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Large Hadron Collider Initialized – Earth Not Incinerated September 10, 2008

by Kayla Iacovino , Filed under: Science/Technology , trackback

Whether you’ve been keeping up with Science Friday, been to  The Google today, or stopped into your local online physics forum lately, you may have heard about the Large Hadron Collider — the “world’s largest atom smasher” which some said would create black holes that would gobble up the Earth. Well, first beam was today, and it appears that we are all still here.

First Beam A Success!
Despite arguments to the contrary, the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland went off today for the first time and didn’t destroy the Earth! The hype was reminiscent of Y2K, but the odds that something catastrophic was actually going to happen were even lower.

“Our standard odds are 1,000,000/1, but anyone wanting longer or shorter odds is at liberty to take them. A number of customers took us up on our offer and have bet that the world will end as a result of the Large Hadron Collider experiment.”

The world-altering particle smashing won’t fully get going until around a year or so, which means that there’s plenty of time for you to see the new Star Trek movie next May. Phwew.

First beam broadcast live from the LHC in Geneva, Switzerland

What’s The Big Deal, Anyways?
So, world-ending atom smashing is great fun and all, but who cares about the LHC? Physicists, that’s who! Specifically, those studying the properties and nature of matter. Experiments at the LHC will allow physicists to complete a journey that started with Newton’s description of gravity. Gravity acts on mass, but so far science has been unable to explain the mechanism that generates mass. These experiments will hopefully provide the answer. In addition, LHC scientists will attempt to probe the mysteries of dark matter and antimatter in the universe – visible matter seems to account for just 5% of what must exist, while about a quarter is believed to be dark matter. In order to find the reason for nature’s preference for matter over antimatter, the LCH will probe matter as it existed at the very beginning of time, the big bang.

Scientists at the LHC watch as results come in from the first beam test


1. I'm Captain Kirk... I'M CAPTAIN KIRK! - September 10, 2008

First! Glad to be alive.

2. richpit - September 10, 2008

Yippee! GO LHC!!

3. Jared Butcher - September 10, 2008

Um they are willing to risk 6 Billion lives on a Million to one odds? So what happens when the fire this thing for the 999,999 time?

4. BeND Sinister - September 10, 2008

Pish-posh. Such worry over nothing at all indeed. Much ado for naught as nothing is askew whatsoever.

Now, I humbly beg your pardons as I have to schedule my own large collision for this evening. I must make haste to purchase precautions so that I do not end up responsible for generating new mass nine months down the road.


5. Dennis Bailey - September 10, 2008

Well, it will be about a year before the conditions exist in the thing that would make world annihilation possible. So we haven’t dodged that bullet yet.

Someone observed that human beings really go out of our ways to invent things that threaten our existence – nuclear weapons, the LHC, deep-fried twinkies-on-a-stick…

6. Thomas - September 10, 2008

Am I the only one who genuinely wasn’t worried?

7. rag451 - September 10, 2008

I feel kind of like Moe from ‘The Simpsons’ after the noose broke…

8. LHC- Life Has Continuance - September 10, 2008


9. Father Rob - September 10, 2008

Silly us not being concerned anymore… remember, leading sceptical physicists say it would take four years for the micro-black holes to be noticable… unless, of course, it punches through one of our left ventricles first…

Wind up the death clock everyone! The Aztecs were right! Armageddon is upon us! The End is Nigh! It’s a minute till midnight! Some of us demand four years of utter anarchy as we wait to be swallowed up by the black hole.

Hehehe… silly everyone!

10. Lord Garth, Master of the Universe - September 10, 2008

As long as the world is around long enough for Star Trek and Transformers 2 to come out first, I’m good.

11. Giuseppe - September 10, 2008

I wasn’t worried at all and I won’t be worried when LHC goes fully operational. I’m convinced the scientific world will learn new, wonderful things about Life, the Universe, and Everything :))

12. steve - September 10, 2008

13. steve - September 10, 2008

Someone observed that human beings really go out of our ways to invent things that threaten our existence – nuclear weapons, the LHC, deep-fried twinkies-on-a-stick…


And, Labradoodles. These are unnatural.

14. ~~TARA~~ - September 10, 2008

Didn’t think for a minute that the world would be destroyed. I’m glad the first beam was a success.

15. Commodore Redshirt - September 10, 2008

Am I still here?…
Yes, it seems I am…
Well, one can’t travel at warp speeds without a massive energy source, so I guess this is good news…
Next stop: ANTI-MATTER!

