The LHC's main activity for 2011, colliding pairs of protons in a search for Higgs boson -- thought to endow other particles with mass -- came to an end as scheduled Sunday, NewScientist.com reported.
As physicists turn to analyzing data from that effort, the LHC will be used to collide lead ions starting Nov. 5 to produce pockets of very dense and hot matter, recreating the conditions that existed in the first seconds after the birth of the universe as posited by the big-bang theory.
Scientists say they hope lead ion collisions at the LHC will produce quark-gluon plasma, an exotic state of matter in which quarks -- normally bound in pairs or triplets -- are able to wander freely as they are thought to have done in the early moments of the universe's existence.
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