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Will the Large Hadron Collider destroy the Earth?

RELEASED December 8, 2009
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Episode Summary
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss the Large Hadron Collider, from its purpose and origins to how likely it is to wipe out all life in the universe.

Chuck Bryant

You can just call me Boson, Higgs Boson.

Josh Clark

No one's gonna call you that.

Chuck Bryant

That would be a great name, though.

Josh Clark

Uh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Higgs Boson. What up, Higgs?

Josh Clark

I wonder if that thing is discovered if somebody will name their kid, Higgs Boson, you know Machowicz, or whatever.

Chuck Bryant

Well, if someone names their kid, Yeah Detroit, I think someone could potentially name their kid Higgs Boson.

Josh Clark

There's - there's even a comma, I think, in there, isn't there?

Chuck Bryant

In Yeah Detroit?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

I don't - isn't a exclamation point?

Josh Clark

Yeah. There's some sort of punctuation. When you get into your name, your parents were messed up.

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

Chuck's talking about a theoretical particle, called the Higgs Boson. And we'll talk about it in a minute, but first we're gonna talk about the place where they're hoping to find proof, positive, that the Higgs Boson particle exists.

Chuck Bryant

Yes, Josh. And this is very science heavy.

Josh Clark

Super science heavy.

Chuck Bryant

Because it's about science.

Josh Clark

So science heavy that Chuck and I are a little nervous about this one, I'm not afraid to admit.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I have dark matter oozing out of my ears.

Josh Clark

Yeah, you do.

Chuck Bryant

Both ears, which is proof that it exists, at least.

Josh Clark

Exactly. You just - you just amended the standard model, Chuck. All right. Let's talk about this, dude. What - what - what is this? We're talking about the Large Hadron Collider. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

Which you may have heard about, you may know a lot about, and if you do, I imagine we'll probably get some angry emails from you.

Chuck Bryant

When we mess it up, inevitably.

Josh Clark

Right. Right. But on the border between Switzerland and France -

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

- 100 meters underground.

Chuck Bryant

Beautiful country.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

There is a facility with a track that's what, 17 miles long, I think 17.7?

Chuck Bryant

16 point something, give or take. We'll just call it 17.

Josh Clark

17. And around this track, they shoot beams of light.

Chuck Bryant

Pretty simple.

Josh Clark

It is pretty simple.

Chuck Bryant

Can we stop now?

Josh Clark

Yes, we can. There - there is a Large Hadron Collider, everybody. That's what it's called. It's called the Large Hadron Collider.

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

It's been built, I think they started in the 21st century and it finally went online for the first time in 2008. So far, it's cost $6 billion to construct.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I've heard up to 10, even, depending on who you ask.

Josh Clark

Well, yeah, and there's a lot of countries involved. There's thousands of scientists who are going back to their home countries and saying, "We need more money. We need more money."

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