The only relation between the world’s largest particle accelerator and the financial topics that usually are posted on this site is the massive cost of the project at an expected €3.7 billion or $5.58 billion, well over twice the budgeted cost. A video is posted below explaining what a particle accelerator does, but basically it takes a package of protons and accelerates them to the speed of light in a large 17 mile circumference circle that straddles France and Switzerland . As the packets of protons approach the speed of light their mass gets heavier (7,000 times heavier than resting mass) and then the packets are made to collide head on, each packet of protons going nearly the speed of light. Needless to say, when two things collide at nearly the speed of light there is a tremendous release of energy. The idea is to recreate a mini “big bang” in which physicists can try to understand the most basic building blocks of the universe. Despite the physicists joy, there are some who believe that the large hadron collider (LHC) will create a mini black hole which will devour our planet. The funny thing is, no one knows for sure.
The project seems to hit endless hurdles that seem almost ridiculous. On September 9th, 2008 hackers infiltrate the hadron collider’s computer systems to “expose security flaws”. On September 19th 2008, only 11 days before the first real tests were to be conducted on the collider, the particle accelerator experienced a magnetic quench which bent 100 magnets in two sectors with a loss of 6 tons of liquid helium. Even more amusing is that in early November of 2009 the scientists found that the cooling system was not working. They finally found the problem to the cryogenic cooling system when they found that a “piece of crusty bread had paralysed a high voltage installation that should have been powering the cooling unit“. They believe that a bird had dropped a baguette on the system and paralyzed the collider!
That gets to the amusing theory that is permeating around the edges of the internet: time travelers are trying to stop the Large Hadron Collider from starting up so that we do not destroy the Universe.
Anyway, cross your fingers as it gets up to speed because it seems that the big investment is starting to pay off.