Tonight the Large Hadron Collider had a beam all the way around for the first time. Some nutjobs are apparently afraid that this might destroy the world. But someone has conveniently put up a web site to let you check: http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/ The LHC is the world's largest particle accelerator. Buried under the Franco-Swiss border, at 27km long, it is the largest machine in the world. The plan is to have beams of protons (a type of hadron) or lead nuclei splat into each other at very high speeds (99.999999% of the speed of light) and with very high energies. This allows physicists to test various aspects of the Standard Model of particle physics, including hopefully observing the predicted Higgs boson for the first time. Stephen Hawking has apparently bet $100 that we won't see a Higgs boson using the LHC.
Some people are apparently taking this LHC thing destroying the world thing quite seriously. I've personally spoken to some quite intelligent people who say that of course, they don't really think the world is going to end when the LHC is switched on, but they are worried anyway. They can't really explain why they are worried either, just that they have somehow been imbued with the sense that this thing is risky and dangerous. Who needs Osama bin Laden when the media is that good at generating fear over nothing? Nothing bad happened when they switched on the 400GeV Super Proton Synchrotron at CERN from 1981. Nor did the world implode when they flipped the switch on the 1TeV Tevatron in 1983. Even the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) didn't create a black hole to swallow the earth when it went live in 2000. Interestingly, the same people protesting that LHC might make black holes or strangelets made exactly the same claims about the RHIC 10 years ago. You'd have thought they'd have found a new fruit loop theory to get excited about since then.