Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Large Hadron Collider Is Working

Tunell Polk
Eng. 122
Prof. B. Kern


A New York Times article by Dennis Overbye reports that the Large Hadron collider, the most expensive and ambitious science project in history, is finally operating properly. He states,
"following two false starts due to electrical failures, protons whipped to more than 99 percent of the speed of light and to record-high energy levels of 3.5 trillion electron volts apiece raced around a 17-mile underground magnetic track outside of Geneva a little after 1 p.m. local time. They crashed together inside apartment-building sized detectors designed to capture every evanescent flash and fragment from microscopic fireballs thought to hold insights into the beginning of the universe." The project is reported to have cost 10 billion dollars, and take 16 years to build. The physicists hope to discover information about the origins of the universe and how particles reacted at the moment of the big bang. Overbye states, "Among their top goals are finding the identity of the dark matter that shapes the visible cosmos and the strange particle known as the “Higgs,” which is thought to imbue other particles with mass. Until now, these have been tantalizingly out of reach." It is thought that 90 percent of all the matter in the known universe is invisible dark matter, though scientist do not yet know its origin. The Higgs-Boson, a.k.a. the "GOD particle," is a particle theorized by scientist to exist, and may hold the key to the origin of mass in the universe. It has yet to be observed.

I think this is wonderful news, especially for those scientists who have spent 16 years on the project. I am fascinated by the science of physics and have been waiting on good news from the people at
CERN since the beginning of the 40 million dollar repair that had to be done last fall. It will be difficult for scientist to spot the Higgs, but observing it can give scientists valuable information, and evidence to help to solidify theories on sub-atomic particles. It will be interesting to see if the scientists find what they're looking for.

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