London, September 17 : The first collisions between subatomic particles will take place in the giant Large Hadron Collider (LHC) next week, among fears that it might create a doomsday-like scenario for our planet.
The LHC circulates particles in a 17-mile circumference underground tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border at The European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva, Switzerland, known by the acronym CERN.
According to a report in Telegraph, although there was much uproar last week about the first particles - protons - to whirl around the LHC at a shade under the speed of light, the real aim of the exercise is to bring counter rotating beams of particles into collision in the four "eyes" - detectors - of the machine to recreate conditions not seen since just after the birth of the universe.
This is the aspect of the experiment that has triggered all the angst and hand-wringing by doomsayers and Jeremiahs, who fear that the collisions will mark the end of the world, as it tumbles into the gaping maw of a black hole.
These fears have been dismissed as nonsense by Dr Evans, along with scientists such as Prof Stephen Hawking, who say that the end of the world is not nigh.
The original plan was to take 31 days from the first proton beams circulating in the LHC to smashing protons for the first time.
"We were going along at a real good lick," Dr Evans said of the days after particles first circulated.
But, the cryogenics that keep the great machine cooled went down on Friday, as a result of thunderstorms disrupting the power supply.
"We have had problems with the electricity supply for various reasons and the cryogenics is recovering from that, so we will not have a beam again, probably until Thursday morning," said Dr Evans.
The team now hopes to achieve collisions at between one fifth and one tenth of the full energy in a few days.
"We are very confident that we can go quite quickly. The experiments have asked us for some early collisions, at low energy. If we get stable conditions, we will get there next week," said Dr Evans.
The collisions will take place in the two general purpose detectors of the giant machine, called Atlas and CMS, though Dr Evans added that the team will also attempt collisions in Alice, which will study a "liquid" form of matter, called a quark-gluon plasma, that formed shortly after the Big Bang, and an experiment called LHCb, which will investigate the fate of antimatter in the wake of the Big Bang.