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Science, Maths & Technology

Turning on the Large Hadron Collider

Updated Friday 5th September 2008

Follow the BBC Big Bang Day as we build up to the switch on of the Large Hadron Collider

Well, the physicists are getting excited, and the BBC are hyping it up , and has declared 10th September as 'Big Bang Day'  because that's when the first attempt will be made to circulate a beam of high energy protons in CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which straddles the French/Swiss border near Geneva. This is actually just another stage in a long commissioning process, and the first high energy collisions are not due to be attempted until October, but hey! 10 September is as good a day as any to celebrate a fantastic, and long awaited, new scientific tool.

I'm not a particle physicist, and for many years it has seemed to me that chasing after the ever more complex and abstruse families of fundamental particles was likely to be a never-ending struggle (perhaps I ought to refresh myself by studying the OU's modestly titled How the Universe Works that deals with fundamental particles and cosmology). However, if the LHC is able to create the so-called Higgs boson (the particle that imparts mass to matter) then that will be a tremendous step forward. On the other hand, if it does not find it, then decades of physics will need to be re-thought, and that will be a good thing too. Only by finding out the truth can science advance.

Don't hold your breath. I'd be suprised if any results are available soon. In the meantime, enjoy the BBC's Big Bang Day (the link leads you to where various rather surprising people comment (very well) on why they think this is important), and also the Hadron Rap!


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