Thursday, September 11, 2008

Physics is Phun

I don't know if you noticed this, but I'm a little bit of a nerd. So when I read a story like this, Large Hadron Collider Fired Up in God Particle Hunt I start thinking and start wishing I was a scientist so I could understand. I realize that you can't adequately explain some things in lei man's terms, but there are some doozies in this article:

a 9 billion dollar particle accelerator designed to simulate the big bang.

What? how does it simulate the big bang? What happened with the big bang, other then the noise? Did particles smash in to each other at a fast rate? is that why this simulates it?

Skeptics, who claim that the experiment could lead to the creation of a black hole capable of swallowing the planet, failed in a legal bid to halt the project at CERN.

Do bomb shelters work against black holes? How do you create a black hole? Is it the collision? Just the fact that the molecules are moving so quickly?

the experiment has the potential to confirm theories that physicists have been working on for decades including the possible existence of extra dimensions.

HOW? Why do quickly moving molecules confirm other dimensions? Other dimensions have long been an interesting idea to me... If it's near impossible to explain sight to someone that was born blind, maybe there are things we're missing. Still, I don't see how a fast molecule could prove that.

Although physicists acknowledge that the collider could, in theory, create small black holes, they say they do not pose any risk. A study released Friday by CERN scientists explains that any black hole created would be tiny, and would not have enough energy to stick around very long before dissolving...even if the black hole were stable, it could just pass through the Earth without being detected or without interacting at all. The gravitational force is so weak that you'd have to wait many, many, many, many, many lifetimes of the universe before one of these things could [get] big enough to even get close to being a problem.

A little black hole? Passing through the earth without being detected? Is that kind of like a baby tiger before she grows up and eats someone? Are little black holes cute? How cool would it be to say at your next cocktail party, "I might have created a black hole yesterday" or even "I stood in the same room as a black hole."? Are we going to read this article and kick ourselves "many, many, many, many, many lifetimes of the universe" from now?

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