At Cern, the Large Hadron Collider could recreate conditions that last prevailed when the universe was less than a trillionth of a second old. Above is one of the collider’s massive particle detectors, called the Compact Muon Solenoid.
Physics, after all, is supposed to be a cerebral pursuit. But this cavern almost measureless to the eye, stuffed as it is with an Eiffel Tower’s worth of metal, eight-story wheels of gold fan-shape boxes, thousands of miles of wire and fat ductlike coils, echoes with the shriek of power tools, the whine of pumps and cranes, beeps and clanks from wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers and the occasional falling bolt. It seems no place for the studious.
The physicists, wearing hardhats, kneepads and safety harnesses, are scrambling like Spiderman over this assembly, appropriately named Atlas, ducking under waterfalls of cables and tubes and crawling into hidden room-size cavities stuffed with electronics.
They are getting ready to see the universe born again.