Topic: Large Hadron Collider
LHC is a particle accelerator that will smash together opposing beams of protons to explore the validity and limitations of current particle physics theory. (Image gallery)
"The collider is to be inaugurated on October 21," said Alexander Vodopyanov, of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna). "This means at least one test-run of proton beams around the accelerator ring will be conducted prior to inauguration."
The scientist said all eight sections of the collider's large ring had been cooled to temperatures approaching absolute zero. An experimental run of a proton beam through one of the sectors could be carried out as early as this week.
The $5.8 billion international project at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials CERN, involves more than 2,000 physicists from hundreds of universities and laboratories in 34 countries.
The accelerator complex, 27 kilometers in circumference, sits in a subterranean tunnel about one hundred meters below the Franco-Swiss border, near Geneva, Switzerland.
Once it is up to speed, it is hoped the collider will produce the so-called Higgs boson, the observation of which could confirm the predictions and "missing links" in the Standard Model of physics and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass.
Some theorists and members of the general public have long voiced fears that microscopic black holes may appear as a result of the experiment, capturing surrounding matter and ultimately leading to the destruction of the entire planet.
However, scientists have consistently dismissed these allegations as "ridiculous" - even if a microscopic black hole did form, they say, it would only last for a fraction of a second.
LHC scientists said in a special "safety" report that collisions of subatomic particles similar to those simulated on the collider constantly occur in nature. Research data indicates that collision of cosmic ray particles generate much more energy than the LHC.
"Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," Lyn Evans, the head of the project at CERN, said in June.
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