Large Hadron Collider Fires Up; World Continues to Exist

The first proton beam whizzed around the Large Hadron Collider track today, far underground, beneath the Swiss-Franco border. “Like first light in a telescope, the first beam in the particle accelerator is a landmark moment for a program that has spanned more than 20 years and involved tens of thousands of scientists,” reports Wired News.

The track is the world’s largest, spanning 17 miles, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Scientists won’t get busy with the good stuff–smashing atoms!–for several weeks, but when they do, many predict discoveries that will revolutionize physics, even our basic understanding of the world. Wired does a heck of a breakdown.

Other predictions for the outcome of the high-energy collisions haven’t been nearly as rosy. Doomsday scenarios include the creation of mini black holes and “dark matter” particles called strangelets. Even though independent reviews have deemed the planned experiments safe, my friend still thinks we should probably be throwing an end-of-the-world party come mid-October. I’m inclined to agree. No RSVP necessary, just check before heading over.

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