Apr 20 2010
Could a physics experiment end the world?
 

On The Swiss-French border there lays a project that has been several years in the making, it looks basically like a 17 mile metal tube, but is actually a state of the art particle accelerator called a Relativistic heavy ion collider. The physicists involved in the multi billion dollar project hope to insert gold particles into the machine, which will then be rotated inside the tube at speeds nearing the speed of light. The idea is to recreate the same events that occurred during the big bang and at these extremely fast speeds the particles will begin to collide and create temperatures 10,000 times hotter than the sun. The scientists want to create plasma that only existed at the time of the big bang and never since.

This experiment has gotten some scientists and skeptics fearful of what might happen when we play around with elements of nature that we don’t fully understand; what if this new plasma turns out to be a back hole and engulfs the earth or what if the atomic level collisions ignite a chain reaction that atomizes existence as we know it. These may sound like far fetched stories, but the truth is that the scientists involved don’t fully know what will happen and as a result the first test run in 2005 was postponed till August 2008.

Since then the machine has run 3 times and was set at its highest setting this year in March 30th and now they have plans to crank  up the speed and power level sometime towards the end of this year and the beginning of 2011. Are these tests worth the risk of accidentally flipping a switch and imploding reality or are the worries nothing but a few paranoid conspiracy theories to get people in a panic and sell newspapers?

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