The particle-smashing Large Hadron Collider(LHC) is up and running, and we're still here.
"We've got a beam on the LHC," project leader Lyn Evans told his colleagues to applause after the machine finished coaxing a beam of protons around the 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel at 10:28 a.m. CEST (4:28 a.m. ET).
“There it is! There it is!” shouted the announcer from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, according to a live blog of the event on Symmetry Breaking. “Congratulations! This is astonishingly fast.” The test took about an hour to complete after CERN injected the proton beam into the LHC.
Over the coming months and years, scientists will run a series of experiments in the $9 billion LHC designed to tease out tightly held secrets of the universe. Deep under the Swiss-French border, they'll be investigating why particles have mass and looking for particles of dark matter.
If scientists successfully send a beam around the LHC in the other direction, they'll be able to create high-energy collisions nearly the speed of light -- conditions simulating the moment after the big bang.
In a few years, they plan to start firing a beam of lead ions around the machine as well to investigate the ultradense state of matter known as the quark-gluon plasma. (We've got an in-depth report on the LHC here.)
Doomsday forecasters, worried that the LHC will create mini black holes that would suck up Earth when collisions begin in a few weeks, had sought a restraining order to prevent CERN from activating the machine.