After reading Final Theory I started to notice that there were a lot of news about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN). This multi-billion dollar project is set to start up its engine tomorrow and it has a few people on their toes. If their speculations are true, the end of the world is near.
The LHC is the largest particle accelerator facility in the world. It houses a twenty seven kilometer long tunnel which is located 174m underground. Part of the tunnel is in Switzerland and the other part is in France. On Wednesday, they will accelerate protons to more than 99.9999% the speed of light before smashing them together. The beams will be running parallel to each other but in opposite directions. When they’re ready, powerful superconducting magnets will bend the beams so that the particle stream collides inside four large chambers. The collision will generate temperatures about 100,000 times hotter than the sun. Scientists believe that this will created the conditions that were present after the Big Bang some fourteen billion years ago.
By performing this experiment, physicists hope to find a subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson or the God particle. If I understand it correctly, the Higgs boson is the particle that gives mass to other particles. It is the key to unlocking the mystery of the fundamental particles. Nobody knows why particles are charged the way they are or why they weigh differently so they’re hoping that the LHC will shed some light on the matter. The LHC won’t be able to measure the properties of the Higgs boson precisely but it will either discover it or exclude it. if they discover it, that’s good. If they exclude it, that’s bad.
On the other hand, there are people who are afraid that the collision will cause a something bad. If all it took was a spark to create the Big Bang, what’s to say that the same won’t happen when the particle collide? If the collision is concentrate at a small enough point, it could puncture a hole in space and create miniature black hole which will swallow the Earth from the inside.
All of that sounds implausible but then again, I don’t know much about physics. I don’t know much about black holes but a small one is probably too small to do any damage. But if one does open up, how do you plug up a hole in spacetime? Science has always boggled my mind in some way and I find myself asking questions and then trying to stop before I go crazy.
You can watch as they fire the first beam via a live broadcast. They’re schedule to start at 9:00am CEST which is 3:00am EST. If you want to tune in, you’d have to be up pretty late. And, if you’re reading this after Wednesday, September 10, 2008 it means that the world is still here and that we have billions of years to go before our demise.