CERN, which is the acronym in the French language for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has long been the target of fantastical conspiracy theories.
So it should come as no surprise that on July 5, 2022, when scientists at CERN fired up the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) after three years of upgrades and maintenance work, some conspiracy theorists would fire up, too.
For example, one Twitter user surmised that CERN was opening up a "portal" of astrological proportions, stating obliquely that said portal had to do with an early summer sky show featuring a rare planetary alignment.
The text of the post reads:
Be ready for July 5th everyone. That’s all I’m saying. Protect your energy. Be alert. Don’t do things that lower your vibration, your energy, or your focus. CERN will be opening a portal on July 5th. They began getting it ready when the planets aligned on June 24th. This will be
Other posts echoed the same sentiment, including a widely viewed story on the video platform TikTok in which the user claimed the LHC was opening a portal to the future — all while the theme song to the Netflix science-fiction series "Stranger Things" played (its plot line features an alternate dimension). On another video platform, YouTube, another user agreed there was a portal opening; however, in this version ,the portal was to hell.
Although it's true, as noted above, that CERN started operating the LHC after an extended period of downtime for upgrades and maintenance, there is no evidence that CERN opened a portal to the future, to hell, or any other dimension other than the current one, or that it opened up a black hole, as some have posited.
In a news release, CERN said the LHC's activities were remarkable on July 5 not for making the plot of "Stranger Things" a reality, but for "recording high-energy collisions at the unprecedented energy of 13.6 TeV."
CERN is a research facility outside Geneva, Switzerland, and on its campus lies the LHC, which is comprised of 17 miles of electro-magnetic tunnel infrastructure, where scientists crash parts of atoms into each other in an effort to make discoveries about the properties of the universe. In 2012 CERN researchers identified the Higgs boson, described by The New York Times as "a long-sought particle, which imparts mass to all the other particles in the universe."
In its current run, scheduled through 2025, researchers hope to answer some of the universe's big, existential questions, as characterized by the Times: "Where did the universe come from? Why is it made of matter rather than antimatter? What is the “dark matter” that suffuses the cosmos? How does the Higgs particle itself have mass?"
Fascinating as this might sound, the LHC has never had a shortage of attention from conspiracy theorists. For example, in 2016 some internet users misappropriated a photographer's image of a storm over Switzerland to falsely claim that CERN opened a portal into another dimension. Another rumor, again spread in 2016, falsely stated that a video depicted a human sacrifice at the facility.