Volume 9 - April 19, 2006 - Guest Commentaries on ISTA

Doomsday Machine Large Hadron Collider?

A scientific essay about energies, dimensions, black holes, and the associated public attention to CERN

bridges vol. 19, October 2008  /  OpEds & Commentaries

By Norbert Frischauf

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norbert_frischauf_orion_small.jpgNorbert Frischauf

It was September 10, 2008, when the world’s largest experiment, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) started its operation. Located at CERN, the European Particle Accelerator Laboratory at the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, the LHC particle accelerator resembles an enormous ring with a circumference of 27 km (17 miles), buried 100 m (328 feet) underground. When it runs at full power, the LHC is able to accelerate protons to a velocity that reaches 99.9 percent of the speed of light, so each particle attains an enormous kinetic energy. At regular time intervals and deep in the center of dedicated particle-detectors at specific places in the ring, the accelerated protons are forced to follow a course that ends in a head-on collision, which releases the kinetic energy in an event that resembles a “mini-Big Bang.”

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