Large Hadron Collider’s deep peek

The Large Hadron Collider certainly lives up to it’s name. (See the photo with the tiny hard-hat guys standing in the foreground.) Right there you have a puzzle: Why does it take a machine so big to study the nearly infinitesimally small particles scientists figure underlie our world?

Physicist Steve Giddings identified a bunch of things physicists expect to learn about with the behemoth recently in the LA Times.

  • Dark matter (the 80% of matter in the universe we can’t see…?)
  • Dark energy (the equally predominant and elusive form of energy that’s accelerating the expansion of the universe)
  • An extra dimension from supersymmetry (kind of mirror images of particles)
  • The Higgs particle (a particle that gives matter it’s, ah, matter) or,  alternatively, and even deeper structure to matter
  • Tiny black holes (they’ve raised fears of a runaway hole eating the Earth, but just the other day a physicist hypothesized that black holes may underlie all particles — go figure)
  • Finally, maybe a whole new basic force of nature may be discovered.

That’s quite an impressive — if esoteric — list of things to do. But to me it is also impressive as an meter of how may pretty fundamental things about the world we live in that aren’t nailed down tight. This is physics, the basic stuff! Makes me wonder how solid the ground — both terra firma and ideas — we stand on is. Is that a tremor I just felt beneath my feet?


3 Responses to “Large Hadron Collider’s deep peek”

  1. 1 Elisabeth
    January 23, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Cool! You could check out the podcast from Stuff You Should Know about the LHC.

  2. October 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I used to read you blog faithfully, I can’t believe I ever stopped! Now I remember what got me addicted in the first place.

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