PARIS – Scientists completed the first tests of the Large Hadron Collider last week, far more quickly than they had expected.

The LHC will be used to search for elusive subatomic particles. However, it will still be months before the first experimental data starts to flow from the LHC, according to Lyn Evans, leader of the LHC project at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) on the Franco-Swiss border.

The LHC consists of a circular tunnel 27 kilometers long within which two beams of protons will be confined in a magnetic field and accelerated around the tunnel in opposite directions to close to the speed of light before smashing into one another. Scientists hope that their computers will find evidence for the existence of the Higgs Boson, a particle predicted by theoretical physics, when they comb through their observations of the collisions.

CERN staff turned the LHC on for the first time Wednesday morning, and within a couple of hours had successfully guided the first proton beam all the way around the circular tunnel. Scientists at CERN spoke about the event via webcast.

“It may have looked easy to you, but it was only made to look easy because of the quality of the equipment, the quality of the software and the quality of the people,” said Evans.

This first milestone came sooner than expected, said R

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