Yes, you read that right. Billionth of a second.
The European particle collider will work, under controlled conditions, with energies literally billions of times hotter than the sun’s core, and most physicists think that the collider, at its highest speeds, may even generate miniscule black holes that will quickly decompose (and so supposedly not constitute a threat to the planet).
Brian Cox is a young CERN affiliated physicist who gives a very clear explanation of what the particle accelerater is, and what it is, exactly, that physicists are looking to produce at such high energy levels. (Answer: Higgs bosons, the “God particle” or “God field” that makes the mass of all other particles possible. Scientists want to know about the field that makes our very experience of material existence happen.) The photogenic Cox, I bet, will be the next Carl Sagan or Brian Greene, doing science programs for public television and pronouncing on scientific matters before lay audiences. In any case, here he is: