UC Irvine scientists are playing a key role in the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Built in Switzerland, the $9 billion atom smasher seeks to recreate conditions just a fraction of a second after the Big Bang that created the physical universe. Seven UCI faculty members and dozens of postdoctoral researchers and staff members are involved with the LHC. They developed electronics, computer systems and software integral to collecting and recording data. Years of hard work by more than 8,000 physicists from more than 85 countries culminated Wednesday, Sept. 10, when scientists began circulating two beams of protons around the tunnel in opposite directions. The ATLAS portion of the LHC is pictured.