The Networks That Run the Hadron Supercollider

One of the most interesting bits of science and technology news to come along in awhile is the activation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Western Europe. For those of you who might have been distracted by financial or presidential election news these past few weeks, the LHC is a gargantuan device designed to accelerate various kinds of particles to nearly the speed of light and crash them into each other to gain more insight into the physics principles that govern the universe.

The project, which is being conducted by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), has 10,000-plus engineers and scientists working on it. If the LHC works the way the people who dreamed it up think it will, it should reveal a great deal more about some of the core elements of physics, such as the forces that hold the universe together, matter and antimatter, and dark matter and dark energy.

Some critics of the LHC, however, have warned that it could create tiny black holes that will expand until they consume the entire earth — and presumably much more.

Of course, whether to bring to light the mysteries of the universe or drown our world in darkness, the LHC actually has to work. The device was fired up in September, but was shut down just a couple of days later due to a defective connection between two of its magnets. It’s expected to get going again in the spring, but it will take several…



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