30 A.M. (0730 GMT) on Wednesday,The World Will Fall Into A Black Hole !
CERN has had to launch a PR campaign aimed at reassuring the public that the LHC will not create black holes that could engulf the planet or an unpleasant hypothetical particle called a strangelet that would turn the Earth into a lump of goo.
It has commissioned a panel to verify its calculations that such risks are, by any reasonable thinking, impossible, and France too has carried out its own safety probe.
Either way, the end of the world will not happen on Wednesday, for the simple reason that the LHC will not generate any collisions that day.
the first protons will be injected into a 27-kilometre (16.9-mile) ring-shaped tunnel, straddling the Swiss-French border at the headquarters of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Physicists have long puzzled over how particles acquire mass.
In 1964, a British physicist, Peter Higgs, came up with this idea: there must exist a background field that would act rather like treacle.
Particles passing through it would acquire mass by being dragged through a mediator, which theoreticians dubbed the Higgs Boson.
The standard quip about the Higgs is that it is the "God Particle" -- it is everywhere but remains frustratingly elusive.
French physicist Yves Sacquin says that heroic work by the LEP and Fermilab has narrowed down the energy range at which the devious critter is likely to spotted.
Given the LHC's capabilities, "there's a very strong probability that it will be detected," he said.
Some experts are also hopeful about an early LHC breakthrough on the question of supersymmetry.
The supersymmetry theory goes way beyond even the Higgs. It postulates that particles in the Standard Model have related, but more massive, counterparts.
Such particles could explain the unsettling discovery of recent years that visible matter only accounts for some four percent of the Universe. Enigmatic phenomena called dark matter and dark energy account for the rest.
The CERN atom-smasher: A factfile
Here is a snapshot of the world's biggest atom-smasher, due to start operations on Wednesday at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) near Geneva:
-- The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will accelerate hydrogen protons or lead ions to more than 99.9999 percent of the speed of light. The experiments will take place in a ring-shaped tunnel 27 kilometres (16.9 miles) long and up to 175 metres (568 feet) below the ground. The tunnel stretches out from Swiss territory and into France, looping back into Switzerland.
-- The beams run in parallel in opposite directions. Powerful superconducting magnets then "bend" the beams so that streams of particles collide within four large chambers. The smashups will fleetingly generate temperatures 100,000 hotter than the Sun, replicating the conditions that prevailed just after the "Big Bang" that created the Universe 13.7 billion years ago.
-- Swathing the chambers are detectors which will give a 3-D image of the traces of sub-atomic particles hurled out from the protons' destruction. These traces are then closely analysed in the search for movements, properties or novel particles that could advance our understanding of matter.
-- In top gear, the LHC will generate nearly a billion collisions per second. Above ground, a farm of 3,000 computers, one of the largest in the world, will instantly crunch this number down to about 100 collisions that are of the most interest. The data will then be sent out to a grid of institutions and universities around the world for analysis -- a sort of mini-World Wide Web of its own.
-- The tunnel is the world's largest fridge. The super-magnets are chilled to a temperature as low as -271 degrees Celsius (-456.25 degrees Fahrenheit), which is colder than deep outer space, to help them overcome resistance.
-- The collision chambers are herculean in scale. The biggest, called ATLAS, is 46 metres (149.5 feet) long and 25 metres (81.25 feet) high, or about half the size of the Notre Dame Catheral in Paris. At 7,000 tonnes, ATLAS weighs almost as much as the Eiffel Tower, and has 3,000 kilometres (1,875 miles) of cabling. Nearly 300,000 tonnes of rock were dug to house ATLAS and 50,000 tonnes of concrete were poured. In one year, ATLAS will generate 3,200 terabytes of raw data, equivalent to 160 times the three billion books in the US Library of Congress.
-- In the course of a 10-hour experiment, a beam might travel more than 10 billion kilometres (six billion miles), enough to get to Neptune and back. At full intensity, each beam will have the equivalent energy of a car travelling at 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) per hour. The LHC will use up 120 megawatts of power, equal to all the households in the Geneva area.
-- LHC collisions will generate 14 teraelectron volts (TeV), amounting to a high concentration of energy but only at an extraordinarily tiny scale. One TeV is the equivalent energy of motion of a flying mosquito. There is no safety risk, says CERN.
-- The LHC cost 6.03 billion Swiss francs (5.46 billion dollars, 3.9 3.76 billion euros) to build.