Scientists are planning to run the world's largest particle collider at full capacity by the end of 2008, a Russian physicist told, RIA Novosti reported.
During the first full tests conducted Wednesday, beams of sub-atomic particles were for the first time sent round the accelerator ring in opposite directions at almost the speed of light, but the powerful superconductor magnets in the collider operated at minimum capacity.
"The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is an extremely complex system," said Vladimir Karzhavin of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna. "That is why its initial launch is a very complicated and sensitive process."
The physicist, who heads of a team of Russian scientists from the institute who participate in the LHC project, said collisions initially would be rare and involve low-energy protons, but over time the frequency and energy output would gradually increase.
"By the end of this year-beginning of next year we are planning to reach the maximum collision energy of 14 TeV," Karzhavin said.
According to the design of the experiment, the work of the collider will stop in March 2009 to give the scientists six months to analyze the data acquired and check the condition of the system.
The LHC is based 100 meters below ground, with a circumference of 27 km, and is operated from the control room of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials as CERN.
Many scientists hope the experiment will reveal the Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle," a concept hypothesized in the 1960s to explain how atoms acquire mass. Discovering the particle could explain how matter appeared in the split-second after the Big Bang.
The international LHC project has involved more than 2,000 physicists from hundreds of universities and laboratories in 34 countries since 1984. Over 700 Russian physicists from 12 research institutes have taken part.