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Greeks help recreate Big Bang in Geneva

There are many Greek researchers among the 20 employed permanently at the CERN research center in Geneva. Their focus at the moment is the Large Hadron Collider, which is due to switch on in May and will provide long-awaited answers to questions such as the composition of matter and the history of the universe. If all goes well, the LHC will reveal how the world was a few fractions of a second after the Big Bang and will open up new horizons in physics. The center of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, better known as CERN, is a paradise for physicists. All the city’s streets are named after scientists and even those occupying administrative or technical positions are physicists. Yiannis Papadopoulos, one of the scientists on the Greek team, is impressed by the whole venture. «Imagine that ATLAS, the largest particle detector, is 25 meters in diameter and 45 meters long and will detect tiny particles released during the collision of two beams of protons.» Oddly enough, the smaller the details you need to look at, the larger the machine required. In a circular tunnel with a circumference of 27 kilometers straddling the French-Swiss border at a depth of 100 meters under the earth’s surface, scientists have installed two thin cables in which proton beams travel in opposite directions. The pipes are enclosed with superconducting magnets along the length of the tunnel which accelerate the movement of the particles and also ensure the particles remain in one beam which is directed toward the target. Large detectors have been installed at four intersection points in this enormous underground network. These are complex structures made from the largest magnets ever built and can detect gases, vacuum distributions and whatever else may be required to record the particles that will be released from the collision of the two beams which will occur at this particular point. Scientists hope to reach important conclusions from the experiment. «We hope various interesting phenomena will occur such as the creation of small black holes and that new particles will be discovered, namely the Higgs boson, which if detected will be a major breakthrough,» said Michalis Koratzinos, a physicist who has been working at CERN for more than 20 years. The 15 Greek scientists working on the project explained that we are entering an energy field that we know very little about. Producing such high energy for the first time is like traveling back in time, just a few microseconds after the Big Bang. We can hypothesize about what we will find but there are also unknown phenomena that await us.