Swallow me, hole
The Large Hadron Collider first started smashing subatomic particles together in 2010, sparking a wave of panic about scientists accidentally ushering in the apocalypse. Nervous critics said that the experiments these scientists were conducting with the LHC could create a small black hole, which would suck in everything around it and eventually engulf the entire world.
Evidently, these critics were wrong. We’re still here in 2022, and though it can sometimes feel like we’re living in a hellscape, we are – at least for the moment – still a pre-apocalyptic society. In fact, the LHC ran successfully at the headquarters of the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) for several years, before shutting down for updates in 2018.
In that time, the particle accelerator facilitated some of the biggest international science collaborations the world has ever seen, resulting in the discovery of an elementary particle named the Higgs boson (a certified big deal – there’s a reason it’s nicknamed the ‘God Particle’).
Now, though, Doomsday fears are rising once again, as the Large Hadron Collider enters a new phase of experiments, which will see it create collisions at unprecedented energy levels. This time, it’s not mere black holes that people are anticipating, either. Try: gates to Hell, demonic portals, and doorways to the multiverse. If the conspiracy theories are correct, this is what we have to look forward to from today (July 5), when the experiments begin.
Below, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about the theories, and what’s really happening 175 metres beneath the France-Switzerland border.
WHAT IS THE LARGE HADRON COLLIDER, ANYWAY?
Built by CERN between 1998 and 2008, the LHC is the world’s largest particle collider, housed in a tunnel that measures 17 miles in circumference, and is buried up to 175 metres deep near Geneva. What does it do? It accelerates high-energy particle beams to almost the speed of light, which then collide at four crossing points.
The purpose is to answer some of the fundamental questions in the field of physics, relating to everything from the relationships between subatomic particles, to theories of space and time, to Einstein’s theory of relativity.
WHY IS IT SO SCARY?
In the past, people have tried (unsuccessfully) to sue CERN for creating a danger to public safety, hinting at an underlying fear about the side effects of using the unprecedented technology.
The two main fears that surround the use of the Large Hadron Collider are black holes and the eerily-named “strange matter”. The first fear is pretty obvious: one of the LHC’s goals is to simulate microscopic black holes that contain clues about the Big Bang. Hearing this, with little to no technical expertise, it definitely sounds like a bad idea.
The second fear revolves around the idea that the high-energy LHC experiments could produce “strangelets”, a hypothetical material made up of “strange matter” that could “infect” the material that makes up the rest of the Earth. That’s a lot of quotation marks, and for good reason: strange matter is, at the moment, purely hypothetical, and hasn’t been observed in outer space, where high energy rays are bouncing about all over the place.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE GETTING INCREASINGLY SUPERNATURAL
The LHC opened up again earlier this year, after three years of upgrades and maintenance work. Apparently, beams have been circulating in the accelerator since April, and are now stable enough to resume testing at higher energy levels than ever, set to run for close to four years. Cue: mass panic on social media.
In keeping with the internet’s spiritual awakening over the course of the last few years – which has already seen conspiracy theorists veer away from the likes of Big Pharma and secret military operations, toward Satanism, witchcraft and the return of Atlantis – this hysteria comes in different flavours in 2022. “CERN is opening a multi-dimensional portal on July 5 and will be using dark matter!” writes one Twitter user. “Everything is fine.”
Another user agrees that CERN are on schedule to rip open a portal in space-time, adding: “They began getting it ready when the planets aligned on June 24th.”
Admittedly, some scientists are exploring the possibilities of a multiverse in relation to the Higgs boson – a theory that will presumably develop with the gathering of more data over the next few years.
Other internet conspiracy theories are even more far-fetched, however, such as the one that suggests the new experiments will open portals to Hell. Then there’s the idea that CERN tampering with the God Particle will release demons and spirits that can enter your body, especially if you’ve… been drinking? Apparently, similar demonic forces were also circling in 2012 and 2016 (years that did, to be fair, hit different on the apocalypse scale).
IS ANYTHING ACTUALLY GOING TO HAPPEN?
People have been stoking fears about the Large Hadron Collider for years, both in real life and in fiction. Angels and Demons, the 2000 book by author and pseudointellectual Dan Brown, was partly set at CERN, where the Illuminati steal some “antimatter” to… blow up the Pope? More recently, Stranger Things has reintroduced the idea that our Promethean desire for knowledge and power could unlock untold evils from another dimension.
This is, however, all fiction – as are most, if not all, of the theories currently spreading across the internet. If you think that’s the demon that’s taken up residence in my soul talking, then consider CERN’s soothing safety statement instead: “The LHC can achieve an energy that no other particle accelerators have reached before, but nature routinely produces higher energies in cosmic-ray collisions… Whatever the LHC will do, nature has already done many times over during the lifetime of the Earth and other astronomical bodies.”
Basically, if anything really bad was going to happen, it would probably already have happened. So, while the scientists get to work at CERN, we can all calm down and crack open a drink without the fear that evil spirits are going to slip in with the good vibes.