ALICE Experiment – University of Copenhagen

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Discovery Center > Research > ALICE Experiment

Before the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, the stars and the galaxies existed the universe was a primordial soup – a dense fog of hot plasma and colossal energy.

Within the first milliseconds of the Big Bang the matter was created that make up the whole universe – but how? Which physical forces caused the creation of the universe and made it look the way we know it?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator.

To solve the mystery about the structure and the forces of the matter the researchers have to recreate the primordial soup as it was immediately after the Big Bang. That requires enormous energies, and the experiments take place at CERN, the European laboratory for nuclear research outside Geneva, in the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) nuclear accelerator where temperatures can reach one hundred thousand times the temperature of the inner core of the sun.

By sending lead nuclei in opposite directions round the 27 km long circular subterranean atomic accelerator the researches will make them collide frontally at enormous energies so that they for a fleeting moment ‘melt’ into a so called quark-gluon-plasma that the universe is assumed to have been in immediately after the Big Bang. In that condition the atoms are dissolved into free fundamental particles that stream away from the point of collision, and it is those particles that the research group wants to record and study with the Danish detector equipment.

The detector is so sensitive that it can capture up to 80.000 particles per second. The incredibly sensitive equipment is right in the middle of a gigantic magnet the size of a six story house. It is to capture particles of a billionth part of a nanometer to solve the mysteries of our gigantic universe and study the fundamental rules that govern nature on the very smallest scale.