It just sounds like the intro to an old Fantastic Four comic book story…
“…deep in his underground laboratory somewhere on the Franco-Swiss border…”

16. John from Cincinnati - September 10, 2008

The microscopic black holes won’t accumulate into one big one until December 21, 2012.

17. NCC-73515 - September 10, 2008

If only they would spent that much money on other fields of research, too… perhaps brain research is a bit more important than nuclear physics…?

18. thebiggfrogg - September 10, 2008

Is it just me or does this look like the STMP engine room?

19. Will - September 10, 2008

Wow! We’re alive… who really thought THAT would happen? Surely, everyone who knows less about particle physics than those working on the LHC projects had proof positive that the world would end as soon as they flipped the switch! Thank the Lord that that flake Stephen Hawking was correct for a change……..

/end sarcasm

20. HiTrek Redneck - September 10, 2008

I figure if the world ended as we know it, we wouldn’t be around to care anyway. So business as usual is my pound of cure for an ounce of worry…

21. Spectre_7 - September 10, 2008

Frakking Nay-sayers would rather hold back our full potential like 22nd century Vulcans and keep us out of space!

Go science!

Let’s get that warp core up and running already

22. Lyle - September 10, 2008

A little-known quote from the scientist in charge of the LHC project:

“They used to say if man could fly, he’d have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn’t reached the moon, or that we won’t go on to Mars, and then to the nearest star someday? That’s like saying that you wished you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut like your great great great great grandfather used to. I’m in command. I could order this. But I’m not because those internet bloggers right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any project as fantastically advanced as this. But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great. Risk… Risk is our business. That’s what this LHC is all about. That’s why we’re working on it!”

23. Ryan Thomas Riddle - September 10, 2008

This is awesome cool. It’s great that trekmovie covers the science in science fiction.

24. Trekkie16 - September 10, 2008

Don’t worry, if it starts to melt down just call on Scotty or Geordi or Torres. If they can handle a warp core breach, I am sure an LHC blackhole would be an easy fix.

25. The Gorn Identity - September 10, 2008

Dammit! Means I still have to go to work tomorrow….

26. MrLerpa - September 10, 2008

I just worry about the source of those self-sealing stem bolts that they’ve used all over the place!!!

I hear it was some short guy with big ears and a foreign accent …

27. Izbot - September 10, 2008

The Hadron Collider’s gonna destroy the earth??

Yeah and Cher’s gonna be Catwoman in the next Batman movie…

28. the king in shreds and tatters - September 10, 2008

The first high-energy collisions aren’t scheduled until October…

29. John N - September 10, 2008

I went to university for genetic engineering. One of the electives I took was ethics. This course disn’t discuss whether science COULD accomplish certain goals, but whether science SHOULD accomplish certain goals.

Did anyone notice the word “elective” in there? I had to CHOOSE to take a course on ethics.

Far too many scientists today are obsessed with moving forward because we can, often with very little thought about how the outcome of their experiments could have a domino effect on the rest of the world.

Some of you may not be worried about this, but we as a species don’t have a very good track record of living in harmony with the universe. Maybe you should pause and give things another thought.

30. Christopher L. Bennett - September 10, 2008

3: “Um they are willing to risk 6 Billion lives on a Million to one odds? So what happens when the fire this thing for the 999,999 time?”

I don’t know where that quote came from, but it sounds like it comes from some gambling site or something. It’s certainly not coming from any scientists, not unless they’re making a joke. The odds of something catastrophic happening are actually zero. The LHC isn’t doing anything that doesn’t happen in cosmic-ray collisions at the top of Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis, and elsewhere in the universe millions of times per day. If there were any nonzero chance of this destroying the planet, then planets and stars wouldn’t be able to exist in the universe. But they do, therefore the chances are zero. Indeed, the LHC isn’t even capable of generating as much energy as those cosmic-ray collisions. It’s just more controlled and accessible.

31. marv - September 10, 2008

ha. This time next year:

Where’s Geneva?

Answer: Orbiting somewhere beside the Moon.

32. DFG333 - September 10, 2008

Well it’s been turned on but it’s not working at it’s full power yet. If I read it right at the cern site, that will take another two months.

The LEP that was there before that was trying to make anti-matter could not make enough to fill half a teaspoon but the LHC is on a bigger scale and doing different experiments.

