This time, it’s for real, folks! The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is up and running (again), and has started circulating a beam.
For those who may not know, the LHC is only the biggest, baddest, and most powerful particle accelerator the world has seen to date, boasting a 27km circumference which crosses the border between France and Switzerland. Once the LHC is eventually ramped up to full power sometime after 2010, it will smash beams of electrons into each other at near light-speed to extend the limits of our understanding of the universe’s physics. Researchers are hoping to gain more insight into the Big Bang, discover new particles associated with supersymmetry, and possibly even discover the theoretical Higgs boson, which names the origin of mass in the universe. Some researchers even liken it to ‘The Force’ from Star Wars (nerds can dream too). The LHC is a collaboration between over 100 countries.
Various groups have criticized the LHC with claims that it will destroy the planet by creating microscopic black holes or theoretical particles known as ‘strangelets’. Two CERN-sponsored safety reviews, endorsed by the American Physical Society, were conducted and state there is no cause for concern. I, for one, am flipping excited to see what the research uncovers.