Huge Fridge Colder Than Outer Space
Credit: CERN
Credit: CERN

Construction on a cooling system for the world's biggest science experiment that produces temperatures colder than outer space was completed today.

The mammoth chill factory can generate temperatures as low as 1.9 degrees above absolute zero (-456 degrees Fahrenheit) for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a circular particle smasher 17 miles (27 kilometers) wide that is being built at the CERN physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

The cooling system uses more than 10,000 tons of liquid nitrogen and 130 tons of liquid helium.

"This is a huge accomplishment," says LHC project leader Lyn Evans. "Now that it is done, we can concentrate on getting the machine cold and ready for physics."

The LHC is slated to begin operation in May 2008.