33. TrekkyStar - September 10, 2008

First: The population starts disappearing.
Second: Gravity goes to 2.47 G.
Third: Everyone begins to panic.
Fourth: Scientists blame the destruction of the Earth on the Xindi.

34. The Traveller - September 10, 2008

I think at the precise moment that beam flashed on the screen (see video), our universe ceased to exist and we are now in a Mirror-Verse Alternate, ala Star Trek “Mirror Mirror”.

Check yourself for a mustache, and if you are now bent on world subjugation and domination, you’ll know why :)

35. The Traveller - September 10, 2008

#22 Lyle: well said!!! :)

36. CmdrR - September 10, 2008

This always happens. I buy a Medium Hadron Collider for 7 billion dollars and it’s not two months later they come out with a 9 billion dollar LARGE Hadron Collider. I just can’t win.

37. 750 Mang - September 10, 2008

“Impressive. They can make a planet.”

38. John from Cincinnati - September 10, 2008

33. I hope the women have beards.

39. Victor Hugo Carballo - September 10, 2008

It appears the entire planet was phased to the Mirror Universe. :P

40. COMMANDER KEEN - September 10, 2008

#24 Trekkie16:

You forgot about Chief O’Brien! ;)

If you look at some of the machinery and just imagine it from high above the ground it almost resembles a big Dabo machine. Just need more Dabo girls and Quark!

41. Derf - September 10, 2008

Damn :(

42. Caitlin - September 10, 2008

That is the best headline ever, I laughed so hard when I read that. And guys, it isn’t going to kill us. I for one can’t wait until they start gathering data!

43. Irishtrekkie - September 10, 2008

hahahahah that site is brilliant , look at the source code for it lol

if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == “undefined”)) {
} else {

And the LHC is pimp , i know the Physicists here in dublin are going to be getting alot of the data , from the grid they set up at cern
sure the grid the set up here for the LHC data in Ireland at Trinity College
contains 768 processors and over 130 terabytes of hard disk space.
I know some of the people working on it , i thought wow thats alot of space till i heard LHC is expected to produce 10-15 petabytes of data each year thats is just impressive.

44. Paulaner - September 10, 2008

CERN scientists rule. Keep pushing science forward, guys. Knowledge is everything.

45. Spockanella - September 10, 2008

Someone scientific…just about anyone would be more scientific than I…please tell me just what would theoretically happen if a black hole or holes WAS created? Not that I think that’s going to happen, but still….

46. Irishtrekkie - September 10, 2008

Yes you have to love Cern they gave us the World Wide Web ,
and everything the build is just cool

Watch the Large Hadron Rap ( with people who work at CERN)
and its (scientifically accurate)

47. Daniel Broadway - September 10, 2008

Yeah, today they just shot a beam in one direction through it. They haven’t done any colliding yet. Those high energy tests will take place on October 21st. So, if anything was going to happen, it would be October 21, (or four years later when the black hole got big enough to notice).

Let’s hope they know what they are doing.

48. Izbot - September 10, 2008

47. Daniel Broadway –
“Let’s hope they know what they are doing.”

Don’t touch that! It’s the history eraser button, you fool!!

49. Daoud - September 10, 2008

Hmmmm, we finally have a retcon reason to have a saucer-shaped ship. The outer ring of the saucer could contain a circular beam path to generate some antimatter… or other ‘ignition’ particle that would be used in the engines. Just a thought.

Seriously, don’t worry about mini-black holes though. In the presence of more massive object (the Earth), they quickly dissipate due to Hawking radiation. Their lifetimes are likely on the order of 1*10^-20 seconds. Or maybe that was one to the tenth power… ;)

50. Drew M - September 10, 2008

45: I’m not a scientist or anything, but I have been keeping up with what’s going on with the LHC. But if a Micro Black Hole were created they would fizzle out as soon as they were created.

51. capt Mike From the Terran Empire - September 10, 2008

Ok. I was hopeing it would work and I could get back to the real Earth. The Terran Empire is the real Earth and not this Puney Excuse for a planet you Humans Call Earth. But don’t worry. We are not done yet. Long Live the Empire!!!!!!!

52. Drew M - September 10, 2008

Also, they said the first collisions won’t be for a few months, and when it does it’ll be generating the Trillion Electron Volts as the Tevatron in Illinois. And the LHC won’t be breaking an TeV records until late next year.

