Bad news. The end is nigh. The world will be destroyed on Wednesday this week. A black hole will swallow the Earth. And it’s going to happen because scientists will replicate conditions that existed just after the Big Bang occurred in an attempt to unlock the secrets of how the universe began.

At least that’s what opponents of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project claim. The LHC is a giant 27km “atom-smasher” built beneath the border of France and Switzerland. A failed last-ditch European Court of Human Rights lawsuit by critics of the project even tried to stop those curious scientist types switching on the LHC on Wednesday, lest it rip open the fabric of the space/time continuum and kills us all.

It sounds like the plot of a bad sci-fi movie. So who’s the “evil villain” responsible for this dastardly deed? Turns out it’s Professor Brian Cox, keyboard player in long forgotten ’90s UK pop band D:Ream. Their one moment of fleeting fame, the hit song Things Can Only Get Better, would also be long forgotten if not for the fact it was co-opted by Tony Blair’s New Labour Party as the soundtrack to their successful 1997 UK election campaign. Cox has since left the pop life behind and is now a respected experimental physicist.

To be fair, Professor Cox is but one of more than 6000 scientists who have collaborated on the scientific experiment, but since he’s previously had five minutes of fame — thus providing an easy hook for “dumb” readers and viewers — he’s being pushed out front-and-centre to get his additional 10 minutes’ worth in doing the media rounds to assure everyone that the LHC project is completely safe.

The Large Hadron Collider has been built by the sinisterly monikered European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Subatomic particles will be smashed together in the LHC and their break up will give scientists a chance to discover exactly how matter is made.

It’s this radical experiment that has critics of the project worried that all will not go according to plan. The “we should not mess with things we don’t understand” brigade (who would still have us all living in caves…) have mobilised online to spread the word that the apocalypse is upon us. So far such hysteria has mostly been restricted to the wonderful World Wide Web but be prepared for the issue to hit mainstream media outlets in the next 24 hours.

Someone at The New York Times may even pray for the end of the world — if only to save them the ongoing embarrassment of being responsible for referring to the LHC in April this year as the Large Hardon Collider.

Despite the online doomsayers’ concerns (ironically, the World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee while working at CERN), it’s safer to trust the CERN scientists on this. They’ve crunched the data and have released a steady stream of media releases reiterating the safety of the LHC. After all, if they do get it wrong there’s not going to be anyone left alive to say “I told you so”.

And on the upside, if the planet ceases to exist on Wednesday at least we won’t have to worry about all that climate change “argey-bargey” any more…

Eminent physicist/ex-D:Ream keyboard player Professor Brian Cox appears on tonight’s edition of Enough Rope with Andrew Denton on ABC1 at 9:35pm to discuss the Large Hadron [not Hardon] Collider project. Or you can watch this handy rap song which explains how it’ll all go down, dawg.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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