The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) reported yesterday that it had analyzed high-energy particle collisions that took place in the Large Hadron Collider (or LHC—the proton-smasher under the French-Swiss border that will either unlock the mysteries of the universe or bring about the fall of mankind, depending on who you listen to) and reconstructed a “Beauty Particle” based on data gathered from collisions using the LHC. It’s an indication that the collider is functioning correctly and is well on its way to full operational capacity.
The particle has already been discovered, so the world-record 7 teraelectron volt collisions between proton streams have not propelled the scientific community into a new age of discovery just yet. However, the creation of this particle is one of the first steps in the LHC's LHCb (the “b” stands for beauty) experiment that is supposed to determine why the universe contains so little antimatter. The LHCb experiment is one of six planned experiments using the LHC.
Much of the world has been on edge waiting for the scientists working with the LHC to iron out problems that have delayed the start of high-energy proton collisions, since the collider is supposed to answer fundamental questions about the universe. Much of the rest of the world has also been on edge for a very different reason—namely, that by venturing further than science has dared to go, the LHC might accidentally destroy the world. CERN published a page on its website to refute the seven most popular theories for how the LHC will destroy the Earth. Things got so wild that some theoretical physicists hypothesized that the Higgs Boson (the “God particle” that scientists believe gives particles mass and which the LHC is designed to discover) is traveling back in time and breaking the machine to prevent itself from being discovered.