back to article Today is not Hadron Collider Day

All the world's media is going bananas over "first beam" day at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world's most stupendous particle-punisher, which switched on this morning (following an initial hiccup which appeared to be fixed by the traditional expedient of turning it off then on again). Today, it is being strongly implied …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Media confusion.

    I was a bit confused when I picked up my copy of the metro on my way to work this morning as well.. I too was under the impression that today was just the day of making small things go in circles without actually making anything collide (on purpose anyway). Many thanks to El Reg for halting my 3 hour nagging disbelief that maybe they had decided 'the heck with it' and fired up both streams just to see what happened.

    May I offer my profound congratulations on your discovery of the theoretical oxymoron particle 'Journalistic Integrity'.

    Anon, because as previously stated, I am currently at work, and google indexes everything :o)

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Today is however

    world suicide day, so maybe they should turn that knob. Oh wait suicide *prevention* day. That's a mistake I won't make again, time to get my stomach pumped.

    coat -> hospital

  3. Pete Silver badge

    no news like bad news

    Maybe the reason the press (and meeja) is all over this project is that they absolutely revel in bad news: the worse, more spectacular, the better. Take for example the recent (well, a month or two ago) rise in oil prices. Seemingly every news broadcast told us how we were all heading for poverty and would freeze to death at the first sign of winter. Fast forward to now - the oil price is barely above $100/barrel and where's the coverage?

    Likewise with the LHC. Every news programme was at pains to tell us that the world wouldn't end - well, they were right (hooray! for journalistic integrity) but managed to portray the CERN experiments as if they would happen today, preferably just before tea-time. No doubt the journo's will pack their bags this evening after having had a very nice jolly in Switzerland for a few days and that'll be the last of it. Even though the world won't end tomorrow, either.

    No doubt when there actually IS some news: the culmination of many year's work and £Bns spent, it might just make the "and finally" section - unless of course it's bad news.

  4. Xander
    Thumb Up

    el Reg

    It is articles like this why I read el Reg over any other news source. When it comes to stuff other than stick thin people who other people insist on taking photos of you guys are one the few who actually know their stuff.

    Keep up the good work, lads (and lass) :)

  5. Jamie

    One quick question, please correct me if I am wrong.

    This device is suppose to contain something like 16,000,000 magnets making it the most powerful magnet in the world. This powerful magnet is underground around one of the biggest banking districts in the world. Unless something drastic has happened lately banks rely on computers for pretty well everything including when to use the bathroom. Computers and magnets do not go well together.

  6. daen
    Paris Hilton

    "The Big Knob"?

    No comment.

  7. Christoph

    If you are really worried

    You can keep an eye on whether we have been destroyed yet here:

  8. Gianni Straniero

    Apocalypse not now

    The Today programme was a particulalry egregious example of journalists not quite getting it. Even the sports correspondent was cracking wise: we won't have to worry about England's football performaces if Armegeddon is unleashed.

    A stream of finger-wagging emails arrived in the Today inbox, scolding them for not taking the end of the world seriously enough (which shows their listeners haven't been paying attention either). To his credit, John Humphrys pointed out that if the end was indeed nigh, nobody would be around to complain about their frivolous broadcasting.

    Quick (stupid) question for the Register's boffinish readership: if each beam is travelling "close to the speed of light", what's the closing speed of the two beams?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Boring television,

    That has got to have been the most boring tv show, no machines pinging, no terrorists holding the beards hostage unless they aim the hardon colliduh at murica, at the very least the head beard could have said 'oh no, that. shouldn't. be. doing. that... RUN!!!!' and laughed at the tv people scrambling for the exit

    hell even the the graphics looked like a pong machine

    at least 24 is back on soon

  10. Anonymous Coward

    What ever you do

    do not tell the loony fringe today wasn't the day they were dreading - as then they can carry on with life without the worry and the rest of us don't have to hear their panic caused by their limited understanding

    PH - but if today was really the last day I suspect there'd !be a queue there ;)

  11. Ash

    "Never let facts...

    ... get in the way of a good story."

    There's a good reason why i've not watched television in over 4 years.

    iPlayer is my friend; For everything else, there's

  12. Anonymous John

    this will happen "by the end of the year".

    Can't they be more specific? Is it worth buying Christmas presents, or not?

  13. jelly


    And I took today off to spend the last day of the world with the missus...

    Ah well at least it was a good day

    Roll on the Proton beams

  14. Stef
    Thumb Up

    unprecedentedly puissant particle cannons

    unprecedentedly puissant particle cannons


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everything I know about particle physics I learned in Marvel Comics

    Can any Reg-reading particle physicists who might be taking a break from releasing Lovecraftian horrors into this dimension answer this question honestly?

    'Do you ever get an overwhelming urge to stand in front of the beam in the hope of getting super powers?'

  16. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    Good to hear someone in the press has a clue

    Makes a change.

    Paris - because she probably knows more about this than most of the "arrrrg, the world's going to end" press.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    excellent as always

    I don't think I've read a Lewis Page article that hasn't made me laugh out loud.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radio 4's Big Bang Day

    Presumably they are going to have another day when the science actually starts, called the Big Knob Day.

    Plenty of those around in the media today though...

  19. Neil
    Thumb Up

    Thanks, Reg

    For promising to stay on the story.

    Maybe there will be cake.

  20. spegru

    Rely on the Reg!

    I had thought it just barely possible that it was only me that had noticed that today's hype was a little premature.

    I will be checking the Reg frequently for news on this, with interest and indeed a degree of concern - if of course the Reg (and all of us) is still here!


