All Systems Go for World's Largest Particle Smasher

By Eliza Strickland | August 26, 2008 2:30 pm

Large Hadron Collider trackAfter 15 years of construction, the world’s largest particle accelerator is warmed up, fully tested, and ready to rumble. The Large Hadron Collider will go into operation on September 10th, and researchers are celebrating every step towards that momentous day. Last weekend, physicists popped champagne to toast the results of a test in which beams of protons were sent barreling into a massive block of concrete, causing the protons to fragment into smaller particles. Researchers have also successfully sent test batches of protons part-way around the collider’s 17-mile circular track.

The Large Hadron Collider represents the science world’s latest, greatest attempt to smash its way into the mysteries of the universe: Beams of protons will eventually collide with the energy of two bullet trains – spawning sprays of subatomic debris that are certain to lead to new discoveries…. One experiment at the LHC, known as ALICE, seeks to re-create the conditions that existed just an instant after the big bang that gave rise to the universe as we know it. [The collider’s] researchers want to understand why matter won out over antimatter after the creation of the cosmos [MSNBC].

Another research goal is to find evidence of hypothetical particles that physicists believe could explain the subatomic structure of the universe. The LHC’s high-energy collisions will allow physicists to search for new particles such as the fabled Higgs boson, which is thought to be responsible for conferring the property of mass on other particles [Nature News]. The Higgs boson is named after the physicist Peter Higgs who proposed the particle’s existence almost 50 years ago, although more fanciful physicists call it the “God particle” because its discovery could unify understanding of particle physics and help humans “know the mind of God” [MSNBC].

On September 10th, researchers will send a stream of protons all the way around the circular track in one direction, as a prelude to sending beams in both directions and smashing them together later in the year [Reuters]. That event is being heralded as the collider’s official opening day, and will be covered by a live webcast beginning at 8:30 a.m., Swiss time.

To learn why the Large Hadron Collider probably won’t create little black holes that engulf our planet, check out the DISCOVER article, “The Extremely Long Odds Against the Destruction of the Earth.”

Image: CERN

Related Posts: The Large Hadron Collider Will Finally Start Smashing in September
Physics Experiment Won’t Destroy Earth

  • Damian

    I hope you can convince Discover Magazine to send you on a fact finding mission to CERN to expand this post.

  • JTankers

    I read the other Discover Article on “little black holes”, basically a repeat of reassuring miss-information from CERN. Very misleading.

    CERN argues that there is no REAL risk of catastrophe. But that is not what Professor Dr. Otto Rossler’s papers [1], Dr. Rainer Plaga’s paper [2], and nuclear physicist Walter L. Wagner’s US Federal Lawsuit filings calculate [3]. They all calculate REAL risk and at least potentially REAL HIGH risk.

    Dr. Rossler states on his blog of similar arguments “I consider it very plausible that the [disinformation] policy of CERN’s has shielded the author from his field of research for the last 18 months” [4]

    I could not agree more strongly with that statement.

    [1] ”A Rational and Moral and Spiritual Dilemma” – Otto E. Rōssler Safety Counter Arguments
    [2] ”On the potential catastrophic risk from metastable quantum-black holes produced at particle colliders” – Rainer Plaga Rebuttal, 8/10/2008
    [3] Walter L. Wagner, US Federal Lawsuit
    [4] “On the Splendid Article by Michael E. Peskin” by Otto E. Rossler, August 21, 2008

  • Joe

    Higgs was not the first to the party on this discovery.

  • Michael Noonan

    One of the arguments for the project is that the LHC at CERN is essential to provide the ultimate test for theoretical science. The logical extension to that is to call it the final and ultimate test and fund no more and approve no more if the Higgs boson is not discovered and PROVEN exclusively to have a viable use and function. It is too late to stop this experiment but it really might be about time to reign in uncontrolled and highly dangerous lines of inquiry.

  • Smokey McPotts

    Woooooooooo Particle Smasher!

  • Smokey McPotts

    Wooooooooooo Particle Smasher!!

  • Smokey McPotts

    Woooooooo Particle Smasher!!!


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