energy" that drives the expansion of the universe. It should certainly discover what some call the "God particle", finally answering the embarrassingly simple but elusive question of why things have mass.
Continued at "In the beginning: scientists get ready to hunt for God particle"
The 'God Particle' is more properly known as 'Higgs Boson': one page explanations
The following non-streaming videos are available:
An 'instant play' video about the work being undertaken at CERN, featuring physicist Brian Cox (homepage) of The School of Physics and Astronomy University of Manchester, can be seen on this webpage.
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