September 06, 2008

And now . . . this - Sept. 6/08

See, I told you we're all gonna die

Scientists working on the world's biggest machine are being besieged by phone calls and e-mails from people who fear the world will end this Wednesday, when the gigantic atom smasher starts up.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, where particles will begin to circulate around its 27km circumference tunnel on September 10, will recreate energies not seen since the universe was very young, when particles smash together at near the speed of light.

The machine has been shadowed by internet-fuelled concerns that it will release energies so powerful that it will create a runaway black hole that will engulf the planet, or a "strangelet" particle that would transform earth into a lump of strange matter.

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On the one hand, I have to admit I've always wanted to see Switzerland. On the other, I was hoping to get there by a more scenic journey than being sucked through the earth's core.

However, we should remain hopeful that the LHC might help us discover the long-elusive cluon, leading us at last to a cure for human credulity.