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Large Hadron Collider Key Component Completed

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator
by Staff Writers
Liverpool UK (SPX) Feb 21, 2006
British scientists said Tuesday they have completed construction of one of the endcaps for the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator.

The endcap, part of a semiconductor tracker based at the heart of ATLAS - a giant particle detector the size of a five-story building - will be shipped to the LHC site at CERN, the European Centre for Particle Physics Research, in Switzerland.

"We have to be extremely careful that the endcap we have constructed does not become damaged on its journey to Switzerland," said Neil Jackson, the device's project director. "We have just completed a trial run of the journey, using a dummy load to represent the endcap.

Accelerometers and position-sensitive detectors were positioned on the transport frame to monitor the machine and we tested driving conditions with emergency stops, sleeping policemen, gradients and motorway driving. The results of the test were very encouraging."

Jackson said the Liverpool team tested 988 detector modules and assembled them into the first LHC endcap. The modules will record the tracks of particle reactions produced as the huge accelerator collides billions of protons in the center of ATLAS.

When the LHC begins operations in 2007, scientists think the collisions it produces will be strong enough to recreate particles and reactions that were present approximately 1/10,000,000,000 of a second after the Big Bang when the temperature of the universe was 1,000,000,000,000,000 degrees.

"Using the LHC we are aiming to discover the Higgs particle and hoping to find evidence for so-called super-symmetric particles, which we believe could offer an explanation for the dark matter in the universe," Jackson explained. "At present, the normal matter that we can see in the universe accounts for only 5 percent of its mass. The origin of the missing mass is unknown, but super-symmetric particles may account for some of it. If we discover these particles, then we are on our way to explaining why the universe is made the way it is."

The LHC is being constructed 100 meters (325 feet) underground in a 16-mile long circular tunnel, running under the Franco-Swiss border. Inside the tunnel, the LHC will accelerate two particle beams to extremely high energies, and particles will crash into one another 40 million times a second, creating a snapshot of conditions that existed billionths of a second after the Big Bang.

ATLAS is the culmination of 15 years' work by more than 150 European institutions. Scientists designed it to find the Higgs particle that holds the key to understanding the origin of mass. Construction of its endcap was a joint effort by physicists, engineers and technicians from the Universities of Liverpool, Glasgow, Lancaster, Manchester and Sheffield as well as Daresbury and Rutherford Laboratories.

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Universe Burns Bright With X Rays From Giant Black Holes
St Louis MO (SPX) Feb 19, 2006
The universe contains hundreds of millions of super-massive black holes, many more than scientists previously had thought, and the monstrous objects occupying the centers of most galaxies seem to have evolved differently than expected.

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