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March 17, 2008 | by  | in Features |
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Large Hadron Collider

Nestled somewhere in the respectable suburbs of northwest Geneva lies the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. CERN hosts some 7931 research physicists to play in its almighty powerful particle accelerators. Straddling the border of France and Switzerland, CERN’s 2600 full-time employees work under the jurisdiction of neither nation, and have a fleet of diplomatic fire trucks.

CERN is currently gearing up to begin the Large Hadron Collider. Constrained in a circular concrete tube thirty kilometres long, the Large Hadron Collider is hidden 100m underneath the Jura mountains. It will be the largest particle accelerator in existence when it opens, hopefully this May if all goes to plan. It has been delayed after failing a pressure test last March.

collider.jpg

Within the central accelerator, protons will be bunched together and collided at discrete intervals. Scientists shall watch excitedly as they test grand unified theories by searching for quarks and Higgs bosons; they’ll test the symmetry between matter and antimatter. In the trippier moments they will carry on the quest for alternate dimensions, guided by string theory. And they will ask dark energy to describe itself.

Nevertheless this mammoth warhorse of the god Science has spread some fears for the safety of reality. Some non-standard theories suggest the Large Hadron Collider will create one micro black hole per second. While such holes should be harmless, we’ve never met them before, and do not know how they will decay. Worse, there are concerns that an as yet hypothetical form of strange matter, the Strangelet, may raise its head within the accelerator. If the Strangelet is indeed lurking in the Large Hardon Collider, it may initiate a runaway fusion process converting all the nuclei in earth into one great Strange Star.

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About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

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  1. krit kuson says:

    LHC+H2O=Black Hole ( ! )

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