LONDON: If critics are to be believed, the end of the universe will begin coming Wednesday when a Welsh miner's son launches the world's biggest scientific experiment to know how the universe was born.
The well-known Welshman physicist, Lyn Evans, dubbed Evans the Atom, will this week switch on a giant particle accelerator designed to unlock the secrets of the Big Bang.
On Wednesday, Evans will fire up the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile-long doughnut-shaped tunnel that will smash sub-atomic particles together at nearly the speed of light.
Built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the collider lies beneath the French-Swiss border, near the institution's headquarters in Geneva, at depths ranging from 170 feet to 600 feet.
The aim of the 4.4 billion-pound (over $7.7 billion) experiment is to recreate the conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang - the birth of the universe - and provide vital clues to the building blocks of life.
It will track the spray of particles thrown out by collisions in a search for the elusive Higgs Boson, a theoretical entity that supposedly lends weight, or mass, to the elementary particles. So important is this mysterious substance that it has been called the "God Particle".
Scientists also hope to shed some light on the invisible material that exists between particles - dubbed "dark matter" as no one knows what it really is - which make up most of the universe.
But a handful of scientists believe that the experiment could create a shower of unstable black holes that could "eat" the planet from within, and they are launching last-ditch efforts to halt it in the courts.
One of them, Otto Rossler, a retired German chemist, said he feared the experiment may create a devastating quasar - a mass of energy fuelled by black holes - inside the earth. Jets emanating from it would grow and catastrophes such as earthquakes and tsunamis would occur at the points they emerged from the earth.
"The weather will change completely, wiping out life, and very soon the whole planet will be eaten in a magnificent scenario - if you could watch it from the moon. A Biblical Armageddon. Even cloud and fire will form, as it says in the Bible."
He said that attempts were still being made in the European Court of Human Rights to halt the experiment on the grounds that it violated the right to life. The court has, however, already rejected calls for a temporary delay in the project.
Walter Wagner, an American scientist who has been warning about the dangers of particle accelerators for 20 years, is awaiting a ruling on a lawsuit he filed a fortnight ago in his home state of Hawaii.
Evans, however, is dismissive of the "doom-mongers".
"There are thousands of scientists around the world who have been preparing this machine and they know what they are talking about, unlike these guys," he is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.