Washington, September 1 : Some scientists are trying to stop the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) from going into operation in nine days, saying that it might create black holes which could destroy the world.
The LHC, located 300 ft underground near the French-Swiss border, is a machine that is 17 miles long and cost 4.4 billion pounds to create.
When its switch is pulled on September 10, this atom-smasher will become a virtual time machine, revealing what happened when the universe came into existence 14 billion years ago.
New particles of matter are expected to be discovered, new dimensions found beyond the four known, as scientists re-create conditions in the first billionths of a second after the Big Bang. But, some scientists fear that the massive machine will destroy our planet.
Experts even predict that millions of tiny black holes will be produced - baby brothers of the monsters gobbling up dust and stars at the heart of the galaxies.
That is why some scientists are now trying to stop the project with a last-ditch challenge in the courts.
They fear the LHC experimenters are tinkering with the unknown and putting mankind - and our whole planet - at risk.
Though the group responsible for the experiment, the European Nuclear Research Centre (CERN), has said that these mini black holes will vanish as quickly as they are created, the anti-CERN brigade accuse the scientists of playing God, warning that no one can guarantee that the black holes will not survive, rapidly growing in size to suck the Earth out of existence in an instant.
But CERN, which includes several UK scientists, have said that their work is vital to unlock the secrets of matter that forms everything known in the universe.
In the experiment, atomic particles will be fired in opposite directions along the 17-mile long underground ring - the length of the Circle Line on the London Underground.
They will travel so fast that they make 11,245 trips around the tunnel every second.
From the collisions, scientists expect to discover a fundamental bit of the atom, called the Higgs boson, that is expected to exist but which has never been seen.
Professor Otto Rossler, from the Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen in Germany, is one of the scientists mounting the legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights against 20 countries that are funding the project.
According to him, "It is quite plausible that these little black holes will survive and will grow and eat the planet from the inside out."
"It will not be producing anything that does not already happen routinely in nature," said a CERN spokesman.