Well, this is it. In the early hours of tomorrow morning, scientists at the controls of titanic machines situated in mighty hollowed-out caverns and tunnels deep beneath Switzerland will begin to unleash forces so vast and complex as to tax the very limits of human comprehension. The mighty Large Hadron Collider, most powerful matter-rending machine ever assembled by the human race, will once again begin to shoot beams of particles around its superfluid vacuum-pipe lightspeed doughnut.
Following last year's disastrous electrical crackup and associated liquid-helium explosion which put the mighty machine out of action until now, CERN subterranean-boffinry chiefs have gone for a lower-profile approach than we saw last year. The actual planned time of restart has not been released to the media, and the splendidly comical global hysteria seen in September 2009 has failed to materialise.
We thought that was a shame, particularly as we have it on the authority of no less a boffin than Dr Sergio Bertolucci - one of the top scientists at CERN - that the LHC may in fact create a gateway to other dimensions. Through this dimensional portal might come "something", according to Bertolucci - or through it things from our own native four-dimensional universe might pass into some mysterious other continuum.
CERN may not have released the restart schedule to the press, but in a characteristic move they have posted on the internet where anyone can read it. Keen amateur LHC-watcher Chris Stephens has done so, and thus we know that beam commissioning - that is, the first beams to go all round the collider tracks - starts on the midnight-to-eight shift tomorrow morning (with "splash events", it says here).
So, while the world waits for the mighty machine to fire up, we thought we'd bring together a little compilation of your thoughts on the matter - many, many of you have commented and written in. Naturally, this being the internet rather than the Royal Society or somewhere, the debate has tended to focus on the likelihood of the LHC destroying the Earth or perhaps entire universe and/or the various kinds of dimensional-portal invasions which might occur.
Commentard Valerion flagged up the upsetting notion that the Collider might suddenly replace the present universe with another and different one:
The problem I have
Is the whole "recreating the conditions just after the big bang" thing.
The last time that happened, as I recall, the entire Universe sort of came into being and proceeded to grow continually outward at, presumably, the speed of light.
Seems to me that starting off another one of those in Switzerland could be considered A Bad Thing.