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Scientists: Atom-smasher Won't Bring Armageddon

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Published on Jun 28, 2008

TechnologyScientists: Atom-smasher Won't Bring ArmageddonScientists: Atom-smasher Won't Bring ArmageddonThe Associated PressThe most powerful atom-smasher ever built could make some bizarre discoveries after it is switched on in August. But some critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures. (June 28)[Notes:Dateline: MEYRIN, Switzerland] It's being called the largest scientific experiment in history ...And some say one that **could** cause Armageddon.This five-point-eight billion-dollar machine is designed to break up atoms ...It's called the Large Hadron Collider or L-H-C ... An underground tunnel 17 miles wide ... Attached to several particle detectors the size of office buildings. Those detectors will look for signs of invisible dark matter ... a so-far undiscovered particle smaller than the atom....one scientists believe gives matter mass.But critics say this mammoth machine **could** destroy the world.That's because ... By the end of the summer ... the Collider is scheduled to generate energies seven times higher than any other machine in history. [Notes:SOUNDBITE Lyn Evans, LHC project leader, CERN: "I think, obviously, we have no concerns at all, there is a huge community of scientists who know what they are talking about and are sleeping quite soundly concerning the LHC. But nevertheless, this creates problems in the general public who are seriously concerned, and we have to answer to that."]Concerns that these scientists don't know exactly **what** will happen when they flip the switch.Critics say that smashing atoms at ninety-nine-point-nine percent the speed of light might cause the fabric of the universe to fold up on itself .. But scientists here are brushing off those concerns.They say cosmic rays have been bombarding the earth at much higher energies since the solar system formed four-point-five billion years ago. [Notes:SOUNDBITE John Ellis, CERN Theoretical Physicist: "The LHC is only going to reproduce what nature does every second, it has been doing for billions of years, and all of these astronomical bodies including the earth and the sun, they are still here. So there really is no problem, but if people are concerned about it, we will certainly discuss."] The European Research center reviewed safety issues of the Collider in 2003 ... And said there was no way the device could trigger a catastrophic event. The center is expected to publish an updated review later this week. ___ ___, The Associated Press.

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