I know I've already drooled all over about the upcoming LHC (Large Hadron Collider) but imagine this experiement. It's been tried before, at Fermilab in Illinois, and continually at CERN, but never with this much power. Imagine a picture of what the universe may've looked like less than half a second after being! The LHC at CERN is the most ambitious scientific undertaking ever. The results will change our fundamental knowledge of the universe.
This is particle physics, searching for the relation of mass to matter (what we're made of, what all things are made of) and also a way to find out why our universe is expanding, which would mean that at one time all the known universe HAD to be in one place at one time. We'll have answers. Proof of a "big bang". Finally.
When these protons are super-conducted through a circular magnetic vacuum, from either end, (similar to conditions in outer space) they'll smash together and immediately spill out images (simplistic way to describe - Picture a giant hollow bagel that's hasn't completely closed up. Two open ends. We'll be sending particles through each end at the same exact time, 670 million miles an hour (or 99.99% the speed of light) where they'll smash together. The images will show us what the universe looked like less than a second after it was formed) But what'll happen is the pictures garnered will also tell us, most especially if the Higgs boson exists. "Higgs boson" is a particle thought to be that missing link in the standard model of the universe - thought to give mass to all matter - and sometimes called "the God particle". Higgs might give other particles mass. Mass is an inherent characteristic of matter. Matter is made of molecules of atoms. We know how the particles get their mass - but WHY is there matter? What IS matter? What makes a thing a thing? No one knows how mass and matter truly interact.
If particles get their mass from interacting with the "empty space" Higgs field, that will prove the Higgs boson particle exists. This discovery is no less important than knowing the constituents or parts of matter and the forces that are amongst them. We'll find out with the LHC.
Steven Hawking on visit
So I guess if I were to explain all this in the simplest fashion, there's an analogy being used that does it well:
Imagine you're at a party, alot of people there, all evenly spaced out in the room. Then some big shot lady enters through the door. Those nearest the door will gather around her first, and as she moves through the room, they'll still be staying close to her (she "attracts" those closest to her) Those she moves away from will go back to what they were doing. So as she keeps moving through the room, she gains momentum, always an indication of mass. She's now harder to slow down because of the crowd with her. And once she's stopped, it's harder to get her going again.
This theory supposes that the universe is made up of a kind of latticework (the room of people), and it's called the Higgs field. The question of mass has always been a very puzzling one, and this Higgs boson (the big shot lady) is that single one piece missing from the equation. So we have to find it.
This is our universe, our origin, it's where we came from before being nursed and nurtured in the oceans of the planet, long before Pangea broke off into separate land masses. This is OUR UNIVERSE! We have to know, we SHOULD know how it was formed, once, for all, no arguments.
Let's be proud we've arrived at a stage where we can peek in at the beginning of the creation of all we know, we can SEE how it would've appeared, we'll understand what matter truly is. What WE....truly are. And will become.
Images courest of CERN, Hubble, and Chandra Space Scopes.