So, here we are. Still in existence. Hurrah!
The Large Hadron Collider (image right is courtesy of CERN) started a new phase of experimental work today, colliding particles at double the energy it was working at a few years back when the Higgs was discovered. By time I was making breakfast and checking email, their live blog, etc., this morning, it was clear that (contrary to fears expressed by some) the LHC had not created a black hole that swallowed the earth, nor had it created some sort of strange chunk of new vacuum that condensed that of the entire universe into a new phase. (Or if it did either of those things, the effects are hardly noticeable!!)
As I keep emphasising (actually I’ll be talking about this to a puppet character on a TV show tomorrow too – details later) the LHC (or any of the particle collision experiments we’ve ever done) is not doing anything that Nature does not do routinely right here at earth (and most times way more violently and spectacularly than we can) in e.g. cosmic ray collisions. All we are doing in making these experiments is creating collisions in a specific and convenient place where we can also build a ton of detecting equipment around the site in order to watch what happens. So if high energy collisions were going to create some crazy thing and swallow the earth, Nature would have already done so, having had 4.5 billion years (as compared to our < 100 years) to try. Anyway, huge excitement and anticipation for what we might see in this new phase of particle physics! Stay tuned! -cvj