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AS THE world's largest and most expensive science experiment, the new particle accelerator buried 100 metres beneath the Alpine foothills along the Swiss-French border is 27.3 kilometres long and up to 12 storeys high. It weighs 2 billion kilograms, and is designed to generate temperatures of more than a trillion degrees.
Most experts believe the explosions created when the particles hit each other will reveal the basic building blocks of everything around us. There are some, however, who fear it could destroy the planet.
A lawsuit filed last week by environmentalists in Hawaii is seeking a restraining order preventing the European Nuclear Research Centre (CERN) from switching it on for fear it could create a black hole that will suck up all life on Earth.
"We are going to see new types of matter we haven't been able to see before," said Professor Frank Close, a particle physicist at Oxford University. "The idea that it could cause the end of the world is ridiculous."
Housed in a subterranean lair that would provide a suitable home for a Hollywood super-villain, it is hardly surprising there are conspiracy theories surrounding the work being carried out on the collider.