there is water underground.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Smashy Smashy

Earlier this month the world’s largest particle accelerator went online in Europe. It consists of a ring of superconducting magnets 17 miles in circumference that must be kept at a few degrees below absolute zero. The magnets are designed to move protons around the ring at speeds approaching the speed of light, eventually smashing the protons into one another. This collision at near-light-speed will hopefully produce evidence of the Higgs Boson, one of the elemental particles of the universe that has been theorized but never observed. It’s amazing that humans have constructed something so immense in order to detect something so minuscule. The Higgs Boson is one of the strangely-named particles (it’s actually not that strange – the scientist who theorized it was named Higgs – but there are particles called the Charm Quark and the Gluon (which has to be the one that makes everything stick together)) that are described as having “colors,” “flavors,” and “direction.” These tiny little particles are thought to be the building blocks for atoms, and therefore they’re supposed to be the most basic things in the universe.

I have no idea what the hell I’m writing about, but I hope that I’m composed primarily of red gluons. Anyway, this experiment – many years and billions of dollars in the making – will hopefully reveal some more details about life, the universe, and everything. I find it interesting that there is a contingent of people out there who believe that when the particle accelerator is brought up to full capacity, it will create miniature black holes and rip the world apart. This notion – other than sounding like a really cool premise for a science fiction movie – seems absurd. But really, what the hell do I know? It’ll probably generate more questions than answers, which is the sign of a good experiment. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll give scientists some insight as to how to start working on beaming technology. But my guess is that we won’t be any closer to knowing why, inexplicably, all day Wednesday you keep thinking it’s Thursday… and Thursday comes and you’re alright again.


Blogger Howland said...

Look at it this way, if it does create a tiny black hole, Europe will be probably be most devastated by it, devaluing the Euro and making trips across the Atlantic more affordable for Joe Six-Packs like myself. A win for the people! SMASH AWAY!

2:10 PM  

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