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and the origins of primordial matter

ALICEALICE will seek a state of matter that is thought to have existed just after the Big Bang. The Universe was too dense and too hot -
100 000 times hotter than the temperature at the centre of the Sun - for our present matter to have formed. Its elementary constituents were able to move around freely in a “particle soup” known as quark-gluon plasma.

The LHC will accelerate lead ions that will collide inside ALICE and fleetingly recreate this particle soup. The collision rate will be lower than that of the experiments studying proton interactions but, as lead ions contain 208 protons and neutrons, the collisions will be more energetic and more complex, liberating tens of thousands of particles.

The ALICE collaboration has over 1000 members from 86 institutes in 29 countries all over the world. The detector, which is located at Point 2 of the LHC ring in Saint-Genis-Pouilly, is 15 m high and 25 m long and weighs around 10 000 tonnes, the equivalent of 20 Airbus A380 planes.