London, September 20 : Skeptics dreading that the particle collision in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) would bring about the end of the world, could put their fears to rest, as each collision between a pair of protons in the machine will release an amount of energy comparable to that of two colliding mosquitoes, or the energy needed to defrost a pizza.
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.
The giant machine will recreate energies not seen since the universe was very young, when particles smash together at near the speed of light, with the first collisions scheduled for as soon as teething troubles are sorted out during commissioning.
But there has been a struggle to explain to the public that, though this energy is vast from the perspective of a circulating proton, each collision between a pair of protons will release an amount of energy comparable to that of two colliding mosquitoes.
According to a report in the Telegraph, scientists have been busy calculating how long the giant machine would take to defrost a pizza, or what punch it delivers in terms of colliding mosquitoes.
The magazine Scientific American looked at the most massive particles that will be circulated by the machine (lead ions) to see if they could defrost a pizza.
J R Minkel of the magazine based his calculations on how often the particles circulating in the machine smash into other particles.
Instead, it would be better to look at the power of the LHC's beams at full energy. Currently, these are made up of subatomic particles called protons.
"The beams circulating the great machine will store energy equivalent to that of a Eurostar train travelling at around 90 mph," said Professor Brian Cox of Manchester University.
Another estimate of beam energy is 10 trillion watts.
That means, calculates Minkel, it will take just 30 nanoseconds (billionths of a second) to defrost a pizza with the LHC.
Of course, this all assumes the beam energy could be smeared over the pizza. In reality, the beam would drill into the pizza, according to Dr Steinberg.
According to Dr David Sankey of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire, the protons would not collide with the pizza in one go because they come in bunches, each some three inches long, and separated by a distance of 7.5 metres.