On Friday morning the Large Hadron Collider, the biggest physics experiment in the whole wide world, cranked up the volume and created two beams of protons with an energy of 3.5 trillion Volts (3.5 TeV).
Prof Brian Cox secured an exclusive interview for Science, Reason and Critical thinking with the Director of CERN, Professor Nigel Tufnel:
Prof. Tufnel: The LHS goes to 99.9999991% of the speed of light. Look, right across the board, 3.5 TeV, 3.5 TeV, 3.5 Tev and...
Prof. Cox: Oh, I see. And most particle accelerators go up to 99.995% of the speed of light?
Prof. Tufnel: Exactly.
Prof. Cox: Does that mean it's faster? Is it any faster?
Prof. Tufnel: Well, it's 0.0049991% faster, isn't it? It's not 99.995%. You see, most particle accelerators, you know, will be firing particles at 99.995% of the speed of light. You're on 99.995% here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on 99.995 on your accelerator. Where can you go from there? Where?
Prof. Cox: I don't know.
Prof. Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Prof. Cox: Put it up to 99.9999991% of the speed of light.
Prof. Tufnel: 99.9999991%. Exactly. 0.0049991% faster.
Prof. Cox: Why don't you just make it accelerate the particles to the speed of light?
Prof. Tufnel: [pause] The LHC goes to 99.9999991%.