The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will smash up its its first proton beams this weekend in a test, arousing the fears of conspiracy lovers everywhere. If you'll recall, the LHC is that super-mega physics experiment in Switzerland's CERN Lab that some believe might destroy the world by producing black holes. Above, you can see a visualization of how large the facility is, as it loops under the ground outside Geneva. So what's in store tomorrow when the first beams start circling? Physicists working on the LHC say that even if the device does produce tiny black holes, they will exist for such a short time that they couldn't possibly do any damage. Instead, they're interested in experiments that could reveal for the first time what dark matter is, and what the universe looked like after the big bang. Though the LHC won't be in full operation until September 10, when the first real experiments there will get underway, this weekend marks the first time the facility will be used. Researchers will shoot a few particle beams through the magnetized, reinforced tunnels that make up the giant particle accelerator. According to Popular Mechanics:
As part of a scheduled injection test, the LHC will be closed off this Friday, and researchers at CERN will fire protons through one of the eight sectors that make up the sprawling concrete-lined collider tunnel. The purpose of this test? "It's, ‘Let's see what happens,' " says Judy Jackson, head of the Office of Communications at Fermilab. "It's a very complex machine. This is a step towards getting ready."
Let's see what happens? You mean, like whether it produces tiny black holes that last longer than a nanosecond? Awesome. Start Date for the Large Hadron Collider [Popular Mechanics]