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Big Bang atom smasher starts speeding proton beams

GENEVA (AP) - A spokesman says the world's largest atom smasher has used its accelerator for the first time to speed up the proton beams in an initial test of its ability to reach much higher energy later.

James Gillies says the new step in the startup phase indicated continued smooth operation of the Large Hadron Collider since repairs following a spectacular collapse last year.

Gillies said Tuesday the energy of the proton beam was increased to 540 from 450 billion electron volts, still a long way from the power that will be needed for new discoveries into the makeup of the universe and matter.

He said it was a step on the way to 1.2 trillion electron volts which will make the LHC the most powerful collider in the world, replacing Fermilab's Tevatron near Chicago.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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