HAWKING: THE GOD PARTICLE FOUND
BY CERN COULD DESTROY THE UNIVERSE
Higgs boson in large hadron collider, computer generated abstract background
CERN is perhaps most famous for its discovery in 2012 of the elusive Higgs Boson [named after British physicist Peter Higgs who predicted its existence in 1964], the so-called ‘God particle,’ which allows other particles to build up mass as they pass through the Higgs field.
Today, however, CERN is more famous – or perhaps infamous is the better word – for an upcoming experiment in which scientists will play God in an effort to recreate the conditions immediately following the ‘Big Bang’ event that gave birth to THE UNIVERSE millions of years ago.
For those who are in the dark about CERN and the controversial objectives it hopes to achieve, here is a quick primer.
CERN is the world’s biggest machine
Straddling the French-Swiss border, the $9 billion CERN collider complex is buried at a depth of up to 575 feet (175 meters). The tunnel complex runs along a 17-mile (27-kilometer) circuit. Scientists involved in the project say the laboratory was built underground because the Earth’s crust provides protection against radiation. They also say it was buried out of respect for the natural landscape, which sounds slightly ironic considering the massive damage the collider could possibly cause down the road.
Massive gravitational pull
The CERN collider is composed of some 9,600 super magnets – which are 100,000 times more powerful than the gravitational pull of Earth – that fire protons around a circular track at mindboggling speeds. A beam might rotate for up to 10 hours, travelling a distance of more than 10 billion kilometers, enough to make it to the far reaches of our SOLAR SYSTEM and back again. Travelling just below light-speed, a proton in the LHC will make 11,245 circuits every second.
No less amazing are the magnet’s coils, which are made up of 36 twisted 15mm strands, each strand comprised in turn of 6000-9000 single filaments, each filament possessing a diameter as small as 7 micrometers. The 27km length of the LHC demands some 7,600 km (4,100 miles) of cable, which amounts to about 270,000 km (145,000 miles) of strand — more than enough to circle the Earth six times at the Equator. ACCORDING to the CERN website, if the filaments were unraveled, they would "stretch to the Sun and back five times with enough left over for a few trips to the Moon."
CERN generates extreme temperatures
There may be another reason for the CERN super collider being buried hundreds of feet underground: The unbelievable hot temperatures it can reach. How hot you ask? Well, about as hot as conditions in THE UNIVERSE after the Big Bang, or more than 100,000-times the temperature at the center of the Sun. This will be achieved, CERN says, by accelerating and colliding together two beams of heavy ions, an epic scientific event that will take place next month.
But Stephen Hawking is worried
Although it may require some mental gymnastics to wrap one’s brain around exactly what the CERN scientists are attempting to achieve in their underground lab, the average layman may instinctively understand that such an experiment may be wrought with unforeseeable pitfalls. Stephen Hawking, the eminent physicist, seems to agree.
"The God particle found by CERN could destroy THE UNIVERSE," Hawking wrote in the preface to a book, Starmus, a collection of lectures by scientists. The Higgs Boson could become unstable at very high energy levels and have the potential to trigger a "catastrophic vacuum decay which would cause space and time to collapse and… we would not have any warning to the dangers," he continued.
Hawking is not the only voice in the scientific wilderness predicting possible catastrophe if CERN continues in the atomic fast lane. Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson told Eugene Mirman on his Star Talk radio program that the experiment could literally cause the planet to "explode."
This all might sound pretty cool, but the threat of an exploding planet is something that people might want to take seriously. If CERN is willing to put all of mankind at risk for the sake of an experiment, we might want to let them open one of those doors to another dimension they keep talking about and shove them inside.
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