Okay, so this isn’t something you would probably be looking to buy for home, unless your home is the size of a bloody great warehouse and you want a massive orange donut in the middle of it, but it’s exciting all the same. You’re looking at the newly assembled CMS particle detector at the CERN facility in Geneva, where scientists are busy constructing a Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to recreate – amongst other things – the Big Bang that kickstarted the universe.
The LHC is unique, according to Brian Cox of the University of Manchester, UK, because it represents the first time in many decades that a machine can exceed our own powers of prediction. Once activated in November 2007, the LHC will run for up to two decades, creating tiny black holes by smashing protons into each other at vast speeds.
“These beams will have the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier slammed into the size of a zero on a 20 pence piece” Brian Cox
As well as trying to recreate the birth of the universe as we know it (only in miniature), CERN scientists also hope to learn more about what it’s made of: Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which together make up 95%, but about which little is known. Further ambitious predictions include the discovery of dimensions beyond our own three.
Reassuringly, the possibility of the planet being destroyed by these baby black holes is, Cox reassures, at the level of 10 to the minus 40.