Sometime towards the end of August or possibly early September, the world’s biggest and most ambitious scientific experiment will go live: the LHC, or Large Hadron Collider will be started up at CERN in Geneva.
Particle physicist and TED favorite Brian Cox (watch his TED talk) has written a must-read essay explaining the science of the LHC, the questions surrounding mass, gravity and dark matter that the experiment is supposed to answer, and the hope that it will lead to “a deeper and more profound knowledge of how our world works”. He also debunks claims circulating on the Internet that turning on the LHC may create black holes that could destroy the planet.
My favorite quote from Brian’s essay, in a paragraph where he describes the human body: “The particles have been around for the entire life of the universe. They are spending the blink of a cosmic eye in the pattern known as ‘you'”.
And if you want to see how the LHC and its gigantic detectors and other machinery look like, here is my own report with pictures from a visit last year to the 27-km underground circular tunnel near Geneva.