Monday, November 15, 2010

"It's The End Of The World As We Know It"*

It's about time for an update on my favorite science project, the Large Hadron Collider. Seeing as we're all still here, I don't think I need to tell you that it hasn't opened up a black hole. Phew!

Actually, the LHC has been working so well that scientists have started smashing lead ions together instead of just plain-old protons. What does this mean? Basically, smashing lead ions at super speeds creates tiny Big Bangs that will shed some light on what happened immediately after the Universe was created by the big Big Bang. (Something you've all been dying to know about!)

Aside from the fact the the LHC studies very, very, very, very, very small particles, everything else about this project is big: the price tag ($10 billion), the number of countries involved (34), the temperatures created by the collisions (a million times hotter than the sun), the speed the particles move (just slightly below the speed of light), etc...

Scientists have not found the elusive Higgs boson (a.k.a. the God Particle) yet, but once they start smashing protons again in February, they hope that by the end of 2011 they will have proof that this particle exists.

Aside from unlocking the great mysteries of the Universe, the LHC could find additional dimensions beyond the four known ones. (What happened to the good old days when there were only three dimensions?)