The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was partially brought online Wednesday to successfully and gently steer the first beam around the 27-kilometer stretch that makes up the particle accelerator.
The occasion marks just the first step in bringing the international science project into its fully operational state, as no particles have yet been set to collide. The next few steps should take place over the next few weeks as the machine is gradually brought further online, from initializing the acceleration systems to bringing about the first collision. The task from there will be beginning the research aspect of the project, including further calibrations, measurements and analysis, with results appearing as soon as next year.
The LHC is the world’s largest particle accelerator, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and is based near Geneva, Switzerland. The project has been supported by the international community, with thousands of physicists from around the world participating, but with the European community taking the brunt of the near $10,000,000,000 bill.
The project is expected to help physicists better understand the universe by investigating its underlying forces and proving or disproving current related theories. For example, the Higgs boson is a theorized particle that some physicists are hoping to discover during the high-energy particle collisions. The discovery of the Higgs boson would help strengthen the Grand Unified Theory, which tries to explain a connection between three of the four fundamental forces in nature.
Some other investigations planned for the LHC will include studying the nature of dark matter and dark energy, searching for extra dimensions, investigating why gravity is so much weaker than the other three fundamental forces and for some, a search for micro black holes.
There has been some concern by the media and a few individuals who argue the safety of the experiments planned, as some fear the world could be destroyed by the creation of a black hole. The overall scientific community denies these concerns stating there is no conceivable threat posed by the expected particle collisions. Although it is argued that the creation of a micro black hole may be possible, despite the Standard Model denying so, if a micro black hole were to form, it would exist for only a short period of time. Doomsday could be as soon as late October if the paranoid skeptics are to be right.