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On a recent episode of "South Park," Mr. Marsh steals a particle accelerator magnet so his son, Stan, can win the Pinewood Derby. The magnet's power results in an alien encounter, and chaos ensues.

While the magnets at the real-life Large Hadron Collider may not reach extraterrestrials, scientists hope they will help lead to encounters with never-before-seen phenomena and answers to fundamental questions about the universe.

The collider, the world's most powerful particle accelerator, is being repaired after an electrical failure in September. Once it is fixed, the collider will circulate beams of particles with unprecedented energy. When these particles crash into each other, the resulting activity may help scientists figure out why the submicroscopic stuff that makes up our universe behaves the way it does. Read full article »

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