  21. Jeff Bennison
    Paris Hilton

    But look

    We have a cheaper alternative right here in the good 'ol United states of Kingdom.

    A mile below the earth and well away from any reporters is a similar device doing similar work. All beit on a smaller scale and working with "in the wild" particles.

    If you ever find yourself near this place, which is close to Whitby, then please try to organise a trip down the mine as it really is fasinating. It's hard to imagine you are so deep you can feel the heat from the earths core on the walls.

    Paris as she deffinately likes it deep.......I'll get me coat ;-)

  22. Rob

    It gets worse

    I heard they may turn "The Big Knob" up to 11!!

  23. oxo

    Cross the beams

    Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.

    Dr. Peter Venkman: What?

    Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.

    Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?

    Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.

    Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm a little fuzzy on the whole "good/bad" thing here. What do you mean, "bad"?

    Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

    Dr. Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Good work Lewis

    ... very useful information that I hadn't gleaned from any other source.

    So that explains why the world didn't end this morning. :-)

    I hope you will give us a few days warning before the BIG ONE.

    Will it help if I put a paper bag on my head?

    *Heart because Lewis is so good that I actually signed up to post this comment!

  25. Paul Naylor


    I love the fact that, here in Blighty at least, the media hype over the LHC turning-onage is aimed at the sort of people who get their science from Heat magazine or GMTV. They can't explain particle physics or the Higgs Boson properly so why not frighten the plebs shitless with something very scary sounding, like Black Holes? And 'jokingly' announce the end of the world from their comfy sofas. Even BBC News, which is the best of a bad bunch, had that silly cow on it going on about how we probably shouldn't go into work today, or have a fry-up instead of musli. It was actually bloke doing the weather that tried to introduce some rationality to the proceedings!

    Like the author said, it's not been cranked up to 12 yet and we won't see the results for a few years, whilst in the mean time, the great unwashed will have forgotten about it by the weekend.

    I'm not a physics whizz but I read about the subject (can't pretend to understand a lot of it!) and am fascinated by the subject. Here's hoping the Reg keeps us up to date with developments at the LHC, in all its lovely geekery goodness!

  26. Simon

    Typing from CERN

    Yes, today is just a chance to get a single beam all the way around, no full collisions yet.

    I have had a quick look in the ATLAS control room, and well its heaving in there with people and media.

    As i speak a 2nd beam should be going around the ring and this afternoon there will be some bottles opened to celebrate many years of hard work.

    Woo Hoo!

  27. Sam

    this will happen "by the end of the year".

    Well, obviously...think about it

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Hear hear! but...

    Don't forget that the experiment is generating a lot of media interest in a science project for once, rather than the current hysterical screams about some crunchy breakfast cereal or other.

    I've hardly seen a single hadline decrying the end of the world either, which has to be a good thing. Maybe I've not been giving the British media the credit it deserves...

  29. Richard


    I hadn't been paying too much attention, so it was only after reading further into this mornings hype that I realised this was not in fact the day they push the Big Red Button and destroy us all. The best we could hope for was a miss-aligned electromagnet, resulting an a very deep, narrow whole in part of the Alps and, possible, a very surprised goat herd.

    I also object to the beeb's article, claiming "Success for 'Big Bang' experiment", which as you said, is bollocks.

  30. Filippo Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good to know

    Knowing the ADD levels of today's journalism, it's good to hear that The Reg will report when the apocalypse button actually gets pressed. I'd feel pretty stupid if the glow-of-doom from the Alps was the first warning I get.

  31. Ian Stephenson

    Excellent... MuHAHAHAHAHA

    Top form today Lewis.

    Lets crank it up to eleven!

    Mines the one with the unlicenced particle accelerator on the back.

  32. Bob

    Engineering at it's best

    "following an initial hiccup which appeared to be fixed by the traditional expedient of turning it off then on again"

    Forget about the God particle, when will science discover the elusive "Gremlin particle"?

    The evil beast which builds up inside electrical systems, wreaking havoc until some idiot says "have you tried turning it off and on again". When you eventually succumb to the annoying wittering said gremlin particles are destroyed by the loss of electricity and the bloody thing works again!

    With this discovery Microsoft might finally be able to create an OS that doesn't need restarting every few weeks... No, sorry, that's just because it's code is shit...

    We should also spend time finding the "weak engineering god atom", the atom which constantly fixes weak hardware until finally somebody decides to turn off the power, killing the weak engineering god atom and causing the hardware to explode the next time the power is applied. For examples see 30 year old mainframes and, strangely, light bulbs.

    I did get good use out of the media hype by successfully arguing that since the world was due to end at 9:30 this morning (German time) I didn't see any point in coming to work so that was why I was late :) My manager obviously has a reasonable sense of humour, especially for a German.

  33. Earl

    You are not alone

    We will be there to stand along side you.

  34. Keiran

    You can't cross the streams with one stream

    I've been trying to get people to understand exactly this point over the last few days. The best way is to liken this to the old Ghostbusters concept of crossing the streams of a proton pack.


    LHC- injects proton beams

    GB - called a proton pack and creates a stream/beam

    LHC- when fully active, will cause 2 proton beams to cross paths and potentially cause 'something' to happen.

    GB - Crossing the streams was considered 'bad' (total protonic reversal I seem to remember??)

    Today the LHC only has 1 Proton pack so it can't cause 'the end of the world'

    Has anyone else managed to come up with a simple way to explain it?

    (alien as no ghost)

  35. Mark

    Since when did El Reg do sanity ?

    Wow - a voice of sanity squeaking from under the table.

