On Wednesday, 10 September 2008, a massive physics machine will begin spinning up. After that, things could get very interesting…
We are, of course, talking about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — a 17 Miles underground ring below the Swiss-French border that will see particle beams being hurled in opposite directions, traveling around the entire ring in less than 90 microseconds.
The first of these particle beams will be run through the ring on Wednesday — and then on 21 October two beams travelling in opposite directions are going to be placed in a collision course with each other.
And that’s what people are worried about.
Physicists are pretty sure that the resulting collision will allow them to finally see the theorised Higgs boson in action. Doomsayers fear a black hole could be formed and suck up the planet.
OK, that does sound suitably alarming and it’s not really that bad. But the LHC is still a very interesting piece of machinery.
In short, the machine could provide a miniature scale of the big bang theory in effect. It can provide an act of demonstration reflecting years of scientific theories. Or, for the very conservative, the end of the world.
UPDATE: 9:30. First beam injected and stopped at 1/8 of a circuit. Loud applause in the control room. The world is safe for now.