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Large Hadron Collider doesn’t cause the end of the world – yet

The Earth didn’t move, or even twitch. And it certainly didn’t end – as you can tell by the fact you are reading this. By Neil Tweedie at CERN

The Large Hadron Collider , the greatest atom smasher ever created, the world’s biggest machine, was switched on today at CERN, the European nuclear research centre outside Geneva. And the result: rather less than earth shattering.

“Five, four, three, two, one, zero – nothing,” joked Lyn Evans, leader of the LHC project, before a fuzzy dot appeared on a monitor.

It was 9.30am local time when a stream of protons was introduced into a short stretch of the circular 17-mile underground racetrack, buried in the Jura Mountains on the Franco-Swiss border.

The fuzzy dot registered their arrival, and then – well, not a lot. But to the scientists who have devoted their working lives to the project it was a moment of consummation.

Protons streams were then introduced into more and more of the machine until less than an hour later – far earlier than predicted – a stream whizzed around the entire circumference of the particle accelerator at a shade under the speed of light. The LHC had passed its first crucial landmark.

A host of Jeremiahs have been predicting that the collider, costing £5bn and a quarter of a century in the making, will destroy the world by spawning mini black holes which will sink to the Earth’s core before gobbling it up

The scientists at CERN have dismissed the claim as ill-informed nonsense, and it certainly wasn’t going to happen on today’s inaugural test run, which did not include the sub-atomic collisions needed to produce an Earth-munching singularity.

Dr Evans, the coal miner’s son from Aberdare, south Wales, who grew to lead the LHC project, the biggest thing in so-called Big Science, was so moved by the first completed circuit that he could muster only a few words.

Large Hadron Collider

September 10, 2008 - Posted by | Genaral | , , , , ,

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