by Dr. Charles Jackson
Many asked me last year about the particle accelerator experiment at the Switzerland CERN facility (Council European for Research Nuclear). Word was, it was going to create a black hole that would suck the world into it and we’d all die. Not quite. News headlines touted the powering-up of this atom-smasher as “a simulation of the Big Bang.” Well, according to BB theory, the Bang would’ve created atoms not smashed them. So this is just the opposite thing – and not a simulation of the Big Bang at all. Now if the CERN machine ever did manage to create something from nothing, now that would be – well, something.
One thing they were looking for was the Higgs boson (tiny particle that theoretically makes up other particles) so elusive yet so important, that physicists call it “the God Particle.” That name alone fills the matter with mystery, intrigue, and excitement – which sells newspapers – and did so quite well.
The sensationalism got an extra boost from Britain’s Stephen Hawking, the famous astrophysicist in a wheelchair with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Hawking predicted the formation of microscopic black holes in the accelerator, from his theories on the universe. If CERN ever does produce them, it’ll likely mean a Nobel Prize – but even Hawking said the holes would disappear just as quickly as they’d form during the experiment. So, no worries. The experiment had difficulties, and the full-power start-up for the16-mile circular tunnel was then rescheduled for September 2009. They did power it up to one-seventh its design capacity – no bosons yet – no black holes, either.
But what is a particle-collider? It’s just another name for an atom-smasher or particle-accelerator – all these terms apply. Everyone’s heard of atoms, and most people know they’re made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Maybe some have heard of quarks – the tiny objects that the other three are made of. But, what are those made of? Is there any end to this? That’s what they’re trying to discover at CERN.
First, you have to get some pieces of atoms trapped in a magnetic field and whip them around in a big circle until they get going almost the speed of light. Then you crash them together or into a barrier – and see what kind of pieces they break into. Cool. Well, it takes a pretty powerful electromagnet to create a field of such strength. And it takes an enormous amount of electricity to power the magnet that creates the field. And we’ve been making bigger colliders with bigger fields, ever since the Atomic Age began. The upgrade for the CERN collider is man’s most recent in that series.
To scientists this is great stuff – but to everybody else, it might just sound pretty scary. What if they finally “prove the Big Bang?” Then what will we creationists do? Don’t worry. If Hawking is right, and it makes the little black holes, he says they’ll disappear before they can suck us into them. And even if the test goes perfectly – it still won’t “simulate the Big Bang.” Like I said, it would do just the opposite of what the Big Bang supposedly did – make atoms. The CERN collider smashes them.
No matter what, it’s bound to be interesting and worthwhile. They might even find “the God Particle.” But wouldn’t it be much better, if the CERN physicists found God Himself? I think so. Don’t get me wrong – science is great business – I myself have called it “God Appreciation 101.” But how can you truly appreciate the Creation, without first appreciating the Creator? So you keep thinking – and don’t worry. The end of the world will come when the One Who created it decides it will end. And that’s one time-schedule that can’t be altered.