    I've been pointing this out for a while. In fact it's great fun winding up the doom mongers, they've been wetting themselves that today was the end of the world. I've been enjoying telling them that they got it totally wrong. It's not today they have to worry about, it's sometime in the coming months when, as you put it, they turn up the big knob.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Can somebody tell the BBC, Tabloids, etc that it's not today?

    ...cos I'm really sick of hearing them spout about it. And I'm also sick of hearing uninformed idiots at work talking like the world's going to end, or something amazing is going to happen.

    And can somebody point out that the world isn't going to end either, once the collisions start happening?

    All that's probably going to happen is that Cern are going to collect Petabytes of data which they won't understand for a long while, and most of which will resemble random 0s/1s until somebody actually starts to make sense of the measurements they're guessing might be the right ones to take.

  37. Matt Thornton
    Thumb Down


    Full marks for the Ghostbuster's reference, but why does El Reg insist on being so bloody cynical about absolutely everything?

    I'm no physisisisisicist working on (possibly literally) ground-breaking new research (as tediously reminded to me on a daily basis as I drift in to my job) but it's nonetheless quite exciting what these bearded chaps are up to.

    Or maybe it's just the thought that they might implode the very fabric of our existence and put me out of my misery.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Descriptions of science

    It is descriptions of science just like this one that enticed me to become a scientist! Keep up the good work :)

  39. bluesxman


    "Doomsday device! Ahh the balls in Farnsworth's court now."

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Full marks ...

    You know, it's times like this I wish I was still in academia - I'd have killed to have been able to lever the term 'particle punisher' into my PhD thesis, especially as I studied combustion processes and not particle physics ;-)

    To the lads and lasses at CERN: good luck, and let 'er rip - if you do manage to destroy the entire universe then I for one won't miss it much ...

  41. David Janda

    Thanks ....

    ... for bursting the bubble on some good hysteria.

    You spoil sport bastards.

    Bet not one of you will pull anyone up at the pub tonight when they talk about the world ending eh?

    Wonder why....?

  42. DiskJunky


    you and NewScientist who have been following this store for more than a decade since it was first conceived... :-P ;-)

  43. Scott Millar

    What a let down

    So true they are just testing the beams in one direction, not smashing them together. We will have to wait! Why the media have latched on today i don't know! We need a new date, lets say around 2012, when we are supposed to have a real doomsday.

  44. Jogy George

    Today is not Hadron Collider Day

    Yes. It may take some more time. In the due course of time, and motivated by the strong desire to acquire more knowledge, the search towards Higg's Boson (God's particle) will be continued and a miniature scale Big-Bang may be inevitable. But, are we trying to eat the "Fruit" of the "Tree of Knowledge" as stated in the Genesis of The Bible?

  45. Steve Jones
    Thumb Up

    At long last...

    El Reg is at long last the voice of reason!

    I am totally sick and tired of the media muppets on an un-named radio station (oh ok then, 'Rubber' Johnny Vaughn on Crapital) bleating on about the end of the world. The news presenter even cocked up by saying that the partcles were going to be colliding at "almost the speed of SOUND". Knob.

    Perhaps the LHC could produce a Black Hole just long enough to swallow all the useless media hacks in the universe...

  46. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    Thank God

    ...someone else noticed. Brian Cox and all the other LHC boffins were quite clear that they'd only be testing one particle beam when they talked to Andrew Marr this morning, but no-one in the wouldn't-know-science-if-it-walked-up-and-bit-them BBC editorial team understood what they were being told.

    I still think that someone should have yanked the TV feed as the beam was turned on though, it would have scared the shit out of the news anchors...

  47. Mike Hartley

    THANK YOU!!!

    At long last - someone is pointing out what has been blatantly obvious to those who chose to take note of the facts... the collision isn't, nor has it ever been, planned for today so the worlds ending won't come today (well, not as a result of the LHC anyway!)

    Thanks El Reg! About time someone reported facts, not hysterical fantasies.

  48. Jack Krug
    Thumb Up

    What would Bede say?

    DAMN -- this guy can flat out write! (Insert envy here!)

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can't help thinking that if the Earth does get swallowed up into a black hole, it may not necessarily be a bad thing. We humans have been trying our very best to destroy the planet for years and we seem to be nicely on-course to completing it - the LHC could save us the job! :-)

  50. Annajon

    Have you a foot in the door then?

    I mean, to stay updated about the cackling and foaming.... Have you a man inside? And, my question is still not anwered... Even when you had a man inside, at the moment things go wrong, how are you going to report back to us about it? Maybe it is not such a bad idea after all, to have the party today, and then go back to the rest of our lives. No matter what scientists will discover from this looking back in time, it is still not going to predict anything that will happen in our future.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Marshmallows, anyone?

    Much as I would like to be making Ghostbusters jokes this seems like the appropriate time to found a new Cthulhu Cult. That way, if the collision fails to wake the horrors from beyond the stars at least it gets to be a relief not a disappointment.

    Anyone up for calamari?

  52. Alan
    Thumb Up

    Knowing your Quarks from your elbow

    Finally, a set of clear, accurate articles on this new experiment.

    I was getting sick of reading other descriptions of this work such as 'to create conditions before the big bang' and 'mini black holes'...

    Keep it up Reg!

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Oh bugger

    You mean I *will* have to buy Christmas presents this year after all?

  54. Anonymous Coward

    @Gianni Straniero

    Very near the speed of light.


  55. James Lester


    I wondered how everybody else had missed this... all they're doing is switching on some large magnets.

