Archive for the ‘particle physics’ Tag

LHC about to come online

MSNBC’s science editor, Alan Boyle has a good story on the soon-to-be activated Large Hadron Collider, “Super-smasher targets massive mystery.”  It explains what scientists hope to find with the LHC in a bit more detail, albeit less musical aplomb, than the LHC rap.

Within a few years we might know why matter has mass, why there isn’t more antimatter in the universe, and whether or not there are more than three spacial dimensions!  Multiple spacial dimensions have long been predicted by string theorists, with nine or 10 being the most commonly hypothesized number of dimensions, but some think the number could be over 20. 

To date, there has been no experimental confirmation of string theory, which actually makes it a hypothesis and not a theory, as the terms are used by scientists.  It has proven to be very elegant mathematically and on paper, but has not made any empirically verified predictions that weren’t also predicted by other theories.  The discovery of other spatial dimensions would lend significant support to string theory.

Boyle mentions concerns that some people have that the LHC might destroy the Earth.  Scientists have determined that this is not possible, for a variety of reasons.  But if you still have concerns, the International Earth Destruction Advisory Board (IEDAB), an independent scientific institution which monitors the current status of the Earth and the number of times it has been destroyed, will be monitoring the situation.  On their site you can sign up to be alerted via e-mail if the Earth is destroyed, or you can check the current Earth Destruction Alert level.   Current status:

Current Earth-Destruction Status

As of this writing, we are in code green, indicating the Earth has not been destroyed.  In the event that it is destroyed, the EDA will change to code red.

Boyle will have more to say about the LHC in the coming days; if interested, be sure to check it out.   This is an exciting time for science and our understanding of the universe!

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Large hadron collider rap

The world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, is scheduled to begin operations next week. The device will search for fundamental subatomic particles and hopefully will be able to tell us more about the every early universe.

It is also a good subject for a rap. Kate McAlpine, a 23-year old graduate of the University of Michigan and a science writer who works at CERN, which operates the collider, wrote a rap about the $4.6 billion machine; the video has been viewed over 750,000 times on YouTube in the past few weeks. Here it is:

Physicists report that the rap is scientifically accurate and I think it actually can help people understand the purpose of the LHC and what particle physicists are up to these days. It is very likely that we’ll see some significant breakthroughs in physics in the coming decade, as described in the song. How exciting!