Scientists say they are a step closer to recreating the conditions at the birth of the universe and to understanding life as we know it, after the successful collision of heavy lead ions in a massive machine in Europe.
This week, for the first time, ions were smashed together inside the Large Hadron Collider along the French and Swiss border. Until now, only protons had been collided in the experiment.
The tiny particles' lightning-fast collision promised to produce temperatures up to 100,000 times hotter than the sun, said Michael Tuts, a professor in experimental high-energy physics at New York's Columbia University and one of hundreds of scientists involved in the project.
"What we're doing is reproducing the conditions that existed at the very early universe, a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang," said Tuts, referencing the cosmic explosion that many scientists believe spawned the universe from one minuscule particle.