    Aliens because they may detect the massive surge of power it takes to switch on the thing. *reaches for tin foil hat*

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    is like the initial play in Rollerball, where the ball is fired from the cannon and goes round and round the track, the action doesn't start until sometime later. Now if big Science was like a game of Rollerball then the press may actually take more than a passing interest.

    Paris cos she knows all about rings.


  57. Mark Walker

    Today is 10/9/8

    Now the physics boffins need to build an even bigger machine to turn on in twelve and a half years for 4/3/21

  58. Red Bren

    Missed practical joke opportunity

    I really wanted some mischievous boffin to cut power to all the media feeds just after the big cheer went up and induce mass hysteria in the room temperature IQ brigade.

  59. Liam Johnson
    Thumb Up

    @Anonymous John

    Duh - when they create the black hole, it will take a few months to swallow everything up. So go out and spend all your money on the biggest and best presents you can get. In fact, you could get an enormous loan for more prezzies since you will never have to pay it back!

  60. Paul Docherty

    Closing Speed of Beams

    The closing speed is at maximum 'c' - the speed of light. Nothing goes faster, full stop. Shine two torches at each other, and the beams of photons both are travelling at c, towards each other. Closing speed is exactly c. This is one of the weird bits about relativity.

  61. Anonymous Coward

    I hate Gianni Straniero

    " Quick (stupid) question for the Register's boffinish readership: if each beam is travelling "close to the speed of light", what's the closing speed of the two beams? "

    You swine.

    Now I'll be performing uncontrolled and uninformed thought experiments all day long in a vain attempt to get my head round relativistic kinetics.

    If time dilates for the ultra-high-speed particles, then the speed of the oncoming particle is reduced relativistically.

    Is it then a case that if one was travelling at relativistic speeds and the other stationary, the two particles would experience different closing speeds?!?

    That would explain the need to accelerate both streams, of course. Wouldn't want a pesky non-relativistic collision artefacts interfering with your observation of relativistic ones, would you?

    You swine! You scum! My concentration is now shot!

  62. Anonymous Coward


    "following an initial hiccup which appeared to be fixed by the traditional expedient of turning it off then on again"

    Ah. So it is running Windows then?

    /Mine's the one with the on/off switch at the back.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waste of money

    What they need is a really really huge weighing scale at the top of a tall tall height, with a really really steep slide down to a second really huge weighing scale at the bottom. The slide 1 million 1kg weights from top to bottom.

    I call it my 'Large Kilogram Slider'.

    See "All matter exists in 1 Kg sized chunks" to understand my experiment:

    Then we can observe not just 1 kg weight being created from thin air as it travels from top scale to bottom scale, we can observe super masses being created.

    See "My kgs weights travel backwards in time too" comments on the same page. See not only do they travel backwards in time to a time T, at time T there are 2 of them, I've created a linked particle of mass 2Kg! (The 1Kg weight linked to it's future self!)

    I need a new name for these, calling them 1Kg is quite tacky. I know tacky-1kgs, no tacky-1s tachyons! I'll call them tachyons!

    Now if only I had a name for this super massive particle I wanted to created from these super fast slides of huge masses, if only I had-one.

  64. Prag Fest


    ..the photo shopped pic I saw this morning of the team around the collider with the G-Man lurking in the background.

  65. Leo Maxwell
    Gates Horns


    Nice one, getting an anti-microsoft dig into a seemingly non MS thread.;)

    I just hope they aren't using Windows to control it!

    On the other hand.........

    Bill as the devil...think about it :)

    Oh, and the big red button is here:

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Christmas Special

    If this is going to be happening around Christmas time then the BBC have got themselves an already half-written Doctor Who special!

  67. Anonymous Coward

    Ages - it's going to take ages

    I was lucky enough to visit CERN in June and up close it is a fantastic engineering achievement. They've had to invent all sorts of things - such as a way to produce 500,000 litres of suiperfluid liquid helium, something that was, apparently, previously only made on lab benches in flaskfuls.

    They've used it to cool 33,000 tonnes of equipment down to 1.9K, colder than deep space. As far as I could tell from the presentation I saw, they bought most of the world's production of superconducting wire for a few years to wind the coils for the superconducting magnets. And they had to build a grid computing infrastructure to deal with the gouts of data this thing is going to throw off. So in engineering terms it is an impressive feat.

    Will it find the Higgs boson today, or any time soon? Unlikely, as your other correspondents have said.

    Once the beams are up to full energy, and crossed, they'll produce one billion collisions a second, each generating between 100 and 1000 decay particles. But that will produce such an unmanageable amount of data that the detectors have been designed to do their own discrimination and only pick out and pass on just 150 'interesting' collisions a second for external analysis.

    And the chances of a collision producing a Higgs boson are, apparently, 1 in 10^13. And if CERN spots one they're likely to want to spot another before they go public. And the collider is unlikely to run full time - if one of the magnet sections throws a piston or shreds a cog or something, it will take months to warm it back up to room temperature so it can be worked on, then refill it with liquid helium and then cool it back down again. Oh and it is likely to be a bit radioactive by then as well, just to make the task a bit more challenging.

    So it's going to take a while for CERN to able to declare that they have found the Higgs, even if the first ever collision in the ring provides the evidence for which they are hoping. Which will be reassuring for those who enjoy living with the prospect of imminent cataclysm.

  68. ShaggyDoggy

    Must have

    "Around the end of the year..."

    Has Santa been informed ?

    The Higgs boson is the must-have present this Xmas

  69. Dunstan Vavasour
    IT Angle

    IT Angle

    There is a lot of interesting IT going on around the LHC experiments. A college friend of mine, who teaches at Birmingham University, was explaining to me that they have to put some simple processing right in the detectors to throw away about 90% of the results because they can't get the data out fast enough. The sheer quantity of raw data is intimitading enough, but then we have to look at all the intermediate stuff and results which are derived from it - this is a whole frickin' lot of ones and noughts.

