Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The LHC Is Super Duper FLY!!!
This nerd rap is probably something that will amuse only scientists and those hardcore sci-fi fans who follow serious science. I thought it was hilarious, as I've probably learned more than I'll ever need to know about the Large Hadron Collider due to my subscription to Scientific American. I've probably read three to four full-length articles on the LHC in Scientific American over the past year -- and each time it left my head spinning!
Anyway, for those who don't know, the LHC has been under construction at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) for the past decade, although plans for the collider were first realized way back in the 80s. If anyone has read Dan Brown's Angels & Demons, you may remember CERN and the particle accelerator there having an integral presence in the novel. CERN is housed near Geneva and extends underground through both Switzerland and France. It receives funding from several major nations, and gathers the best scientific minds in the world into one place for the sake of advancing mankind's knowledge of the universe. Très cool!
The LHC is set to be officially revealed next month, and when it is fully up and running will run a variety of particle physics tests, including proving the existence of the Higgs boson and uncovering the secrets behind some of the fundamental forces in the universe, such as electromagnetism. The LHC will be the linchpin of several different experiments running simultaneously, including ATLAS and CMS, among others. But the one I have the most excitement for is ALICE : or, A Large Ion Collider Experiment, which will smash lead ions together at close to the speed of light, studying the resultant debris for quarks and gluons.
Basically, once the LHC goes online, it will be the fulfillment of many a physicist's wet dreams. I'm not a physicist, or anywhere close to being one. But I'm giddy as to what this may mean for the field of speculative fiction. Some of this stuff has already been theorized before, of course. But there's nothing like getting cold, hard confirmation from the lab to get the imagination buzzing.
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