It’s Friday evening, time once again for the “refresh game”, where I sit on the CERN website waiting to find out what terrorism/food/drink crisis will befall the Large Hadron Collider next (TGB’s Daniel Cressey is putting his money on a badger from the future quantum mechanically tunneling his way into the beamline).
At the moment, though, it’s all looking pretty good! Commissioning of the machine should be completed any minute now, and the physicists and engineers in charge of the LHC could begin injecting beams of protons into the machine tonight. Optimistically, we could be about a week or two away from collisions.
Well, unless the United Nations intervenes. A cleverly-named group of LHC critics called conCERNed (get it? Because the LHC is at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is shortened to CERN in French? And CERN is right there in the word? Oh never mind), have filed a complaint with the UN’s Human Rights Committee warning that the LHC might destroy the world. If true that would, it seem, infringe on a human right or two.
conCERNed would like to see the formation of an agency similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to regulate particle accelerators. But I wouldn’t necessarily expect this to stop collisions in the coming weeks. Given what I’ve seen of IAEA diplomacy, even if the UN decides to form such an agency, it will take most of the LHC’s first physics run just to draw up an agenda for its inaugural meeting.
Stay tuned for more updates next week!