Massive particle collider passes first key tests

GENEVA (AP) -- What's being described as the biggest physics experiment in history has passed its first major tests.

The world's largest particle collider has fired two beams of protons in opposite directions around a 17-mile ring buried under the border of Switzerland and France.

The two beams were fired about five hours apart today, but eventually they'll be fired at the same time. The goal is to smash them together and recreate conditions that were in place a split second after the big bang, which scientists theorize is the massive explosion that created the universe.

The experiments could yield clues to unravel some of the deepest mysteries of the universe.

Scientists expect to be able to conduct collisions for their experiments "within a few months."

Some fear the project could lead to tiny black holes that could eventually suck in the Earth, but a project spokesman dismisses that notion as "nonsense."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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