The Large Hadron Collider has successfully created a “mini-Big Bang” by smashing together lead ions instead of protons.
The scientists working at the enormous machine on Franco-Swiss border achieved the unique conditions on 7 November. The experiment created temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun…
Up until now, the world’s highest-energy particle accelerator – which is run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) – has been colliding protons, in a bid to uncover mysteries of the Universe’s formation.
Proton collisions could help spot the elusive Higgs boson particle and signs of new physical laws, such as a framework called supersymmetry. But for the next four weeks, scientists at the LHC will concentrate on analysing the data obtained from the lead ion collisions. This way, they hope to learn more about the plasma the Universe was made of a millionth of a second after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago…
“This process took place in a safe, controlled environment, generating incredibly hot and dense sub-atomic fireballs with temperatures of over ten trillion degrees, a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun.
“At these temperatures even protons and neutrons, which make up the nuclei of atoms, melt resulting in a hot dense soup of quarks and gluons known as a quark-gluon plasma…”
He explained that by studying the plasma, physicists hoped to learn more about the so-called strong force – the force that binds the nuclei of atoms together and that is responsible for 98% of their mass.
It’s hot enough to turn angel wings into instant crisps. Just in case you wondered.