Large and in Charge

Physics & Math / by Greg Boustead /

Particles are accelerated to unprecedented speeds at CERN's Large Hadron Collider with ultimate hopes of uncovering the universe's darkest secrets.

Today is Beam Day. At 10:28 Central European Time, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider shot subatomic particles the entire length of its 17-mile looping tunnel deep beneath the Franco-Swiss border for the first time. Although neither the theoretical “God particle” nor a planet-eating black hole was produced, today marks successful early stages of what is ostensibly the world’s largest science experiment.

Procedural in practice, today’s lap around the track nevertheless holds huge implications for future illumination of everything from the origin of the universe to the production of dark matter. Eventually, CERN scientists hope to confirm — or potentially invalidate — fundamental assumptions about the physical world. By smashing tiny bits of matter together from opposite sides of this massive complex, they expect to glean a bounty of data from the resulting debris. Of particular interest is the potential observation of the sensationally termed “God particle,” more accurately referred to as the Higgs boson: a hypothetical elementary particle predicted to exist by modern physics that could help explain how matter was created.

For perspective on this historical day, we look back at Seed’s coverage of the Large Hadron Collider in the run-up to its activation.

Audio Slideshow: The Large Hadron Collider and CERN
Explore the cavernous site while listening to firsthand insight from theorist Luis Alvarez-Gaume and experimentalist Ulrich Fuchs.

Discovery for the Sake of Discovery
From the new particle accelerator at CERN may emerge answers to the most fundamental questions of the universe.

Why a Large Hadron Collider?
Seed asks some of the greatest physicists alive what we hope to learn from the LHC.

CERN by the Numbers
How big is this Large Hadron Collider, really?

Why the US Should Spring for a New Particle Accelerator
The US must develop a compelling bid to host the International Linear Collider in order to safeguard American science.

Originally published September 10, 2008

Tags engineering innovation lhc scale

Share this Stumbleupon Reddit Email + More


  • Ideas

    I Tried Almost Everything Else

    John Rinn, snowboarder, skateboarder, and “genomic origamist,” on why we should dumpster-dive in our genomes and the inspiration of a middle-distance runner.

  • Ideas

    Going, Going, Gone

    The second most common element in the universe is increasingly rare on Earth—except, for now, in America.

  • Ideas

    Earth-like Planets Aren’t Rare

    Renowned planetary scientist James Kasting on the odds of finding another Earth-like planet and the power of science fiction.

The Seed Salon

Video: conversations with leading scientists and thinkers on fundamental issues and ideas at the edge of science and culture.

Are We Beyond the Two Cultures?

Video: Seed revisits the questions C.P. Snow raised about science and the humanities 50 years by asking six great thinkers, Where are we now?

Saved by Science

Audio slideshow: Justine Cooper's large-format photographs of the collections behind the walls of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Universe in 2009

In 2009, we are celebrating curiosity and creativity with a dynamic look at the very best ideas that give us reason for optimism.

Revolutionary Minds
The Interpreters

In this installment of Revolutionary Minds, five people who use the new tools of science to educate, illuminate, and engage.

The Seed Design Series

Leading scientists, designers, and architects on ideas like the personal genome, brain visualization, generative architecture, and collective design.

The Seed State of Science

Seed examines the radical changes within science itself by assessing the evolving role of scientists and the shifting dimensions of scientific practice.

A Place for Science

On the trail of the haunts, homes, and posts of knowledge, from the laboratory to the field.


Witness the science. Stunning photographic portfolios from the pages of Seed magazine.

SEEDMAGAZINE.COM by Seed Media Group. ©2005-2015 Seed Media Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sites by Seed Media Group: Seed Media Group | ScienceBlogs | Research Blogging | SEEDMAGAZINE.COM