Cern (France): As the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, famously known as CERN, explores the process behind the formation of the universe, Indian scientific and technological contribution is what keeps the world's biggest particle physics laboratory buzzing.

The prestigious institute that recently made a startling discovery, which if proved could challenge Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity, has a lot of Indian foot prints on it.

CERN, spread over two countries as it is situated near the Swiss-Franco border, has found possible evidence of the Einstein's century old theory being violated by neutrinos travelling faster than light.

At the core of the CERN is the 27-km long tunnel, over 70 metres beneath the ground, where the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) or commonly referred to as the Big Bang experiment was conducted recently.

The experiment had aimed to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang, when the universe is thought to have exploded into existence about 14 billion years ago.

"India is like a historic father of the project," CERN spokesperson Paolo Giubellino said as he took a group of journalists down to the tunnel, which was described jokingly by him as a "space time machine".

Explaining the ALICE project acronym for A Large Ion Collider Experiment, Giubellino said Indians have contributed immensely to it which aims to create Big Bang effects in a controlled environment.

Over 100 Indian scientists are working round the clock and 10 Indians institutes are participating in the project. The institutes involved in the project are Aligarh Muslim University, University of Jammu, Institute of Physics in Bhubaneshwar, Punjab University, Universities of Guwahati and
Rajasthan, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Bose Institute and IIT, Mumbai.

One of the main components of the ALICE hardware is the mind boggling 8,000 tonne magnet, heavier than the Eiffel tower,  that was made by Indian contribution.

Not to forget the millions of electronic chips made in Chandigarh and of course the Indian made hydraulic stands that support the tunnel, which is like the "biggest fridge in the world".

The temperature inside the tunnel is as low as a bone freezing -271 degree Celsius. Incidentally, the neutrino travels 11,000 times pèr second inside the tunnel.

The ALICE project has been started in 1990 and it took 20 years to build the mammoth infrastructure. The ALICE Grid framework also spreads to India.

In Kolkata, there is a dedicated centre for data monitoring and analysis for the ALICE experiment, set up by experts to attend to detector components remotely.

Smaller centres have also been set up in all Indian collaborating Institutes.

A whole lot of crucial parts of the project has either been built by Indian collaboration or exclusively by Indian firms. The Department of Atomic Research and the Department of Science and Technology are associated with the project.

The facility was yesterday visited by President Pratibha Patil, who is on a state visit to Switzerland. Among the numerous Heads of State, former Pakistan President Gen Parvez Musharraf had also visited the site.

(Agencies)