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Big Bang machine is named top phenomenon

The Large Hadron Collider has been dubbed the "Phenomenon of the Year" by the editors of the prestigious journal Science, despite its technical difficulties.

The "Big Bang Machine", the world's largest particle accelerator, only functioned for nine days in September before a helium leak caused a malfunction, shutting it down until the summer of 2009.

Nevertheless, the editors of the United States-based journal said the collider would be a major success if the atom smasher produced "even a little data" given the complexity of the machine.

The collider, which runs in a 27-kilometre circuit under the Swiss-French border near Geneva, is designed to run at a temperature of close to absolute zero, which is colder than deep outer space. A faulty weld in the cooling system caused considerable mechanical damage to the machine. Repairs could cost SFr35 million ($29 million).

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) built the machine in the hope of finding out what happened when the universe was one trillionth of a second old.


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