ROCK guitars could hold the key to the origins of the universe, hundreds of young science pupils were told.

The Institute of Physics held a lecture in Bolton entitled "Rock in 11 dimensions: where physics and guitars collide".

And acoustics physicist Dr Mark Lewney told more than 600 youngsters who attended that the vibration of guitar strings may answer unsolved questions about the Big Bang.

The lecture marked the launch of the Ogden Trust Science Partnership between local schools and universities. Its formation is designed to inspire the next generation of scientists.

In the mind-expanding and ear-stimulating show, Dr Lewney, had more than simple entertainment in mind when he strapped on his Ibanez Sabre rock guitar and leapt onto the stage.

Dr Lewney told the audience: "If you understand string vibrations you can appreciate music with both your head and your heart. And understanding the fundamentals of the universe as well is a massive bonus."

As well as demonstrating the physics of rock guitars and showing how the vibrations of guitar strings form the basis of String Theory - explaining the origins of the universe - he introduced students to the biggest experiment ever built; the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN science laboratories in Geneva, Switzerland and explained why the science community is so excited about what might happen when the "on" button is pressed later this year.

"The LHC will let us glimpse what the universe was like in its first trillionth of a second and may even help us discover the origins and nature of matter. It might even find the hidden dimensions' of String Theory, but there's plenty to be excited about even if it doesn't," said Dr Lewney.

"Everyone should be excited to live at a time when this experiment is so new and we're entering such unknown territory. People in future will say, Wow! Imagine living back then!'"

But while CERN's are important for the role they will play in exploring the fabric of the universe and understanding the very deepest questions of our existence and the universe's beginnings, such as where its mass came from and where most of it mysteriously disappeared to.