The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of protons charged with very high energy. Its main purpose is to explore the validity and limitations of the Standard Model, the current theoretical picture for particle physics. It is theorized that the collider will confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, the observation of which could confirm the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model, and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass.
The LHC was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and lies underneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. It is funded by and built in collaboration with over eight thousand physicists from over eighty-five countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories. The LHC is already operational and is presently in the process of being prepared for collisions. The first beams were circulated through the collider on 10 September 2008, and the first high-energy collisions are planned to take place after the LHC is officially unveiled on 21 October.
Although a few individuals have questioned the safety of the planned experiments in the media and through the courts, the consensus in the scientific community is that there is no conceivable threat from the LHC particle collisions. As of 11 September, the LHC has not yet destroyed the Earth.