Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The Big Bang: Take 2

This morning, scientists on the Franco-Swiss border will flip the switch on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - a.k.a. The Big Bang Machine - a 12 storey high, 17-mile long underground ring, built at a cost of £5b, buried more than 300ft under the Alpine foothills, where subatomic particles will be accelerated to astonishing speeds and then smashed into each other.

The LHC will blast protons - one of the building blocks of atoms - at a velocity close to the speed of light, generating temperatures of more than a trillion degrees centigrade. Each proton beam will pack as much energy as a Eurostar train travelling at 150 kilometres per hour. The resulting collisions will hopefully replicate conditions found in the moments following the Big Bang - or the beginning of the universe - and scientists will study the fallout. Let's just hope nothing goes wrong!

And if you're worried that man's meddling is going to create a black hole under the Alps which will suck the Earth into it, then have a look at this to help calm your nerves.

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