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Big Bang Experiment Large Hadron Collider (LHC) highest energy reading

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), also known as the Big Bang machine, made history here Tuesday, as the machine smashed together particles at the highest energy reading ever recreated in a laboratory.

"Experiments are collecting their first physics data - historic moment here!" scientists at the lab wrote on their Twitter feed.

The excitement at finally being able to record data, after countless setbacks, was noted in previous messages, which included numerous exclamation points from the researchers in Geneva as each step of the process was completed.

The fact that the data would take months or years to be evaluated hardly dampened the joy of researchers, many of whom believe a new era of science was being born.

The historic collision - with proton beams being smashed into each other at 3.5 times the previous record speeds - are expected to help scientists understand the nature of the universe.

Hiccups at the LHC in the early morning, however, including proton beams falling offline, were quickly fixed, allowing the scientists, and their followers around the world, to watch as the historic moment unfolded.

In 2008, at a first attempt, the $10 billion project saw severe technical problems, which knocked the machine out of commission. After 14 months of repairs, and several runs at lower energy levels, the time was finally ripe again to attempt the main experiment.

The LHC - located 100 metres below the earth's surface at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, at the border between Switzerland and France - generated the fastest ever collisions of particles at 7 teraelectronvolts (TeV) - a massive measure of energy.

CERN now plans to run the machine continuously for a period of 18 to 24 months, with a brief interruption for technical purposes at the end of 2010.

The aim is to see if certain particles can be recreated, in an effort to understand the moment after the Big Bang - believed to be the explosive event some 14 billion years ago which started the Universe - in part by explaining how elementary particles acquire mass.

Scientists are searching for the so-called Higgs boson particle, and explain why matter has mass. (IANS)

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