Earth Graphics 2008 08 21 Scilhc121
Another milestone for the largest refrigerator ever made

The first particles have been injected into the biggest atom smasher on the planet, marking the start of the countdown to probing the secrets of the universe. Scientists are pushing ahead with powering up the machine, shrugging off speculative fears that it could destroy all life on Earth by sucking it into a black hole. Starting up the biggest scientific experiment ever built is not as simple as flipping a switch.

Earlier this month, the successful injection of the first particles – protons – into part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, took place.

This weekend, scientists are hoping to complete testing of another part of the machine, which sits in a 17 mile circular tunnel approximately 100 metres underneath the Franco-Swiss border, with the aim of seeing particles travel the whole way around for the first time.