The cheering began at 8.32, when the first particles were detected snaking around the first three kilometres (1.9 miles) of the 27km (17mile) LHC ring. By 8.55, it was halfway around the track, which will soon be used to smash protons and lead ions against each other at 99.9999991 per cent of the speed of light. At 9.28, only 56 minutes after the start-up, came the champagne moment — the double trace showing that the beam had completed the first of countless trillions of laps that will explain many of the enduring mysteries of the Universe.
By recreating the environment of the dawn of time, the LHC will detect phenomena that have never before been observed. It should find the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle” that theory suggests gives matter its mass, but which has never been found.