The Large Hadron Collider

At 4:28am EST today, scientists at CERN successfully turned on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider. After nearly 15 years of work and roughly $8 billion USD of investment, I’m sure everyone involved in the project breathed huge sighs of relief when it didn’t explode this morning.

Eventually, the collider is expected to accelerate protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts and then smash them together, recreating conditions in the primordial fireball only a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists hope the machine will be a sort of Hubble Space Telescope of inner space, allowing them to detect new subatomic particles and forces of nature.

The LHC has received lots of negative publicity (but publicity nonetheless) in recent months, as some individuals feared that the collider could create a black hole that would swallow the Earth in an instant. Scientists from around the world unanimously declared that such a notion was complete nonsense. But the naysayers persisted.

Fortunately, naysayers inspire comedy on the Internet!

Here are a few funny LHC-related things I came across today:

Also funny looking though it isn’t meant to be, is the official LHC website. I didn’t know 1994 was back in style!

I think the LHC is pretty exciting (apparently Google does too, as they devoted a Doodle to it). I hope it enables all of the discoveries that scientists think it might. To learn more, check out the Wikipedia article.