Big Bang Day

September the 10th 2008 will see the largest experiment ever to be held anywhere in the world. If you haven’t heard of it, the gist of the Big Bang Day is that one of the largest nuclear laboratories in the world, CERN in Geneva (who in the past have given us little inventions such as the World Wide Web and those little silicone cameras you find in the back of your mobile) will be starting up their “LHC” or Large Hadron Collider (A big atom smashy thing to you and me)

This is basically a great big tunnel (17 miles around, forming a perfect circle) with 6,000 superconducting magnets in which they conduct two proton beams that travel at the speed of light around a big atom race track. They then make them collide with each other and see what will happen. The outside of the tunnel has massive electronic detectors (each as big as a church apparently) which collect all the information happening inside the tunnel and filter it down via the internet. This information goes to computers in labs, and even homes where a program designed by CERN years ago will take care of making sense of the data. You see, they work on the theory that the more computers involved the better, and people have signed up for the privilege years ago. Not that they get to see the data mind. Even if they could make sense of it.

Now, when I hear of atoms being collided into each other I tend to think of horrible things like nuclear bombs and essentially this will be producing around the same amount of energy. With the safety of this experiment being the absolute priority, CERN released a press statement a few days ago saying:

“The LHC safety review has shown that the LHC is perfectly safe,” said Jos Engelen, CERN’s Chief Scientific Officer, “it points out that Nature has already conduced the equivalent of about a hundred thousand LHC experimental programmes on Earth- and the planet still exists.”

So, if we all happen to die at 9:30ish on Wednesday morning, we’ll know what happened for a brief moment. If not, then this experiment could finally start to unlock all the secrets of what happened on that day when the Earth was born. Either way, I intend to spend those moments in my own style, hopefully asleep in bed!

However, the rest of the day will be spent listening to the special BBC Radio 4 programming that’s going on throughout the day, including a special radio episode of one of the Your Face favourites; Torchwood! Yipee!

I’ll give you all a review of that episode later on in the day, assuming we survive that long of course.

Mucho love,