Scientists at CERN may be getting closer to Higgs boson the particle that could help explain the birth of the universe billions of years ago.
Scientists came closer than ever to witnessing "Big Bang"-style conditions on Thursday after revving up the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN research centre to smash sub-atomic particles together faster and harder than ever before.
Physicists in the control rooms punched the air as multi-coloured arcs flashed across their screens, debris thrown up by the collisions of some of the millions of protons flung around the vast underground circuit at close to the speed of light.
"This is a great start to the 2012 run. It promises to be an amazing year for particle physics," said Oliver Buchmueller, a member of the CMS team that is conducting one of the two main experiments at CERN, which lies on the French-Swiss border.
The proton-smashers' big prize is the Higgs boson, the particle which - if it exists - explains why things have had mass since the birth of the universe 13.7 billion years ago.
Ramping the collider up to 8 Tera electron-volts, 15 percent more energy than last year, should produce up to 10 times more data than the previous two years of work on trying to replicate the conditions of the birth of energy and matter at the dawn of the universe.