CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) outside Geneva, Switzerland is the most complicated and expensive scientific experiment ever, with the fromidible goal of validating the existence of the Higgs boson and explaining the ultimate nature of matter.
Just to build the apparatus is costing upwards of a $5 billion. Planning started 20 years ago, the first applied research began 15 years ago, and more than a thousand engineers, technicians and scientists have already been working on this project for at least a decade.
The LHC is buried 80 to 100 metres deep as an oval tunnel 27 kilometres in circumference beneath the Swiss and French countryside outside Geneva, enclosing an area big enough to squeeze in Bermuda, Monaco and four Vatican Cities. This summer, if all goes according to plan, packets of high-energy protons will be accelerated in opposite directions around the 27 km tunnel, attaining velocities almost to the speed of light, and collided into each other at four separate locations.
The Higgs boson, named after British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs who first proposed its existence is the last missing piece of an unsolved puzzle of the "Standard Model" – the 20 fundamental forces and particles that, in various permutations and combinations, account for everything around us – light, magnetism, gravity and all matter.
Experiments at the collider are also intended to provide the ultimate test of Albert Einstein’s famous formula, E=mc2; to yield a long shot at identifying the mysterious dark matter that supposedly permeates the cosmos; to take a stab at recreating the quark-gluon goo or gas that existed for an instant at the Big Bang; and to confirm supersymmetry. Also known as SUSY, supersymmetry is an arcane concept of paired elementary particles that lies at the heart of the theory that all the forces of nature are interconnected – the ‘theory of everything’ pursued by Albert Einstein for the latter third of his life. Posted by Casey Kazan.