Beneath the French-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider will help scientists seek answers to some of the most profound questions about the universe. Beyond this lofty goal, though, particle accelerators can be used for decidedly more down-to-Earth projects -- like fighting cancer, cleaning up industrial waste and even shrink-wrapping your Thanksgiving turkey. More than 17,000 particle accelerators are in operation around the world, used for radial tires, computer chips and 3-D images of molecules, among other tasks.
Until the LHC finally gets up to full speed, Brookhaven National Lab's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) remains the world's most powerful heavy ion smasher. And on Monday, they showed off some of that power by announcing that a recent collision resulted in the hottest matter ever recorded.