Since 2009, the world's highest-energy particle accelerator, located in a 16-mile-long tunnel on the Franco-Swiss border, has been smashing protons together to investigate the fundamental nature of matter, the BBC reported Wednesday.
In a new four-week round of experiments by European Organization for Nuclear Research, the huge machine will be colliding lead ions instead to recreate what the universe looked like in its earliest seconds.
The tests could provide an insight into the conditions of the universe an estimated 13.7 billion years ago, just after the big bang, spokesman James Gillies told the BBC.
Researchers said the temperatures and densities that the collider will aim to create in its collisions, and the resulting fireballs, will be the highest ever produced in an experiment.
"Although the tiny fireballs will only exist for a fleeting moment (less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a second) the temperatures will reach over 10 trillion degrees, a million times hotter than the center of the Sun," David Evans from the University of Birmingham said.
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