BY JOHN SHERIDAN
OK, so maybe you (normal) folks have been too distracted by Alaskan girls or the Major League of guys hitting balls with sticks to have heard of the Large Hadron Collider. It’s easy for subjects like this to be brushed aside or underestimated as “crazy science stuff,” because most of the world honestly doesn’t care what a particle accelerator is.
So here’s the short of it: it’s a 17-mile-long circular tube buried 100 meters underground near Geneva that smashes protons and lead ions together with unimaginable kinetic force. It’s more or less designed to replicate the conditions of the Big Bang.
The project was designed in 1996, completed in 2008, and on Sept. 10 it was activated. This is truly super-science, the stuff of science fiction, but sans the fiction. If it actually works in doing what it was created for, there are a number of ways that it could fundamentally change the way we understand the very fabric of our universe.
The fact is when you’re messing around with experimental science, you never know exactly what will happen.
The following are only a few things that scientists understand the LHC to be capable of, but these are the top five for the win in my opinion.
1. Time Travel.
Seriously. Because the LHC is experimenting with space and time on a scale never before used by humanity, this is when we start conceivably working towards time travel. Time travel starts with the first time machine, therefore some Russian mathematicians have calculated that now is when we could start seeing time travelers from the future. I’m holding my breath, John Connor.
2. Mini black holes.
There was a group of European scientists led by a Dr. Otto Rossler that submitted a formal complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, begging them not to turn on the LHC because as far as all calculations can predict, it could create a mini black hole that would increase in size exponentially and suck the world into oblivion within four years. The scientists at CERN did not deny the claims, because that is entirely possible. A four-year end-of-the-world party? Yeah, why not.
3. The Higgs-boson.
Science has never seen one of these, but theoretically they must exist, and if the experiments succeed in creating one of these, it would explain why any and all particles have mass. Sort of like answering the age-old “why is anything anything?” question.
4. The Multiverse.
If the experiments manage to produce another theoretical particle, called a gluino, this would explain that our universe is only one of many, according to string theory.
5. New dimensions to our Universe.
Another thing string theorists would get a rise out of is that the LHC experiments could ostensibly show that there are more than four dimensions to our reality.
This instrument could explain the Standard Model of particle physics that we’ve been using for decades. Or it might just tear the planet in half, who knows? That’s the best part, nobody knows. So we’ve got to grip this piece of technology by the shaft and ride it straight into the future. Or possibly the past.