Large Hadron Collider sets particle acceleration record

The "Big Bang" experiment at Cern near Geneva scored a world record yesterday by accelerating beams to the highest energy ever achieved in a particle collider.

Scientists at Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, said the achievement marked a major milestone on the way to tests next year which they hope will unlock secrets of the origins and make-up of the universe. The energy of the twin beams circulated around 17-mile tunnels deep underground went, at 1.18 trillion electric volts (TeV), well past the previous highest – just under 1 TeV – achieved in a collider at the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The achievement in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) came 10 days after the world's largest scientific experiment was restarted following an accident soon after its launch in September 2008. "We are still coming to terms with just how smooth the LHC commissioning is going," said Rolf Heuer, Cern director general, as the record was announced. "It is fantastic."