Considered one of the world's largest physics experiments to date, the is a gigantic particle accelerator located in a nearly 17-mile-long circular tunnel along the French-Swiss border about 330 feet underground. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as .
In experiments , the LHC will accelerate two beams of subatomic particles--called hadrons--in opposite directions to more than 99.9 percent the speed of light. Smashing the beams together will create showers of new particles for physicists to study using special detectors.
The result is likely to push forward theories of particle physics and the fundamental building blocks of all things. The LHC was designed primarily as an attempt to produce the "Higgs boson," a hypothetical particle whose observation would help confirm some of the predictions in the Standard Model of physics.
Other currently theoretical particles may also be observed for the first time, including microscopic black holes. Some have theorized that the black hole experiments could go wrong , but CERN has done extensive safety analysis and has repeatedly denied any such threat.
This photo taken in 2007 shows the LHC's CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) detector, in all its kaleidoscopic beauty.
August 13, 2008 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: Maximilien Brice for CERN
| Caption by: Michelle Meyers
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