Is here on earth:
The L.H.C., which operates under the auspices of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym, cern, is an almost unimaginably long-term project. It was conceived a quarter-century ago, was given the green light in 1994, and has been under construction for the last 13 years, the product of tens of millions of man-hours. It’s also gargantuan: a circular tunnel 17 miles around, punctuated by shopping-mall-size subterranean caverns and fitted out with more than $9 billion worth of steel and pipe and cable more reminiscent of Jules Verne than Steve Jobs.
The believe-it-or-not superlatives are so extreme and Tom Swiftian they make you smile. The L.H.C. is not merely the world’s largest particle accelerator but the largest machine ever built. At the center of just one of the four main experimental stations installed around its circumference, and not even the biggest of the four, is a magnet that generates a magnetic field 100,000 times as strong as Earth’s. And because the super-conducting, super-colliding guts of the collider must be cooled by 120 tons of liquid helium, inside the machine it’s one degree colder than outer space, thus making the L.H.C. the coldest place in the universe.
If all has gone according to plan, the physicists at cern by late November will have flipped a switch, and proton beams in each of two pipes will have started shooting around the ring, one beam clockwise and the other counterclockwise, at an energy level of 3.5 trillion electron volts, several times that of the current most-powerful-particle-accelerator-ever-built. And then, any day now, the L.H.C.’s proton streams will be forced to begin colliding head on, at a combined energy of seven trillion electron volts, producing up to 800 million collisions per second.
I did not understand till now. Aye carumba.
Bioethics is controversial.
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