Tag Archives: LHC

One point twenty-one gigawatts!!!

The LHC is on, running at 3.5 trillion electron volts (TeV). Protons have been smashed together, creating explosions that only house-sized sensors can feel. So far, no word of black holes eating all of France and Switzerland.

This does mean that the Tevatron at Fermilab, just outside of Chicago, has officially been out-gunned. I’ll bet the cows grazing above the Tevatron are pissed.

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Again? Really?

The Large Hadron Collider is going to be down for another year, namely 2012, so they can make it more robust and failsafe. In other words, they’re shutting it down for a year to avoid another 14-month shutdown like that of 2008-09. They won’t start running it at 7 trillion electron volts (that’s 1.21 gigawatts, more or less, right?) until 2013 at the earliest.

That gives the crafty, elusive Higgs boson a couple years to figure out its next obfuscation strategy.

CORRECTION: The LHC is scheduled to run at 7 TeV very soon (the Fermilab Tevitron tops out at 1 TeV).  After the year off, they plan to get it up to 14 TeV, as it was designed to do.

ANOTHER CORRECTION? The most recent thing I found says it is just now running at 3.5 TeV, and will get up to 7 TeV after the one year shutdown. But really, at this point, who cares? I know that the Pacific Ocean is a lot deeper than Lake Michigan, but if you drop me in the middle of either one, I ain’t makin’ it to shore.

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LHC: back from winter break

Here we go again.  Get ready for wacky hijinks!

The Large Hadron Collider was built to examine suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago, which many theorize occurred as an explosion known as the Big Bang.

“We’ve started up again,” said Sutton.


More on the LHC here.

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Swing your hips to the Apocalypto beat!

I’d like to admit upfront that much of this encapsulates an article in the Washington Post.  That said…

Kapow! It feels like a 1954 comic book, because I get to write about a group of people calling themselves “Atomic Scientists.” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group of people who don’t want the world to end, despite their invention of a technology that makes just such a thing possible, have set the Doomsday Clock back by one minute, from 11:55 to 11:54 pm. We are now 6 minutes away from annihilation, instead of 5.  But doesn’t it feel like more? I mean, if I have 5 minutes left until a meeting, I don’t think I can get nearly as much done as if I have 6 minutes left.

I can’t help but wonder if this is more of the same irrational exuberance (or maybe call it afterglow) about Bush leaving office that led to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama. But it’s still nice to know that somebody thinks things are getting better.

Of course, there are also many people who really do want the world to end in fire and brimstone, soon, because they assume such an event would validate their theological paradigm, and also because they’d get to go to heaven. As you probably guessed, they aren’t buying the Atomic Scientists’ line that we’ve taken a tiny step back from the brink.  Nobody likes to be wrong, do we? On their scorecard, which is much more thorough than a simple clock metaphor, but also much less snappy, we’re 1 point closer to Armageddon (on a 225 pt scale). This is because civil rights have been eroded by attempts to thwart terrorism. I guess if the TSA can see your junk on a x-ray machine, the end is nigh.  Strangely, the Large Hadron Collider doesn’t make the RaptureReady list of factors.

Do you have an apocalypse-predictive tool that you prefer to use?  Let me know about it in the comments.


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Getting in deeper and deeper over my head

If you, like me, are a layperson with a geek’s interest in science and access to the internet, you have probably heard about the latest antics of the Higgs boson.  Apparently, this self-hating god particle is travelling backward through time to our present in order to kill (or save) its grandfather with a baguette.  The good news is, we might be able to divine the will of the Higgs using a million-card deck, and save it the effort.  I’m not sure why we wouldn’t just take the next step and use a ouija board, but I guess that’s why I’m not a high-energy physicist.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, start here.  More on the baguette here.  Two interesting coincidences (or ARE they?) to note: the LHC was shut down last year after Holger Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya wrote the first paper suggesting it might never work because this universe will not allow it; and the baguette thing just happened last week.

What I find bizarre is how much the idea that nature-abhors-the-Higgs-boson-enough-to-prevent-its-discovery upsets other scientists.  Many seem to think it is just a hoax.  Some seem to think we’re devolving to reading entrails, and calling it science.  I guess it is likely that Nielsen and Ninomiya are not entirely serious.  Perhaps they wrote it to entertain us while they’ve been sitting around, waiting for something interesting to happen in particle physics, intending to sell the rights to Hollywood.  The title of the paper on arXiv.org brings to mind the recent, and brilliant, Onion satire of supposed Chinese industrial fasicsm.  But in the midst of the maelstrom of indignation from concerned physicists, and the background noise from relative (it’s all relative) beta-plusses like me, one Caltech physicist has the courage to ask us all to calm down.  And he has the cleverness to explain the concept in a way that I can almost understand.  Sean Carroll, I salute you for competing with phrasemongers.


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