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The Pending End Of The Earth

  • September 25th, 2008
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

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The end of the world will have to wait well into next year, with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland having to be shut down thanks to a faulty electrical connection between two of its accelerator magnets.

 

Liquid helium used to cool down the LHC’s magnets, reportedly leaked into the underground tunnel complex, freezing everything in its wake but fortunately not putting anyone at risk.
 

The only perceived risk now is losing costly time for the completion of the operation, investigators into the mishap having to wait for the apparatus to return to room temperature; which could take up to four weeks.
 

European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) Director General Robert Aymar said in a press conference that he remained optimistic despite the setback.
 

“Coming immediately after the very successful start of LHC operation on the tenth of September, this is undoubtedly a psychological blow”, he said.
 

Indeed it is a setback after a long period of promotion generated around the opening of the LHC;, some saying tiny “Black Holes” to be created from colliding protons inside the accelerator would result in the earth being sucked into oblivion.
 

Among some extreme reactions The Times of India reported a 16-year-old girl from Madhya Pradesh state had committed suicide after watching a news program about the possibility of a doomsday ending.

 

Scientists and others connected with the project have repeatedly sought to quash such fears.
 

Sceptics and opponents in Europe and the United States filed lawsuits, without success, to prevent the device being set of.
 

They insisted scientists hadn’t taken necessary precautions in assessing the risk of the Black Holes.
 

The $US7.9-billion dollar (AU$12.71; dcerates 27.10.08) science experiment was started, and claimed momentary success on 10.9.08, with the testing of a beam inside the collider.

 

The clash of particles, programmed to race around an underground circuit before being deflected onto a collision course, is intended to shed some light on so-called “dark matter” — the unsee-able phenomenon that occupies the great majority of space.

 

When the crash eventually comes to be engineered, it should replicate the first few instants after the “Big Bang”, and so begin to unlock the secrets of how the Universe began some 13.7 billion years ago.

Pictures: Inside the LHC; and representation of “the Universe”.

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