Success! The world’s largest scientific experiment ever built records the first particle collisions in Switzerland.

At 14:22 on Monday 23rd November 2009, the first clear evidence of a collision of particles was recorded from each of the two counter-rotating beams of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, or CERN as it is known near Geneva, Switzerland.


An image of an event in which a microscopic-black-hole was produced in the collision of two protons in a computer generated image of the ATLAS detector. Image provided by www.cern.ch

An image of an event in which a microscopic-black-hole was produced in the collision of two protons in a computer generated image of the ATLAS detector. Image provided by www.cern.ch

Following weeks of preparation, the international team of CERN scientists watched on as recent and rapid progress in the testing of the new accelerator brought to fruition success from the revolutionary international project.


“Arriving here at CERN from Melbourne at mid-day Monday, the feeling of anticipation was palpable,” Professor Geoffrey N. Taylor, from the University of Melbourne’s School of Physics said.


Professor Taylor recalled how physicists assembled at the time, ‘cheered wildly’ as depictions of the particle collision were projected onto the wall of the ATLAS control room.


This event signals the completion of the development phase of the ATLAS experiment to which Australia’s commitment has been $700m, led for the past 20 years by Professor Taylor.


Although much work remains to be done on this experiment, scientists believe this achievement has proven the promised potential and justification of the largest scientific experiment ever built.


Both the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney are foundation institutes within the ATLAS collaboration. This results in Australian science having an excellent participatory role in a project, which involves 10,000 scientists from over 100 countries, that is hoped will unravel some of science’s longest-running mysteries of the universe.


For more information, please visit: www.cern.ch or www.lhc.ac.uk