“It has really been a dream come true for all of us.” Aranya Choudhury probably never imagined he would stand inside the most advanced high-energy physics research facility ever created. The Large Hadron Collider became operational on 10th September 2008, and Choudhury, 20 years old, was one of 11 Indian undergraduate students selected to spend 8 to 13 weeks there as an intern, rubbing shoulders with some of the brightest minds of our time.
For the uninitiated, LHC is essentially a 27-kilometre-long tunnel concealed beneath Switzerland. It’s the flagship project of CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) and is designed to smash the tiniest known particles into each other with the intention of, among other things, recreating the conditions present at what we call The Big Bang. As a layman, perusing documents and articles explaining why it came into being, who brought it to fruition and what potential discoveries it may trigger visions of a sentient technology that could finally bring about the human apocalypse à la the Terminator or Matrix films. “The Large Hadron Collider begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, December 7th. In a panic, we try to pull the plug.” Something like that.