So far, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has destroyed billions of protons by colliding them head-on inside its super-chilled detectors. Soon, however, the protons won't be alone, lead ions - whole atomic nuclei - will be smashed up. Why? To recreate the conditions immediately after the Big Bang.
Yes, you read that correctly, scientists working on the most powerful particle accelerator in the world are on the verge of generating their own micro-Big Bangs in an effort to study a state of matter that hasn't existed in the Universe for 13.75 billion years.
"Matter exists in various states: you can take a material like water and if you deep freeze it, it'll be solid, and if you put it on a table, it'll turn into a liquid, and if you put it into a kettle, it'll turn into a gas," CERN's spokesman James Gillies told BBC News reporter Katia Moskvitch.
"It's all the same stuff, but those are different states of matter. And if you take materials into laboratories, you can pull the electrons off the atoms and you have another state of matter which is called plasma."