It turns out the Large Hadron Collider (LHC for short) isn’t going to kill us all, which is probably a great relief to those of you reading this. You can be rest assured that the experimental device near Geneva, Switzerland, has successfully smashed it’s first protons since the project was launched over a year ago and didn’t kill anybody in the process…never mind destroying the planet like some people were claiming.
The LHC is a gigantic particle accelerator, but its sole purpose is to smash particles against each other at high speeds, rather than just speed them up for less-risky types of physics experiments. It’s the largest (and most expensive…and most controversial…and most reputed…and…do you get the picture that it’s a big deal?) particle accelerator in the world, running a circumference of 27 kilometers (17 miles for those of you on the metric system) and has such a massive radius that it actually dips partially into France along the Swiss border.
This massive physics toy cost approximately 4.6 BILLION Swiss Francs (that’s about 3 billion Euros, which is about 4.5 billion US dollars).
By smashing particles at various speeds, the project was designed to simulate the Big Bang which supposedly created the universe. As cool as that is, there’s several problems with this idea – most notably being that the Big Bang was supposed to be a massive explosion…now I’m not sure about you but I don’t like the idea of somebody in Switzerland playing with a device that could create an entire solar system by flipping a switch – let’s just park it over by Greenland! There’s plenty of space to park a few planets and hundreds of stars!
And that’s what prompted Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho to file a lawsuit against the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN for short) – the creators and operators of this doomsday device. According to Fox News, the device has the potential to cause massive devastation and is extremely unstable. You can read about the details of the lawsuit on the Fox News website when they first covered the story back in 2008: Fox News – Lawsuit: Huge Atom Smasher Could Destroy World.
However, regardless of the risks, the scientists at CERN have spent the past year fixing some last minute problems with their new toy (if you could call a few hundred million Euro’s a last minute problem), and they activated the powerful machine just a few weeks ago.
On November 20, 2009 they proudly announced that their device hadn’t in fact destroyed the planet (that’s great news!), and they had successfully smashed (you’d figure physicists would come up with a more technical term than “smashed”) two protons and had learned a great deal about the nature of the universe. More experiments involving the smashing of protons are planned for the immediate future (which is good…otherwise they just spent close to 5 billion US dollars for something that took a week to actually do).
If you’d like to learn about the LHC and how it could blow up the planet with their next experiment, head over to the official website found here: LHC Official Website.