Large Hadron Collider: The Controversial Search for the God Particle
Will the Large Hadron Collider, set to be fired up on Wednesday, bring about the end of the world? Most physicists say no — but they are hoping for clues as to how the universe began.
Talk about a public relations problem. Imagine spending years sinking vast quantities of money, time and ambition into an intricately complex project only to face accusations just before the project’s debut that you might accidentally bring about the end of the world.
This, essentially, is the PR issue facing the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as scientists on Wednesday plan to send the first beam of protons around the 27-kilometer (17-mile) long loop buried deep below ground not far from Geneva, Switzerland. Physicists say that the €6.4 billion ($9.2 billion) project — the lion’s share of which came from European countries — may provide unique new insights into how our universe was formed, the existence of “dark matter” and even the possible reality of a number of new dimensions.
Critics, though, many of whom have found a powerful platform on the Internet, fear that by smashing protons against each other at 99.9999991 percent of the speed of light, scientists could create tiny black holes which could eventually grow to the point that they swallow up the Earth.