September 11, 2008

I don't understand

There probably aren't a couple hundred people on the planet who really understand what's happening at the LHC in CERN this week.

I know I don't really.

I mean, I get what a particle accelerator is. I understand how it moves particles faster and faster in a ring using magnets to push everything forward. I even get that they have two rings moving particles in opposite directions until the collision.

I don't really understand how they track what happens.

I don't really understand how the interpret what those results tell them.

And I have no frickin' clue why any of the new agencies have been covering whatever this week's big experiment is.

But I am happy that it's cartoon fodder...

from my favorite webcomic (to which I can't link because they aren't all as school-appropriate as this one it)...

And from webcomic #2 in my heart...

And then there's the ever so simple explanation found here...


andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andrew said...

Alyssa said...

I also don't understand...why are they telling most of America about a particle accelerator when the people have no idea what it is and are telling their family

"Oh...yeah...I know what that is, they speed up particles."
"What does that do?"
"....Umm, go back to watching TV honey."

It's just kind of sad. Or people who have read Dan Brown's Angels & Demons and they think *A particle accelerator? OH NO! SOMEONE IS GOING TO BLOW UP THE VATICAN!!!*
I personally am waiting for that reaction. It would be amusing to watch.

G-Rob said...

I'm not able to really explain "how" they interpret what they are doing, but I can offer some very high level on "what" they are doing and perhaps "why".

It is about the study of the building blocks of our universe. And they want to understand what it is that exists on a sub-atomic level even more than we do today. To do that they use the particle accelerator to collide particles and hopefully split them apart into their building blocks and try to discover what those blocks are. OK, you may already know that, but it's my addition here.

Why is this important? Well, with this new LHC they *should* have the ability to recreate a real scenario that is supposedly very close to the big bang, out of which the universe was borne.

They want to understand what happened in the instant after that moment. What particles were possibly given off? And what happened with the matter and anti-matter that it may have produced? And what other possible sequences of events could have transpired if conditions had been even slightest bit different?

Here's a video about CERN in three minutes.

But beware they shatter a truth that many of us web guys have clung to for years...the internet was NOT truly invented by Al Gore.