Yesterday morning, a major historic event took place, though the nature of it was technical enough to be relatively inaccessible to most, so the story wasn’t exactly front page news.

Scientists fired up the Large Hadron Collider for the first time, sending beams of protons around its tunnel. Hopes for the coming experiment (involving circulating beams that will collide) are high; it has the potential to unlock the secrets of dark matter, the big bang, and possibly even the Higgs, or “God particle,” which is said to explain why particles have mass.

Early fears arose when some suggested the experiment might create black holes into which the planet would actually disappear. In NPR’s coverage, scientists explain why this is not a real concern, but the apocalyptic overtones and arguments remain part of the ongoing discussion. There are even jokes about it. To check on the status of this experiment and find out if the worst has happened, you can visit:

Michael Meade suggests that our usual way of conceptualizing time as a linear construct is only one possibility, that perhaps time is actually circular, such that end and beginning are the same thing. Perhaps we feel this instinctually. Perhaps we know, waiting for the collider to do its thing, that the beginning has something of the end in it, and drawing closer to one means we must at least brush by the other.

But the significant thing is this: The experiment is proceeding, and no credible effort is being made to prevent it from happening. As a collective human consciousness, we seem driven past all obstacles to seek that beginning point,  to understand where we come from.