Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Reading: RUMOR - Large Hadron Collider Finds God Particle (Whatever That Is)

lhcThe Large Hadron Collider occupies a unique place in popular culture. Most of us have heard about CERN’s massive scientific endeavor in some capacity, yet few of us actually know how it works, why it works, or what it’s even supposed to be doing. All any layman knew when they were turning on the Giant Machine With A Crazy Name was what they’d heard on NPR: this thing could cause a black hole!

Then it broke. Then they turned it back on. Still no black hole. But now there’s something more exciting. Rumors!

The Telegraph is reporting that the LHC may have found the Higgs boson, or “God Particle.” According to the Standard Model of particle physics, the Higgs is an as-yet-unconfirmed particle that gives mass to atomic building blocks. (If you’d like a headache, you can read more about the Higgs boson on Wikipedia.) The LHC primary objective is to confirm the existence of the Higgs (and other neat new things for scientists to debate over) by smashing particles together or something and oh god my head’s starting to hurt.

Of course, this discovery of the Higgs may be a false alarm. Manchester University physicist Brian Cox said on Twitter, “The Higgs rumours are from an internal, unchecked ATLAS document. Very bad science to leak it.”

I love that this part of science can have rumors and leaks. What if the LHC straight-up finds God? Will anyone tell us? Will there be a cover up? It’s the stuff of science-fiction.

You can read more about the LHC and this microcosm of sci-fi nonfiction here and here. You can even follow CERN on Twitter.

[source: Telegraph]