Monday, November 23, 2009

LHC (Large Hadron Collider) Back Online and Ready to Simulate Big Bang

" 'Big Bang'" machine set to yield surprises"
Reuters (November 23, 2009)

"Scientists could begin garnering information on the origins of the universe in the coming months as the world's biggest particle collider starts moving to full power next year, a project leader said Monday.

"But it may not be until 2011 that what is dubbed the "Big Bang Machine" -- the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) -- straddling the Swiss-French border at the CERN research center will hit its top velocity, physicist Steve Myers added.

"The LHC -- a nearly $10 billion experiment involving scientists worldwide -- was relaunched at the weekend after a technical accident 14 months ago brought it to a halt just nine days after its start-up...."

(from Denis Balibouse, via Reuters, used w/o permission)
The Linac 2 (Linear Accelerator 2) is pictured at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva October 16, 2008.

"...The key aim of the project is to discover how the universe took shape after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago that spilled out matter at vast speeds and energies that eventually became suns, stars, planets and then life itself.

"But what Myers called "new surprises in physics that we can really measure" will probably have to wait until the particle beams can be collided at the LHC's maximum force.

" 'We will be contemplating reaching that ultimate energy in 2011,' he said...."

That "technical accident" involved, it said in the news, bread crumbs. (November 6, 2009) Looks like they've got that problem solved.

I suppose the resources used for CERN's Large Hadron Collider could be used for other worthwhile projects: like bird feeders. But I'm curious about what the physicists will learn about subatomic particles, how space-time is put together, and what happens when really big energies get concentrated in really small volumes.

As I wrote earlier this month, "Pay attention, and a person will never have a dull moment."


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