Scientists at CERN, the European nuclear research institute in Geneva, fired up the Large Hadron Collider at 4:27 a.m. EDST. For the record, the world did not end then, as some Luddites feared. That could still happen several weeks from now when a beam of subatomic particles coursing one way through the collider smashes into another beam moving just as fast in the opposite direction. How fast? Almost the speed of light. If the Big Bang is reprised then, and all of us are sucked into a new black hole in the universe (maybe it’s like the one where truth vanishes during Presidential elections), there won’t be time to dance in the street. Better do it now.
The LHC is the world’s largest and most expensive scientific instrument, and may be the most hyped experiment yet to yield results. (See today’s coverage by NYT and NPR.) Call me a nerd who can’t keep a beat, but what impressed me most was the Large Hadron Rap, a music video created by Kate McAlpine, a young science writer at CERN. She discusses the project on PRI’s The World. As of today, the video has been viewed more than 2 million times onYouTube. Few of the scientists I work with would agree to take a chance on explaining their research in such an daring way.