Fact You Should Know: Large Hadron Collider

“…it also could unmask the long-sought Higgs boson particle, one of the most elusive and mysterious objects since the Yeti.”

L.A. Times, Dec. 1, 2009

I had no idea that the Yeti was one of the most elusive and mysterious objects in all of science. Surely the human genome is more mysterious. Or perhaps even water on the moon?

Nonetheless, the ¬†LA Times writes that scientists in Europe this week made a successful test run of the fabled Large Hadron Collider. Like something out of a science fiction film, the super-futuristic “particle accelerator” is being built to “recreate conditions that existed shortly after the Big Bang.”

Here’s how it works: the Hadron Collider sends two proton beams¬†speeding in opposite directions through a 17-mile circular tunnel located 300 feet underground. When the beams collide at near the speed of light, the collision is expected to generate 14 trillion electron volts.

The LA Times surmises that the invention could “produce some of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 21st century.” Critics have feared that if it works it could create a black hole and vaporize the Universe, or something like that.

For these reasons and more, the Large Hadron Collider becomes the first-ever Weekndr Fact You Should Know.