EVER wonder what the universe was like a split second after the big bang? You just might know in 2007.

According to Newscientist, the Centre Etudes et Recherche Nucleaire (CERN), the European Centre for Particle Physics near Geneva, is nearing the completion of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 27-kilometer cylinder laid 100 meters underground straddling the French and Swiss borders that will smash protons into each other with a collision energy of 14 teraelectronvolts—almost as powerful as a nuclear explosion.

At this impact, great amounts of energy will be reduced into a small volume, imitating a hot fireball that filled the universe a split-second after the big bang, scientists say.

“The LHC is ringed with electromagnets. Through these electromagnets, they can influence and propel atoms to move at the right velocity, thus smashing the atoms together,” said Dr. Augusto Morales, Jr. of the Department of Mathematics and Physics in the College of Science. “From this, the elementary particles (the protons, neutrons and electrons) will be isolated (to study the effects more easily).”

LHC is used for experiments in particle acceleration, which helps physicists unite three of the four fundamental forces of nature (strong, weak, electromagnetic and gravitational forces) to look for undiscovered particles.

Four detectors, including the A Torodial LHC Apparatus (Atlas) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), the two largest, will look for the Higgs particle, believed to endow the particles with mass. They will also look for the “supersymmetric” particles, which have constant motion equations.

Another detector, the LHC “Beauty” experiment, will examine the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe by studying the asymmetry in the production of B mesons particles, which are composed of quarks and antiquarks, believed to be the building blocks of protons, electrons, and neutrons.

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“Ideally, the ratio of matter and antimatter should be 50:50 because of the conservation principle,” Morales told the Varsitarian. The conservation principle suggests that all energy in the universe is constant.

A Large Ion Collider Experiment, the fourth major detector, will look for the quark-gluon plasma, also believed to exist a fraction of a second after the big bang. But the LHC will not use protons to produce the quark-gluon plasma, instead it will collide heavy ions such as lead. Marie Ghiselle V. Villorente

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