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Collider start-up gives nerds large hardon

The CMS, seen through a fish-eye lens.

Over-enthusiastic pundits are hoping the new machine will bend the fabric of time and space

photograph: CERN

Scientists at CERN have flicked the switch allowing protons around the ring of the Large Hadron Collider for the first time, resulting in the largest concentration of arts-graduate journo-bullshit in human history. And not the end of the World.

The LHC, housed underneath most of central Europe, managed to guide protons around its entire circumference, to the delight of engineers glad that they hadn’t accidentally got the plans upside-down half-way through the assembly process.

‘It was a big job,’ explained engineer Roger Bighouse, ‘so I made sure the boys were extra-careful. Obviously I’m glad the test went well, but you can trust my lads to build something black-hole-proof! Except orphanages, for some reason, but we don’t like to talk about that incident.’

The LHC is the largest physics experiment ever built: if you walked around it 100 times, it would be the equivalent of walking 2700 km—almost a hundredth of the way to the Moon! There are more statistics about the LHC than the Empire State building and London buses put together.

The collider will feed several different detectors: ATLAS and CMS, searching for the elusive Higgs boson, LHCb, looking for antimatter, ALICE, which will try to answer some of the big questions in the Universe, like ‘why did this experiment cost eight billion?’, and EVIL, a device looking for dastardly physics which might destroy the Earth.

‘Micro black holes, strangelets, we’re into the lot,’ cackled mad scientist Francis T. Bargle, ‘Today was just a test. I mean, we can hardly consign the World to oblivion for want of a misplaced nut, can we?!

‘Anyway,’ he added, ‘We were never going to kill everyone just yet. It will be several months before we can do that, and some of the EVIL post-docs have suggested that we avoid destroying the Universe until a suitably ironic date comes along.’


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