53. Antni - September 10, 2008

9: “remember, leading sceptical physicists say it would take ‘four years’ for the micro-black holes to be noticable”

16: “The microscopic black holes won’t accumulate into one big one until December 21, 2012.”

is it just me or according to the mayan calander isnt 2012 – 4 years time the year the world ends?

54. Drew M - September 10, 2008

53: The whole Mayan 2012 thing is a load of crap. Their calendar does not end in 2012. There are dates marked well beyond 2012. One such date on there is October 21 4772, which marks the eightieth calendar round anniversary of Pacal of Palenque.

55. Irishtrekkie - September 10, 2008


Man does Mayan’s really planed far ahead did’nt they,

56. M33 - September 10, 2008

Hey, did you guys already have the opposite outcome headline ready, just in case, kinda like “Gore Wins” and “Bush Wins”? Something along the lines of:

“Large Hadron Collider Initialized – We’re All Screwed”

Just wondering…

57. M33 - September 10, 2008

Boy, that lady scientist is Hot!

58. M33 - September 10, 2008

Apologies… adolescent regression.

59. Colonel West - September 10, 2008

@ 43:

we’ve (ireland) had no input into the LHC at all bar the odd person giving up they’re bandwidth to create an uber internet (ubernet?) that was used for pre testing and to collect data. Its being funded by several european countries of which we’re not one of them. 130 tb and 768 processors is absolutely nothing, where I work has that in one server, bar of course the 768 processors which is pointless as beyond a certain point your processing speed cant do any better no matter how many you’ve got as its dependent on basically everything else.

On a slightly less(more?) trivial note, we’re all still alive until october 20th this year at least when it begins to speed up.

Now as Troy McClure might say: the british guy in charge of their end is a certain Dr. Brian Cox, you might remember him from the classic early 90s band d:ream where he was the keyboard player, creator of the fairly ironic, given the goings on now with his new career, tune:

“things can only get better”

:D :D :D

60. Magic_Al - September 10, 2008

How do we know turning this thing on didn’t put us into an alternate universe? What of Lazarus?

61. Victor Hugo Carballo - September 10, 2008

Oh they are CERN, scientists, for a moment i read NERV scientists! :/

62. Dr. Image - September 10, 2008

#5 Dennis-
Amen, bro. (And anything served at Mickey D’s, too.)
And for the next year, I’ll be doing all that stuff I’ve put off!

63. JR - September 10, 2008

We’re doomed!

64. Buckaroohawk - September 10, 2008

Lyle (#22),

Thanks for posting that (slightly altered) quote, one of the best ever from Trek.

Personally, I’m sick and tired of the howling cowards always fearing that the next scientific advancement will bring about our end. If you want to sit there with your head in the sand, essentially living in a self-imposed dark age, then please do so and let the rest of get on with the miraculous business of discovery.

On the other hand, if the world is destroyed when they finally get that sub-atomic racetrack up to speed, then at least the nattering voices of all those fear-mongers and nay-sayers will finally be stilled…

That’s a joke, people. Lighten up, will ya.

Helm: “Heading, sir?”
Kirk: “Second star to the right, then straight on ’til morning.”

65. Kayla Iacovino - September 10, 2008

@49. Daoud: Saucer shaped, ships, eh? That is a stroke of Sci-Fi genius right there! I love it!

66. Captain Dunsel - September 10, 2008

That’s the second biggest Hadron Collider I’ve ever seen!

67. P Technobabble - September 10, 2008

I am fairly convinced there is something in human beings (or at least some faction of them) that really gets off on doom and gloom. Perhaps its that death wish thing Freud wrote about… Plus, doom and gloom can be somewhat profitable. For example, there are a bunch of books out now about 2012, just like there were a bunch of books out about Y2K, or the Pope’s secret letter, and so on. End-of-the-world-stuff is entertaining, like the movies “The Day After Tomorrow,” or “Deep Impact.” So, when we have things like this LHC event, it’s not just some experiment… it’s something that could destroy the freakin’ world. I think you can thank the news for most of the hype – after all, that’s why they’re in business. Yeh, we could get hit by huge asteriods, or meteors. We could get swallowed by a black hole. We could all get wiped out by a disease. We could get fried after some nitwit starts a nuclear war. There are all kinds of ways to die, and everything dies anyway. But to turn death and the annihilation of the world into something like a sporting event (which is pretty much how the news treats everything) is, IMO, a good indication of how twisted humanity really is. Here, in this rather nonsensical 21st century, you might easily see something like: “Tune in to Channel 12 news for live coverage of the comet impact with the earth! Only Channel 12 brings you complete, up-to-the-last-minute coverage!”

