The stuff of stars and galaxies
I'm not sure what to make of this. Sometime today, the Large Hadron Collider will be turned on and particles will be sent hurtling at astonishing speeds to smash into each other, and this will either tell us something about the very stuff of stars and galaxies – and perhaps about the big bang – or blow a 27 km long hole in the Swiss-French border and suck half the Swiss Alps into a black hole and trigger the end of the world as we know it.
Either way, a whole bunch of scientists are getting very excited about it. According to the ABC's European correspondent, Raphael Epstein:
"By injecting concentrated beams of protons into the machine and watching them collide, scientists are striving to reveal more about the greatest event in history - the birth of the universe, the moment when everything we can see and measure, all the matter and electricity that makes up the stars and planets, was the size of a basketball, the scientists say."Aldo Saavedr, a theoretical physicist from Sydney University who is one of thousands of scientists who helped develop this project, told the ABC:
"In terms of discovery it is [just as significant as a landing on the moon], because it's something we don't see [often,] you only discover one thing in a life time, in the lifetime of the universe."Others, including a group who tried to use the courts to stop the collider being turned on today, think that it will spell the end of the world, or create black holes that will suck Europe into it, or create a portal allowing beings from another universe to invade ours.
Oh schmozzle. The old 'rip in the time-space continuum' thing.
Then again, you'd think the scientists would have learned their lesson when they let Tom Cruise land on Earth.
What I still can't get over is that it cost $9 billion to build the thing.
The image at the top was taken using the Hubble telescope, and is beautifully called 'Young Stars Sculpt Gas with Powerful Outflows in the Small Magellanic Cloud'. It is free off the Hubble website. The image below that is of the Large Hedron Collider.