Following four years on standby, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was fired up again this week – and despite conspiracy theorists’ concerns, the world didn’t end.
For the uninitiated, the LHC is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, consisting of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.
As explained by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, aka CERN, two high-energy particle beams travel at close to the speed of light inside the accelerator before they are made to collide, and scientists are on hand to study the results.
While the LHC hasn’t been switched on since 2019, the most famous experiment led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, a type of sub-atomic particle that has been referred to as the ‘God Particle’.
The reason for this is that many claimed it to be the cause of the big bang, although most scientists aren’t too keen on that title as the reality is far more complex.
Regardless, this is where the conspiracy theorists had a field day – you see, the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012, the year everyone thought the world was going to end based on an ancient Mayan prophecy.
Although it didn’t, some people are convinced that we entered some sort of parallel universe, one where Donald Trump became president and an egg made viral fame.
So did the world actually end in 2012? Well, it was the year scientists at CERN finally found the Higgs Boson, you know, the particle Stephen Hawking predicted could destroy the universe, or in his own words, cause the universe to “undergo a catastrophic vacuum decay.” pic.twitter.com/YuBaNrdXyW— Nick Hinton (@NickHintonn) July 25, 2019
Well, what would happen if we destroyed the universe? Would we know? Maybe CERN accidentally created a black hole that sucked us in without us even noticing, and we’ve just been living in it. Some physicists actually believe this is possible. pic.twitter.com/haIAPDNQvX— Nick Hinton (@NickHintonn) July 25, 2019
As said by one Twitter user: “What would happen if we destroyed the universe? Would we know? Maybe CERN accidentally created a black hole that sucked us in without us even noticing, and we’ve just been living in it.”
While the science-minded out there might be cringing at this suggestion, many people back it to this day, so much so that when news broke that the LHC was firing up again, there were warnings that our world could enter yet another ‘parallel universe’.
That includes one TikToker who told her followers to ‘not drink’ and ‘keep your good vibrations high’ during July 4 and 5, her belief being that ‘positive energy’ would determine what kind of world we’d be living in for the next several years.
But rest assured that scientists definitely do not back this theory, and as is often the case the reality is far less disastrous.
In fact, since the LHC was switched on yesterday, 5 July, rather than destroying the planet, researchers instead discovered three never-before-seen combinations of quarks – a type of elementary particle and the most basic known constituent of matter.
According to Science Alert, these new quarks are consistent with the Standard Model of particle physics, the theory describing three of the four known fundamental forces in the universe.
But scientists are hoping that through the LHC, they are able to generate evidence of physics that goes beyond this model to help explain unknown phenomena such as dark matter.
As said by CERN director-general Fabiola Gianotti: "The Higgs boson is related to some of the most profound open questions in fundamental physics today.
“This [latest use of the LHC] is a significant increase, paving the way for new discoveries.”
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