The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, was established in 1954 in Switzerland by 12 member states. Since then, it's swelled to 22 member states and has made dozens of important discoveries, including the Higgs boson, or "god" particle, and invention of the World Wide Web. But a powerful scientific laboratory like this is ripe for conspiracy theories — especially after it turned on the Large Hadron Collider. For a while before it hit the "on" button, people feared the Large Hadron Collider might destroy Earth, being the largest machine in the world used to smash subatomic particles together. But alas, it still has not. While the kind of cutting-edge science discoveries made at CERN are thrilling, a number of theorists around the world still worry about the possibility of disastrous effects of the research. Stuff They Don't Want You To Know's hosts Matt Frederick and Ben Bowlin compiled and observed all the available data and theories they could find in this episode of the podcast Should We Be ConCERNed? Particles are the microscopic elements that make up everything in the entire universe, and subatomic particles — like protons and electrons — are even smaller than atoms. What CERN is trying to find out is how the universe works by studying the building blocks of all matter, as well as the fundamental forces that make them work the way they do, like gravity. No small task. In order to do that, scientists at CERN accelerate two high-energy particle beams (close to the speed of light) inside the Large Hadron Collider, which is supercooled by electromagnets to -271.3 degrees Celsius (-456.3 degrees Fahrenheit). Once the particles reach the proper speed, they are made to collide, and the scientists and physicists observe the results. These experiments have proven the existence of the Higgs boson, as well as helped us better understand the neutral particles called neutrinos.
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