The LHC is the world's largest particle accelerator. It's so huge, tinfoil-hatted doomsayers claimed that the simple act of turning it on might end the universe as we know it. How do rational, analytical physicists deal with such anti-science hysteria? By recreating the Big Bang, of course!
Okay, it's not so much as a Big Bang as a Mini Bang, but it does effectively reproduce the opening nanosecond of the universe's birth. CERN researchers emulated the historic event by colliding hyper-accelerated lead ions head-on.
These atomic car-crashes created superdense fireballs which had internal temperatures reaching 1.8 × 1013 °F. To put it in layman's terms, that's hot enough to break down atoms into a soup of subatomic quarks and gluons, called a quark-gluon plasma.
These subatomic cocktail explosions will be studied using another gadget of mad science, the ALICE, or ALarge heavy Ion Collider Experiment. The 10,000 ton detector will give scientists an in-depth look into the the universe's Michael Bay beginnings.
[via New Scientist]