    I remember as a new consultant about 9 years ago going round various universities installing Sun boxen with storage for the worldwide processing of a previous experiment at SLAC (Stanford). Even then, the data was stored on RAIDed discs and never backed up because there was too much and the churn rate was too high. This time round, the groups working on the results will again need vast amounts of storage, and I wonder whether Sun's approach of SAS attached JBOD disc under ZFS, with SSD for hot areas, will actually fit rather well?

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Real Mass From Nothing (are you mad?) or a Complete Misunderstanding?

    They won't find the particle. Shell and BP are working in a completely different direction where we live in a purely conceptual multi-verse and being concepts ourselves we "see" mass as real when it isn't. Much more interesting and the initial experiment looks to have cost only abvout £100 for the parts. Google Shell Sinclair Boffin and choose "I'm feeling lucky", ...... would certainly make a good end to the Da Vinci code as well.

  71. Nick L
    Paris Hilton

    Quality Radio 1 news coverage.

    I was shouting at the radio this morning (yes, really), all thanks to Radio 1's coverage of this. Bad science reporting doesn't even begin to cover it. I know I need to get a life.

    6:30 news: The temperature is colder than "out ov space" (sic). Criitcs worry that it "could open a door to another dimension. Scientists say that's barmy".

    Where's this out of space place?


    "It's the big day for the big bang".

    Well, no, it isn't, is it?

    "fire particles around a 17 mile tunnel at the speed of light".

    At the speed of light? Incredible! OK, it's close to the speed of light, but it isn't at the speed of light. Very small but bloody important difference.

    "could open a black hole which sucks up the earth".

    And people say the Beeb is dumbing down its content.

    You can enjoy this on the listen again for the Chris Moyles show, right at the start, then 30 minutes in. Though why you'd want to is beyond me.

    Paris, 'cos she'd be the Beeb's science correspondent if there was the opportunity for a jolly to Swizerland, and because she knows slightly more than the one the beeb are using.

  72. Snark Boojum

    Relativistic Velocity Addition

    In answer to Gianni Straniero - what is the closing speed of the 2 beams approaching each other where each is near the speed of light .. We cannot use the standard Euclidian v = v1 + v2 addition because of special relativity theory so we use the relativistic velocity addition where c is the speed of light. This is asymptotic on c as v1 and v2 increase. At low velocities it gives a result close to the Euclidian formula

    v = (v1 + v2) / (1+(v1/c)(v2/c))

    Wikipedia entry on the subject :-

    Mine's the lab coat

  73. spezzer

    end of the year?

    nice article Lewis!

    When they end of the year are we talking 31st December or are the boffins hinting that whenever they crank up the big knob it will in fact be the end of the year ... and everything else!

  74. Ross
    Thumb Up


    Whilst the headlines are generally hyped up bollocks, I don't think it's neccessarily a bad thing.

    It's generating a lot of public interest in something that normally wouldn't interest them in the slightest. They don't particularly understand it, but people are starting to actually listen to the news people talk about physics research.

    It's also making today into some kind of event, which just gets people a bit excited. No harm in that.

    Plus it's a great excuse for dark humour. We Brits in particular are good at deriving humour out of the prospect of our own doom. No harm in having a laugh about having a fry-up for breakfast as we'll have wiped ourselves out with a black hole by lunch time.

  75. Thomas
    Thumb Up

    The space for hire

    +1 for Ghostbusters reference

  76. Anonymous Coward

    Repent ye sinners!

    Repent! For the wrath of God The Almighty shall soon be visited! Repent and make your peace with The One True Lord! For soon the world shall be torn asunder by His Hand at the arrogance of the scientist and deniers of Truth in their feeble attempt to unravel His great work.

    Repent and See The Light, or suffer forever in the depths of Hell for all eternity!

  77. Darren B

    So Stephen Hawkins wins his bet!

    He must be laughing at us all as we speak. He's a wag that one, had me convinced.

  78. James Chaldecott

    @Gianni Straniero

    Indeed: Very nearly the speed of light, although E=mc^2 is more to do with general relativity than special relativity (which is what you need to work this out).



    "Notice that for an observer in another reference frame the sum of two velocities (u and v) can never exceed the speed of light. This means that the speed of light is the maximum velocity in any frame of reference."

  79. Daniel

    dammit - now you tell me ...

    (wonders how to retrieve the obnoxious emails sent to my boss/spouse/customers ...)

    What I want to know is, if the thing cost so many gazillion euro-dollars to make, how come there are pics of service engineer/scientist bloke is riding round on a bike?

    even if it's a shiny new mountain bike it hardly seems sensible. Should be a nice BMW town bike, or as its so near Italy, a Ducati or even a whiz bang new Lambretta?

    come to think of it, how come he didn't just get stuck to the magnet? hmm must a be a carbon fibre one.

    @ the Italian bloke :

    the scientific answer to your q is "very ****ing fast indeed"

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    For the following words, gold stars will be issued at the end of the day.

    Will it help if I put a paper bag on my head?

    Do you ever get the urge to stand in front of the beam in the hope you'll gain superpowers?

  81. DeVino

    Children with matches

    You fools. Have none of you watched Ghostbusters and learnt what

    crossing particle beams can do?

    Have none of you played Doom ?

    We'll be knee deep in skull-spitting zombies before you can say

    Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire

    (Umm...That may be quite a while)

    Ma ! Where's my pumpgun ?

