Protons collide at speeds 99 percent the speed of light inside the LHC

Protons were whipped to speeds greater than 99 percent the speed of light Tuesday inside the Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest physics machine, to make subatomic particles collide, The New York Times reported.

The LHC, a 17-mile underground magnetic track outside Geneva, has been the home of this project for 16 years at the cost of $10 billion, the Times said.

The Times said CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, built the collider with their top goals being identifying dark matter, which shapes visible cosmos, and the Higgs boson, a particle thought to saturate other particles with mass.

The Minnesota Daily said the track, which is located 100 meters underground, hadn't been used in two years. They also reported the 16 years worth of research was helped in part by University of Minnesota physicists, who have been working on the project since 1993. They said the University physicists--over 25 of them, in fact--helped design and build the collider with other international scientists and engineers on behalf of CERN.

The Daily said Kevin Klapoetke, a University graduate student, said the LHC could identify the origin of mass, dark matter, black holes and more.

Both sources report there needs to be more work done on the LHC before it will be working up to its full potential. However, the Times said CERN physicists will spend the next four to six months learning about their own detectors and reviewing known physics before moving on to larger projects.

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