Build an $8 billion machine that forms a 17-mile circle 300 feet underground and that may reveal secrets from the origins of the universe, and you're bound to provoke curiosity.
The machine in question is the Large Hadron Collider, the goal of which is to reproduce the conditions from just fractions of a second after the Big Bang. It'll do so by slamming together subatomic particles at about the speed of light, with scientists poised for a glimpse at the results.
In Sunday night's season premiere of the CBS news program 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft talked to a number of the scientists involved--one reckoned that half of all U.S. particle physicists are there--and ventured underground for a closer look at the one-of-a-kind machinery built by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. (CNET News is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.)
Below are some clips from the 60 Minutes story:
See inside the Large Hadron Collider: Get the lowdown on the machinery in the underground facility and the kinds of questions it might help answer, such as "What is the origin of mass?"
How the Large Hadron Collider works: Animation shows the scope of the facility and how the subatomic particles will zip along at the speed of light before colliding with each other.
Meet the Americans working on the Large Hadron Collider: Steve Kroft talks to three scientists, one from MIT, one from the University of Chicago, and one from the University of Michigan.
How will we benefit from the Large Hadron Collider? Practical results might be a ways off, but they'll be coming, and they'll be shared equally among all the countries that have participated.