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Perspectives

September 10, 2008
Worry over Swiss nuclear test unfounded

Alex Knapp writes for the public and foreign affairs blog Outside the Beltway.

Large hadron collider will switch on tomorrow; world will be fine

Amidst a bunch of conspiracy theorist nonsense, CERN will be switching on the Large Hadron Collider to begin the process of experimentation tomorrow (it’s already been switched on twice before for testing).

At roughly 3:30 a.m. Eastern time, scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, say they will try to send the first beam of protons around a 17-mile-long racetrack known as the Large Hadron Collider, 300 feet underneath the Swiss-French border outside Geneva. And a generation of physicists, watching from control rooms and auditoriums on the scene, on Webcasts at webcast.cern or on Eurovision will meet their destiny. The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, outside Chicago, will hold a “pajama party” for staff members and journalists to watch the events live from a remote control room.

The collider, 14 years and $8 billion in the making, is the most expensive scientific experiment to date. Thousands of physicists from dozens of countries have been involved in building the collider and its huge particle detectors. It is designed to accelerate protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts — seven times the energy of the next largest machine in the world, Fermilab’s Tevatron — and smash them together.

The experiment being conducted here is really cool–it’s an examination of the fundamental particles of the universe and a chance to confirm some physics theory about how everything is put together.

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Associated thumbnail courtesy of Flickr user dirtybronson under a Creative Commons license.

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1 comment

#1

This experiment looks intriguing, but it’s like playing God to some degree, isn’t it?

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