Leading article: Apocalypse postponed

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The end of the world has been cancelled, again. There were those who thought that there might be apocalyptic consequences if the particle accelerator at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as Cern, in Switzerland succeeded in reproducing the conditions of the Big Bang.

You can stop worrying. It happened yesterday and the mountains around the great loop of the underground laboratory have not fallen in. November 8, 2010 can be added to October 22, 1844, which has since been known as The Great Disappointment by the religious sect known as the Millerite Adventists, many of whom had given away their earthly possessions in anticipation of the end of time.

Not that the 1,000 physicists and engineers from 100 institutes in 30 countries working at Cern were disappointed. They generated dense sub-atomic fireballs with temperatures of over 10 trillion degrees, a million times hotter than the centre of the sun.

Most of us have no idea what scientists will now do with the vast database of information on the resulting soup of quarks and gluons which was momentarily created. But that humankind has been able to reproduce conditions not seen for 13 billion years – and has survived – seems achievement enough in itself.

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