It’s CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and it’s going to nibble our bums — to infinity!
In just a couple days, CERN is going to turn on its nifty new gadget — the world’s most bitchin’ particle accelerator, which is kind of like a really powerful toy train, except instead of a toy train, the LHC sends two tiny particles of matter hurtling along the track at nearly the speed of light. Yes, it is the ultimate demolition derby! With any luck it will reveal what all that dark matter nonsense is about, give us more information about the origins of the universe, explain why we don’t have any antimatter to power our warp drives, complete Newton’s unfinished work (on mass, not alchemy), and with any luck, give the particle physicists enough to do for a while, so they can stop disturbing my sleep with nightmares about strange quarks and cats that may or may not be dead.
Then again, it could destroy the planet.
I wouldn’t count on that though. There is a really slight chance that the LHC could produce micro-black holes (but they should evaporate almost immediately). If they don’t they’ll eat us alive.
The LHC could also tip us in to a vacuum bubble. This is not what happens when you try to suck up gum with your Hoover. This is an hypothetical state (ironically, more “stable” in terms of physics) in which the Earth would cease to exist. IN layman’s terms, this would be bad.
So too would magnetic monopoles — I won’t even try to pretend what the hell they are — and strange matter. Strange matter is the stuff that is found in your mouth after an evening of drinking peyote and avocado milkshakes. Nasty, yes, but is it enough to cause the end of the universe? CERN thinks no. Personally, I’m hoping a few globs of it land in my brain and give me superpowers. (Particle telekinesis and omniscience would be my choice, but I’d be happy with the ability to read minds or turn all easy listening music into psychotropic mushrooms.)
You may want to read about why humans are fascinated with the end of the world in this BBC story, but I prefer the outline from CERN. The “safety” questions are particularly entertaining.
Now, if all of this wasn’t frightening enough, there is also the Carnival of the Insanities to visit, and more weird quark-filled strangeness at humor-blogs.com and alltop. Thanks to julkastro for the end of the world shot.
Sincerely submitted, Dr. Tundra.