Posted by: secretperson | September 10, 2008

LHC – Easy as 123

It’s been a succesful first day for the Large Hadron Collider.

This mighty machine, 17 miles around, acceles protons to nearly the speed of light using superconducting magnets cooled to a temperature less than deep space, it will then collide them at energies never before seen in a laboratory, recreating conditions milliseconds after the Big Bang. The people at CERN have invented a whole new conmputer system to analyse the data (called the GRID) just as they invented the World Wide Web to share data in the past.

They will investigate what gives particles mass (the famous Higgs Boson is the preferred candidate), whether every known particle has a super-partner, whether there exist tiny extra dimensions, why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe. Essentially how we came to be here.

There are those who proposed doomsday scenarios, and those who question the £4.4 billion cost (of which the UK’s contribution was about £500m), but this is surely worth it. A contribution of about 5 times what was suggested for those Titian paintings, to be part of the biggest science project since the space race (if not bigger)? The technological spin-offs alone, although not known yet, could be massive. How much could they have made from inventing the Web, which was given free to the world.

But more important than this is the human thirst for knowledge. This quest to know is what makes us human, we are born with in built curiosity and people wanting knowledge for the sake of knowledge has propelled us to the amazing position we are in today. I am not religious and claim no special mystical place in the world for humans, but we can percieve we are different. And this project and what it represents is all that sets humanity upon a pedestal.



  1. Just a thought:

    Perhaps the reason we don’t see the stars full of intelligent life is that each civilisation builds a LHC when it becomes clever enoug…..*

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