Last night, as scientists put the Large Hadron Collider through its paces in tests, scientists recorded protons colliding at 1.18 trillion electron volts.

Although operations aren't due to fully get under way until next year, scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) have been testing equipment.

In one of the large collision chambers, equipment in one of the detectors, dubbed the Atlas 'experiment' was turned on.

It registered a number of collisions, including one where two beams of protons, going in opposite directions, smashed into each other while travelling at a massive 1.8 trillion electron volts (TeV).

Smash and grab

According to spokeswoman Christine Sutton: "They recorded a handful of collisions, and one of them looks quite nice, so it's on their website."

1.18 trillion electron volts is the same level the LHC recorded in November, setting a new world record for beam energy, and leapfrogging it ahead of Fermilab near Chicago, which previously had the record.

When LHC ramps up properly in 2010, it will conduct lower-energy collisions before returning to 1.8 TeV. After that things will get really interesting as they move up to 3.5 TeV.

At those levels scientists feel they'll learn more about dark matter and the Big Bang that many believe was the start of the universe. That is, unless the future comes back to bite them first.

Via the Independent