Particle smashing

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) goes live at Cern this week! A hundred metres below France and Switzerland it will be smashing particles together at high energy levels using a 27km ring of superconducting magnets kept at -271C.  Particle energies will be up to 7TeV, for a head-on collision of 14TeV.  This is a hefty energy level so they should see interesting things.

For those worried the LHC will destroy the world by creating stranglets or micro black holes, Cern has put together an LHC safety page.  In a nutshell, it's almost certainly not going to kill us all.  Similar questions were asked about the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in Brookhaven New York, which has been smashing gold ions together.  In terms of pure particle energy, RHIC has been knocked off the top slot by the LHC, but it can still do some things LHC cannot.

The full beam switch on for the LHC is set for Wednesday, with the first collisions later this year...

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