A Big Bang... of Innovation

At the site of the world's most powerful accelerator, physicists aim to recreate the Big Bang. Innovation is an unexpectedbut welcomeby-product

While subatomic particles such as electrons and protons are very small, the devices used to study them are rather large. Consider ATLAS: the particle detector, still mid-construction, is about 45 meters long, more than 25 meters high, and weights about 7,000 tons. It was first imagined in 1994, and some 2,000 scientists and engineers from three dozen countries have been building it since January, 2003. Starting this November, ATLAS will observe and measure the collisions of minuscule beams of protons traveling at nearly the speed of light inside a new particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The collider is under construction at CERN, the largest particle-physics lab in the world, located near Geneva, Switzerland.

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