The Large Hadron Collider, soon-to-be the world’s most powerful atom smasher, begins testing this weekend.
CERN will fire the first test beam through one of the particle accelerator’s sectors.
The purpose of this test? “It’s, Let’s see what happens.” Judy Jackson, head of the Office Communications at Fermilab, told Popular Mechanics. “It’s a very complex machine. This is a step towards getting ready.”
On September 10th, a full-power beam will travel through the accelerator’s entire 17 miles of tunnels, reaching up to 99.99 percent of the speed of light (670,549,567.34 MPH). And finally, assuming all goes well (i.e. no micro-blackholes, stranglets, wormholes etc.), the first real science experiments will begin some time in October.
Though the initial test beams won’t be nearly as energetic as physicists hoped, subsequent beams will be. It’s cost almost $8 billion so far and taken 12 years to build and now we all get to see if…well, it really works. Once it’s up and running, researchers hope to use it to answer many important questions about the nature of mass, dark matter, and the earliest moments of our universe.
- Wikipedia: Large Hadron Collider
- The Christian Science Monitor: Overview of LHC
- Wired: LHC Four Part Series