March 30, 2010
Posted: 05:17 PM ET
(CNN) - Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider managed to make two proton beams collide at high energy Tuesday, marking a "new territory" in physics, according to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The $10 billion research tool has been accelerating the beams since November in the LHC's 17-mile tunnel on the border of Switzerland and France.
The beams have routinely been circulating at 3.5 TeV, or teraelectron volts, the highest energy achieved at the LHC so far, according to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The first two attempts Tuesday failed, said Steve Myers, CERN's director for accelerators. He said the beams were lost before they reached their full energy.
Experiments at the LHC may help answer fundamental questions such as why Albert Einstein's theory of relativity - which describes the world on a large scale - doesn't jibe with quantum mechanics, which deals with matter far too small to see.
The collider may help scientists discover new properties of nature. The as-yet theoretical Higgs boson, also called "the God particle" in popular parlance, could emerge within two or three years, Myers said in November.
Evidence of supersymmetry - the idea that every particle has a "super partner" with similar properties in a quantum dimension (according to some physics theories, there are hidden dimensions in the universe) - could crop up as early as 2010.
The collider has been dogged by problems. It made headlines late last year when a bird apparently dropped a "bit of baguette" into the accelerator, making the machine shut down.
Filed under: Science
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