Large Hadron Collider no longer a threat to mankind

Written by Ced Kurtz on .

And it's all thanks to Tom Hanks, who has been given the honor of starting the thing up when they get it fixed.

The giant underground machine, the world's most powerful particle accelerator, suffered a catastrophic malfunction soon after being switched on amid a fanfare of publicity last September.

A faulty electrical connection led to a leak of super-cold helium causing damage estimated at £20 million to the device, operated by Cern, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva.

As a result, 53 of the magnets used to accelerate subatomic particles around the machine's 17-mile circular tunnel underneath the Franco-Swiss border have had to be brought to the surface for repair or cleaning.

Hanks was approached about the move while filming his latest film Angels and Demons in which he plays a Harvard University academic investigating a plot to annihilate the Vatican with 0.25 grams of antimatter stolen from Cern.

Steve Myers, Cern's director of accelerators and technology, told Nature News that he gave the actor a tour of the laboratory on February 13 and asked him if he would return for the switch-on, to which the actor agreed.

We had a discussion down here in the underground bunker and we decided that Hanks' character in Road to Perdition is the closest he's ever come to playing a bad guy, so we feel much better about the LHC with him at the controls.

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