  82. John Robson Silver badge

    closing speed

    "Quick (stupid) question for the Register's boffinish readership: if each beam is travelling "close to the speed of light", what's the closing speed of the two beams?"

    From the perspective of each beam the closing speed is slightly closer to the speed of light.

    From the perspective of the detectors (and us) the closing speed is twice "close to the speed of light" (i.e. close to twice the speed of light)

    Both will release the same energy (thanks to Einstein for working that one out), which is fun, and similarly energetic collision occur frequently throughout our solar system, and the rest of the universe...

  83. Kent E. Kelley


    One has said that "Physics is about things that move!". The Queen Nefertiti Rock was moved and sits upon its pedestal in Utah. It will move again. CERN physicists et al are challenged to explain who moved "Nefertiti - The God Particle" to its temporary residence.

    [The expression: “Nefertiti – The God Particle©“ is the intellectual property of Kent E. Kelley USCGR 641-072 1942] August 10, 2008

  84. Peter Reid

    @One quick question, please correct me if I am wrong.

    The detector fields themselves are truly titanic (CMS alone is 4 Tesla, which compares with the Earth's ~50 microTesla), but the solenoids and toroids are constructed such that most of the field is constrained within the devices (and also the beam tubes) themselves; very little leaks out.

    Mind you, near the detectors is another thing entirely. The ALICE detector has at its end two giant steel doors (leftovers from a LEP experiment), weighing 300 tonnes. When the magnet's turned on, the doors bend in by several centimetres.....

  85. Dave


    the collisions will occur close[r] to the speed of light

  86. umacf24

    @Gianni Straniero

    Somewhat nearer the speed of light.

    Lorentz contraction.

  87. iSuff44
    Thumb Up

    I just want it..... swallow France and the credit crunch down it's black hole, now that's good science!!!

  88. Anders Schmidt Hansen
    Thumb Up

    Danish Media-Vikings Fail

    I have to state that ze Danisch media-mecca haz still failed to produce a stable sense of good journalism.

    It's like:

    Goodmorning everyone and to our guest, a senior particle physician from the Niels Bohr Institute.

    Thank you.

    Now, when today are they making a black hole?

    What? No, black hole production is just an exotic and rare theory of the project, we're looking for the Higgs particle and to enrich the world.

    ...So, next question, when are they making a black hole?

    {insert manically frowning senior particle physician going on killing spree here}

    Danish media...absolute fail. Esp. Michael Rathje, argh, sensational-journalist for the fail! I hope that CERN has approved my idea of installing a black hole homing device pointed directly at that guy. Sheesh-ke-bahb.

    Anyway, ofc. concern about microscopic risks of producing even more microscopic black holes with even further microscopic amount of energy [and so on] is a.ok., but let's just direct good karma to CERN instead? Huh? huh?


  89. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hadron Collider Day - October.

    I'm glad that the Reg has been good enough to point out that it was just being switched on today.

    The collision should be next month (or some point after that)...

    "The first beam was circulated through the collider on 10 September 2008 and the first high-energy collisions are planned to take place after the LHC is officially unveiled on 21 October 2008"


  90. Daniel

    Queen Nefertiti Rock

    would have been a great title to a Madness song.

    cue bad saxophone playing!

  91. Anonymous Coward

    At times like thes

    I really miss Douglas Adams. He would have a thing or two to say...


  92. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    @ "Real Mass From Nothing"

    amanFromMars, the gauntlet is thrown. Let the gibberish wars begin!

  93. Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear, where can the matter be ?

    So, if 96% of the Universe is dark matter, does that make the rest of us an ethnic minority ?

  94. SouthernBelle

    But What I Really Want to Know...

    Is crossing particle beams anything like getting your Schwartz twisted?

    Cause I hate it when that happens.

  95. Anonymous Coward

    Always more questions than answers.

    Computers and magnets do not go well together. Au contraire I believe they are very attracted to each other.

    The closing speed is at maximum 'c' - the speed of light. Nothing goes faster, full stop. Shine two torches at each other, and the beams of photons both are travelling at c, towards each other. Closing speed is exactly c. This is one of the weird bits about relativity.

    This is what the device is trying to prove, Standard, relativity and particle physics cannot all be correct.

    Who fills in the insurance forms for these particles colliding?

    If everything steadies down the opposing stream will start in about a month.

  96. Zorric

    The Last Time

    So scientists are confident that the particle collider will not bring about the end of the world in a new big bang? I bet that's just what they before they switched the last one on. 14 billion years ago.

  97. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Boost the sonic oscilator!

    Two objects approaching at near the speed of light:

    If you move at the same speed as one of the beams, you will measure distance and time differently from someone sitting on the ring. As a result, you will get different numbers for velocities. If someone sitting on he ring thinks the beams have velocities of V and -V, then someone moving with one of the beams thinks the ring is moving with velocity V and the other beam is moving with velocity 2V/(1+V^2/C^2) where C is the speed of light. Simply adding velocities gives near enough the right answer if the velocities are small, so the simple (but wrong) formula is taught first and the real formula is left until later - if it is mentioned at all.

    As for mutant powers, some tourist did try to look down the beam of a much smaller (linear) accelerator. He remarked on seeing some pretty colours (the particles directly stimulated neurons in his visual cortex). Afterwards he could not read minds, change the weather, blast things with his eyes, drain peoples lives or even survive a quick bout of brain cancer. Just goes to show how badly scientists estimate the ability of tourists to recognise real danger.

