The main injector tunnel at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., where scientists monitor particle collisions so they can better understand physics.

Since earlier this year, the Large Hadron Collider underneath the border of Switzerland and France has caused 6 trillion particle collisions. It was scheduled to stop in early November.

The Large Hadron Collider, operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is an 18-mile-round racetrack 300 feet under the surface of the earth. It is the largest particle collider in the world, bypassing the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. In March, the first planned collisions took place between two 3.5 TeV particle beams, which set a new world record for the highest-energy man-made particle collisions.

Why is all of this important? Physicists hope the Large Hadron Collider will answer fundamental physics questions. These include questions concerning the basic laws governing the interactions and forces among elementary objects, and the deep structure of space and time, especially regarding the intersection of quantum mechanics and general relativity, where current theories and knowledge are unclear or break down altogether.

It's all pretty heady stuff, and I'm sure glad someone, and not me, is working on this. Maybe the results will cure me of a disease someday, help me get better gas mileage, or fix my television reception.

I read about the Large Hadron Collider about the same time I talked to our magazine's Influencer honorees. It was appropriate since I have been so impressed by the intellect of the three men we feature, starting on page 18. For the fourth year, TCP is honoring people who contribute to the concrete industry in outstanding ways. Looking back at the previous 13 honorees, I would not change a single one.

Still, there is something about this year's Influencers that leaves me awe-inspired. It's not just their intelligence, but also the passion and commitment each man exudes:

Godwin Amekuedi, director of quality assurance/technology, at Argos USA, warns producers to think green or be left behind. “Companies are adopting sustainable practices in minimizing energy use, reducing emissions, conserving water, minimizing waste, and increasing recycled content,” he says. “These companies will become preferred suppliers.”

In speaking of meeting with architects and designers, Canan D'Avela, principal with Western American Mineral and Chemical Consulting Co., explains, “When they sense you are doing your best to understand their problems, the relationship changes. You become a trusted source and an ally.”

David Goodyear, senior vice president at TY Lin International, gives his all to each bridge he designs, but even he seems humbled by one of his recent projects. “There have been a lot of bridges in that [size] range, but in terms of the profile of the job with Hoover Dam and the grandeur of the site, it's hard to top this one.”

And I don't know if we can top these three honorees. I hope their enthusiasm comes across in their stories.