The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the most complex physics experiment ever constructed. Located underground, straddling the French-Swiss border, the 27 km-long ring of electromagnets is designed to accelerate protons and heavier charged particles to speeds close to that of the speed of light. The LHC is located at, and managed by, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
As of March 30, 2010, the LHC began high energy collisions, attaining collision energies of 7 TeV, three times higher than ever before.
What will it do?
At strategic points around the accelerator ring, counter-rotating "beams" of accelerated particles are steered to collide head-on by the most precise electromagnet technology on Earth. At these collision points, huge particle detectors are located to track and measure the resulting high-speed smash-up.
When the LHC runs at full capacity, the energy conditions shortly after the Big Bang will be recreated for a very short period of time. This is the reason why the LHC is often dubbed the "Big Bang machine."