    LHC accelerates protons towards its centre to make them go round in a circle. Accelerating charged particles emit light (called synchrotron radiation). As LHC accelerates protons hard, the light is at a high frequency: x-rays. I do not know how long it would take for the X-rays to kill you. You might have time to undo the big bolts holding a section of the ring in place, use a crane to lift that section out the way and then stand in the path of the protons - which won't be there any more as you just filled the ring with air and removed a set of focusing magnets and bending magnets required to keep the protons in the ring.

    There are a couple of places where the bending magnets can be turned off to dump the beams. People desperate to change their appearance at will, catch birds with their tongues or levitate metal objects could try standing in front of one of the beam dump targets. It is not an experiment that I would expect them to survive for long.

  98. Daniel
    Thumb Up

    The cake is a lie!

    "Thanks, Reg

    By Neil

    For promising to stay on the story.

    Maybe there will be cake."

    I also shall be keenly following this one!

    I wouldn't get your hopes up for the cake though, the cake is a lie.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dunstan Vavasour

    Lest time I looked, CERN was installing new Sun StorageTek tape libraries. Lots (and lots and lots) of empty tape boxes... No ZFS that I noticed, and few Sun boxen. Mostly just rack after rack of the cheapest 1U x86 servers they could get.

    The only Sun computing kit was being used for the financial database. I suppose they need reliability there :)

  100. Richard Mason


    I was trying to explain to the lads in the warehouse who believe almost everything The Sun prints why the world wasn't going to end today. The best I could come up with for a bunch of car parts packers was:-

    Imagine someone had designed a new car to break the land speed record, the media are already reporting that the car has broken the land speed record despite the fact that yesterday they turned the engine over for the first time and today they are seeing if it will actually run for a short while.

    The lads finally understood that this was the first of many steps before the big bang which will cause Switzerland to disappear into a tiny balck hole, luckily if that happens I probably won't be around to have to actually explain to them what happened.

  101. Anonymous Coward

    Closing speed...

    0.9999999999999999499999995c - well according to my back of fag packet calculations - assuming the quotes I've seen of the particle speed being 0.99999999c (eight 9's)

    As for not being able to travel faster than light... not sure that's true. You can't *accelerate* to the speed of light, but objects can exist that are always faster than light (see tachyons and Cherenkov radiation - the equivalent of a sonic boom)

  102. Henry Cobb

    CERN already devastated world

    CERN has already created a black hole that has absorbed all the works of man and left behind only a vast wasteland.

    It's called the World Wide Web.


    The horror, the kittens!

  103. W

    All well and good

    But when is the Aspire One getting a 6 cell bettery and/or what is the battery life of the Mini 9. We need to know.

  104. Richard Cross

    Magnets & Banks

    In reply to post #4.

    CERN is near Geneva, the big banks are HQ'd near Zurich half way across Switzerland, which is about 3 times bigger than an actual cuckoo clock, so yes, this will undeniably lead to the end of the global banking system. Perhaps they should have thought of this beforehand. Curse their short-sighted amateur preparations!

    Interesting thought: in this day and age of impending environmental apocalypse, no one seems to be giving the press the figures for the LHC power consumption. I'm sure they are using low energy lightbulbs wherever possible, but I reckon it's going to need several 13A fuses welded in tandom when they plug this baby in to the mains.

    And that got me thinking... instead of recreating the start of the universe, maybe they are just accelerating the end of the world as we all meltdown along with the ice caps. Still, we should be able to see the bankers whipping out their DRPs first.

  105. ShaggyDoggy

    @ Ac 11:10 am

    I think they have pre-cooled spares that they can slot in

    erm, I would have anyway ....

  106. DAN*tastik
    Paris Hilton

    @ iSuff44

    Swallow? wrong icon

    - apoligies, i couldn't help it

  107. Anonymous Coward

    Brief update..

    The article says 'In coming months the underground Alpine boffinry chiefs, once happy that they have hadrons whipping round the big ring properly in one direction, will fire up the opposing stream going the other way.' - this happened today. Auntie has kindly deposited a journo in CERN with a laptop and a blog (he probably has to come home by the end of the week though) -

    At this rate, we'll be up to our arses in higgs bosons by the end of the week.

  108. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @Richard Cross

    "Interesting thought: in this day and age of impending environmental apocalypse, no one seems to be giving the press the figures for the LHC power consumption. I'm sure they are using low energy lightbulbs wherever possible, but I reckon it's going to need several 13A fuses welded in tandom when they plug this baby in to the mains."

    Indeed. That's why CERN doesn't run its big experiments over the winter. (I suppose the fact that half their staff have gone home to teach undergraduates might be another factor, but as far as I know the electricity bill is the main reason.)

  109. SkippyBing

    I for one

    am getting tired of waiting for our new trans-dimensional overlords.

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I don't know about the rest of you...

    But I'm going to party it up and start using my credit cards for everything I can . After all, when they do turn up "The Big Knob" and blow us all to Hades, I'll have the last laugh. I'll have racked up massive debt and with the world gone I won't have to pay the bills!

    Now where did I put that tin foil hat...

  111. Kevin

    So where do they put the cat?

    Isn't there supposed to be a cat involved in this experiment?

    After all a day without Schrodinger is like a day with/without :)


  112. anarchic-teapot
    Gates Horns

    Initial hiccup

    Yes, the day after Patch Tuesday can be a real bind.

  113. Jon Tocker

    re Awards

    What, no mention of Frank Bough and Red Bren for their brilliant suggestions?

    Thanks, guys, I had a great laugh.

