Tuesday, September 9, 2008

End of the World or a New Dawn

They are going to fire up that particle accelerator called Large Hadron Collider (LHC) [no dude , it is not hard on] on Wednesday and many people are afraid it might be the end of the world. Why ? Because mini black holes will be created in that experiment.

I don't think the earth will be destroyed but yes, it will be an end of an era in human evolution (yes dude, I'm sure it is not hard on collider).

In the most complex scientific experiment ever undertaken, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be switched on Wednesday, accelerating sub-atomic particles to nearly the speed of light before smashing them together.

Deep underground on the border between France and Switzerland, the world's largest particle accelerator complex will explore the world on smaller scales than any human invention has explored before.

The test, which takes place Wednesday, is a major step toward seeing if the the immense experiment will provide new information about the way the universe works, or why it is there in the first place and what is the basic building block.

The collider consists of a particle accelerator buried more than 300 feet near Geneva, Switzerland. About $10 billion (yes, that could have given you many a hard ons instead of just one hadron) have gone into the accelerator's construction, the particle detectors and the computers, said Katie Yurkewicz, spokewoman for CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is host to the collider.

In the coming months, the collider is expected to begin smashing particles into each other by sending two beams of protons around the tunnel in opposite directions. It will operate at higher energies and intensities in the next year, and the experiments could generate enough data to make a discovery by 2009, experts say.

Although renowned British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has bet 100 dollars (70 euros) that this experiment will not find an elusive particle seen as a holy grail of cosmic science. (you think those guys spent $10 billion to win $ 100!!!)

Experts say the collider has the potential to confirm theories about questions that physicists have been working on for decades including the possible existence of extra dimensions. They also hope to find a theoretical particle called the Higgs boson, which has never been detected, but would help explain why matter has mass.

The collider will recreate the conditions of less than a millionth of a second after the Big Bang, when there was a hot "soup" of tiny particles called quarks and gluons, to look at how the universe evolved, said John Harris, U.S. coordinator for ALICE, a detector specialized to analyze that question.

Why should the layperson care about this particular exploration? Years ago, when electrons were first identified, no one knew what they were good for, but they have since transformed our entire economy.

Fears have emerged that the collider could produce black holes that could suck up anything around them -- including the whole Earth. Such fears prompted legal actions in the U.S. and Europe to halt the operation of the Large Hadron Collider, alleging safety concerns regarding black holes and other phenomena that could theoretically emerge.

Although physicists acknowledge that the collider could, in theory, create small black holes, they say they do not pose any risk. A study released Friday by CERN scientists explains that any black hole created would be tiny, and would not have enough energy to stick around very long before dissolving.

On Wednesday the first protons will be injected into a 27-kilometre (16.9-mile) ring-shaped tunnel, straddling the Swiss-French border at the headquarters of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Physicists have long puzzled over how particles acquire mass. In 1964, a British physicist, Peter Higgs, came up with this idea: there must exist a background field that would act rather like treacle.

The standard quip about the Higgs is that it is the "God Particle" -- it is everywhere but remains frustratingly elusive. This is what they are hoping to find.

And yes, it might give some scientists a hard on if they find it. Good luck!

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