Today is the day! The first beam of protons in the Large Hadron Collider will be circulated today at about 2 AM Central Time, September 10th. This is a big milestone for high energy physics, and you can find information about it all over the blogosphere and the internet at large. I recommend that you check here for Cosmic Variance’s liveblog, and the CERN website for information on the startup, as well as a live webcast. Not sure exactly what they’ll be showing on the webcast, but if your an insomniac (or a European), and you’re looking for some physics-related entertainment (and who isn’t?), it should be worth checking out.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the doomsayers by now. (Oh no, we’re gonna get eaten by black holes!) I hope you’ve also heard the reasons why they’re all crackpots, as well. (In short: production of black holes is extremely unlikely, they’ll decay away extremely quickly due to Hawking radiation, and there are high-energy collisions in the upper atmosphere all the time, so anything the LHC does will have already happened countless times before.)
But I wonder if those doomsayers (or the popular media who have given them their publicity) realize that the beam will only circulate in one direction today, so no collisions will take place. Even though, as a scientist, I should wait for the evidence to shut them up, I’m kinda hoping that they didn’t get this distinction and they’ll shut up sooner. We know that the media will be sloppy in their reporting: “The LHC started without a hitch today, and there’s not a black hole or a strangelet to be seen. This is just like the Y2K thing!” Then the general public will forget all about it, and science can continue as normal.