    Rest assured that if I'd been there, I would've pulled the plug on the media a couple of seconds after power-up (would want my mates around the world recording the news broadcasts at the time so I could watch the results at my leisure - probably whilst enjoying a favourite beverage...)

  114. Emperor Zarg

    Stephen Hawking says....

    ..."the most exciting result would be something we don't expect".

    Every scientist/physicist available to the meeja seems to be saying that they don't expect the world to end. Hmmm.

    Having met one of the boffins involved in building this thing, if he's anything like typical they'll adopt a "suck it and see" approach.

  115. Captain DaFt

    @ SouthernBelle

    "Is crossing particle beams anything like getting your Schwartz twisted?"

    Yes, but at 99.99999% the speed of light! (ow.)

    Mine's the one with the really twisted knickers in the neckband. (ow.).

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twice the speed of light ?

    Two beams, opposite directions, twice the speed of light?


  117. Paul Lee

    The Big Knob?

    I like it! Except that ... the obligatory "This Morning" Spod told us a few days ago that it was just the return key on a computer. Oh! All my illusions ruined. All we need is a big red Doomsday button.

  118. Mr Floppy

    oh damn

    Told the boss off and spent all my money on hookers and booze.

    This thing had better end the world. If not, it had better create a wormhole which will allow time travel so I can go back and tell myself not to do what I just did.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When the media's got bored of reporting the LHC, they can liven it all up and turn it into reality TV by using the LHC to accelerate politicians to near light speed and colliding them. Not sure how you'd declare a winner, or if you'd learn anything about the nature of the universe, but you could guarantee a large audience. And you would learn something about the structural integrity of MPs at high velocity.

  120. Joseph Helenihi

    Top notch

    "turn the control known only* as "The Big Knob" right up, doubtless disregarding despairing warnings from their hunchbacked assistants with a cackle of insane laughter as they do so."

    Mr. Page, fabulous imagery. Please do keep us posted, thanks.

  121. Bruno de Florence


    The black hole may have already occured when they switched that big Mamma on, and we are now all in a parallel universe. It's just that, like a Phlip K. Dick hero, we have not yet realised it. Can someone check what the history books say about who won WWII? In the event that we have jumped into a parallel reality, hopefully nu labour, traffic wardens and health & safety officials will have been left behind.

  122. M Neligan

    @Simon Ward

    Simon Ward, PhD in combustion processes says: "if you do manage to destroy the entire universe then I for one won't miss it much".

    Scientists - what's not to love?

  123. Anonymous Coward

    @Richard Cross

    LHC power input is 1.4MW IIRC.

    Interesting CERN trivia: during experiments some years ago they saw a regular but unexplained variation in the beams. Then one day it stopped, for a whole week. They eventually worked out that it was due to the magnetic fields generated in the earth by the return currents from French TGV trains. Except for the week that there was a train strike...

    Sensitive, those detectors...

  124. ShaggyDoggy

    Speed of 'lite'

    No, when 2 cars crash each doing 50 mph the collision speed is 100 mph

    When 2 proton beams crash each doing 99.999% speed of light the collision speed is, erm, 99.999% speed of light.

    Gotta love Einstein

  125. Mick Ashby

    I can prove the truth!

    There are serious inconsistencies in the New Scientist article:

    Paragraph 2:

    "At 1025 (local time) scientists sent a single beam of protons in a clockwise direction around the full 27 kilometres of the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland."

    Paragraph 3:

    "The journey began at 0930 when LHC project leader Lyn Evans and his team launched protons into the ring... so that physicists could learn how to steer the beam, which is travelling at 99.9998% the speed of light."

    Paragraph 7:

    "It took us 12 hours to circulate a beam around the Large Electron Positron Collider,"

    That is a paradox! 99.9998% the speed of light? No way! Even I could run a lap of that 27 kilometres circuit in less than 12 hours - even if it was up-hill all the way!

    Why are the people who write New Scientist articles almost as stupid as the people who append comments on The Reg?

    For God's sake no wonder the country is in such a mess, when Gordon Brown spends billions of pounds of our tax-money on a massive toys-for-scientists job creation scheme. And then they go and put cheap batteries in it.

    And I've got a mathematical PROOF that even fits on the back of a beer mat - So it MUST be right!

    Speed of light, c = 300,000,000 m/s

    Distance travelled, d = 27,000 m

    Time travelled, t = 12 h = 12x60x60s = 43,200 s

    Velocity, v = d/t = 0.635 m/s

    QED. Which proves that it's all a big fraud. They do NOT have the "world's most powerful accelerator". They are probably using some of them radio-controlled toy racing cars to carry protons around the track!

    I've got MORE proof. If you take a close look at the "first picture" in that NS article, you can clearly see an axle and two wheels. And obviously the blue car won!

  126. Anonymous Coward


    By god, you're right, we must be in a parallel universe, England played good football and actually beat Crotia, and Gordon Brown has relented on giving poor people help with rising energy prices!

  127. Swee' Pea
    Thumb Up


    Hah! Accelerate politicians!

    Now that's a political race to follow! And it should be ready just in time for the US electron -- election.

  128. Lyne
    Thumb Up

    there is something really wrong here

    OK- What do we do people to raise awareness. We all know there is something really wrong here... We would act for normally less than that! Any leader here??

  129. Anonymous Coward

    So, sir....

    You say you were proceeding in an orderly fashion at close to the speed limit, C, when, your words sir, this maniac coming in the other direction veered in front of you and collided with you causing you to decompose into your fundamental particular components....

    Do I really need to say it?

  130. Daniel Turner

    LHC Articles...

    Where's the up-to-date info! We need an LHC article section :P Or tag em with LHC

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