68. Lyle - September 10, 2008

#35, #64 – Thanks, it’s one of my favorite quotes from Trek also. In fact, after posting that, Ihad to sit down tonight and watch “Retun to Tomorrow” again… I do kinda wish Sargon and Thalassa had given the crew a few tidbits of knowledge for their trouble and all before heading off to oblivion… ah well.

69. warptrek - September 10, 2008

What I find so funny is the ‘doom and gloom’ crowd out there who thinks the LHC could produce a black hole and swallow the Earth. That is just too funny. Even 6th graders know it would take a black hole with quite a few solar masses to do that and it t’aint gonna happen with this man made machine. Even if it could produce a black hole THAT WOULD BE A GOOD THING. Imagine the possibilities… limitless energy, complete destruction of toxic and dangerous substances, a STARDRIVE. I think the idiots that predicted the end are on the same wavelength mentally as conspiracy theory nut jobs.

70. Papa Jim - September 10, 2008

The Sky is falling! The Sky is falling!

71. helenofpeel - September 10, 2008

We wouldn’t know if the earth ended or not because the LHC generated a warp bubble! ;)

72. Victor Hugo - September 11, 2008

I hear Dr.Otto Otavius is involved. :)

73. Grand Lunar - September 11, 2008


No, you’re not the only one.

I figured the thing wouldn’t blow up Earth (or whatever people claim it was supposed to do).

Bunch of media hype; much ado over nothing.


74. 24th Century Rockstar - September 11, 2008

# 67. Bwahahahaha!!!! Yes! The only “Deep Impact” I’m worried about is trying on some sexy underwear with one of her girlfriends in the next room! (“…one or BOTH!” – Riker) XD

I’m reminded of Q’s line from Q Who:

“If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ‘ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s WONDROUS, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross,

but it’s not for the timid.”

GOD I love that line!

So yeah, let’s hear it for the end of the world – and while we’re at it – I’VE got a comet Channel 12 can sensationalize!

(it’s in my pants)


75. Crusade2267 - September 11, 2008

The hype behind all this “Science or DOOM” Reminds me of that Invader Zim Cartoon where Professor Membrane creates a Perpetual Energy Generator, and Zim tries to blow up the world with it.

Glad there are no little green aliens in Switzerland.

76. Val Jean - September 11, 2008

As long as all this smashing brings about some kick ass matter-antimatter reactors / warp cores im all for it!
what do YOU think?

77. steve - September 11, 2008

We wouldn’t know if the earth ended or not because the LHC generated a warp bubble! ;)

Computer: “The Universe is an object 700 meters by 700 meters. Wesley Crusher is not aboard the Universe.”

78. The Moseph - September 11, 2008

Perhaps I’m incorrect, but isn’t it the atom smashing part that had people so worried about black holes being created or some other end to existence?

Who cares. I’m up for the mirror universe idea, though…

79. technoshaman - September 11, 2008

The Hopi (people of peace) have a name for these egg-heads. It is bahanna. It means “two hearts”. I refer you to the Hopi Prophecy Rock. I do not want black holes and strange near my beautiful earth mother. 1 love. technoshaman.

80. Ryan Spooner - September 11, 2008

Everyone who feared the world ending on Wednesday was truly clueless. There was never any chance of anything like that happening on Wednesday since they are haven’t moved onto the collision stage yet.

The perceived danger is from the massive energy released when they fire two streams of protons into each other. That didn’t happen on Wednesday. All they did on Wednesday was fire a single stream around the circle, there was no colliding involved. What was done is simple particle acceleration, which is done hundreds of times in various particle accelerators around the world each day/week/month.

The possible danger will come in a few months time when they are actually ready to fire two streams of protons at each other to form a collision. That is also when they will be collecting their data and is the main focus of the experiment.

81. me - September 12, 2008

These guys who think the world would be destroyed and science should be stoped are exactly these guys who said you would fall into nothing when u travel to far on the big oceans, in a time they still thought the world were flat.

Hawking said micro-black-holes would collapse instantly after they have been created. I personally believe him and all the CERN people, because they seem to be a lot cleverer than I am, know a lot more about physics.

And even if there would be a stable micro-black-hole of the size of an electron, it would take millions of years to anhilate earth.

82. rehabilitated hitch1969© - September 12, 2008

Best. Story. Title. Ever.

” – earth not incinerated”

man that was funny!!

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