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The only use of the Large Hadron Collider anyone cares about is finding the Higgs particle. But the LHC's opening has been delayed. What if someone else gets there first?

By Philip Ball   June 2007

The great boson race Most scientific instruments are doors to the unknown; that’s been clear ever since Robert Hooke made exquisite drawings of what he saw through his microscope. They are invented not to answer specific questions—what does a flea look like up close?—but for open-ended study of a wide range of problems. This is as true of the mercury thermometer as it is of the Hubble Space Telescope.

But the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), under construction at the European centre for high-energy physics (Cern) in Geneva, is different. Particle physicists point out that because it will smash subatomic particles…

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