Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1/3rd Of A Second After Big Bang

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.


ab45yui said...

I'm actually taking an Astronomy course right now, so I recognize your enthusiasm, lol.  I think I am probably going to be more like Capernicius (sp?) because of my upbringing in church.  But I do keep an open mind that we're not the only life...I just don't limit God that way.  If he can build one world whether it was thru the use of "Big Bang" or some other method, then why can't He make others.  It will be interesting at the end of the day to have a lot of our questions answered.  

wwfbison said...

I have been reading and reading about the LHC since I became aware of it.  At first it was out of curiousity because there were those who said it could or would destroy our planet and then it simply became mind boggling to me.  I truly wish I understood more about mass & matter and what you are saying...but I just can't grasp much of this.   Someone at work told me they had a breakdown of some sort and had to put the project on hold until it was repaired. He said this is evidence God does not want this experiment to happen and it is a sign to stop.  He believes it will cause a black hole & suck our planet into oblivion & supports the lawsuit filed to stop the experiment.  I don't think some of the brightest minds in the world are out to destroy our planet.  When are they scheduled to shoot both beams?  I love reading about this Cathy, I just need a basic beginners course to understand it better ~ it is so frustrating!!!

sdrogerson said...

Oh I had written a long comment and wiped it by mistake.

I watched it all live on launch day and it was exciting sadly one of the rings is malfunctioning at the moment and then there will be the winter shut down. Still patience is a virtue in Physics.

Is it true (the odd rumour reaches here) that some US folk are upset by this?

a) because of God
b) because of a black hole swallowing the planet.

This isn't serious is it? Or is it? If it is that would really scare me.

Nobody can be that daft can they?

luddie343 said...

Lisa and Stuart:  Yes, you have valid points but absolutely nothing to fear.  For billions of years nature has generated what amounts to over a million LHC experiments on Earh and the planet is still here, the stars and galaxies are in position.  And this will be under controlled lab conditions.  As for the black hole fear - a natural astronomical black hole is far heavier than anything LHC could produce.  Those speculations about microscopic black holes at LHC refer to particles produced by the collision of a pair of protons with the energy of a flying mosquito!  BUT - your hearing of these questions is valid, still the physics dictates that it will be impossible for MBH (micro black holes) to be produced at LHC based mainly on solid gravitational truths.  However, any such particle would disintegrate immediately, hence black holes would not have the needed time to accrue matter (a boson is unstable, they decay)  I know you're thinking well what about cosmic ray hits, but since that's been occuring on Earth so long and we're still in orbit, no fears there either.  Hang tight, be patient as they work out the small initial kinks (expected) and I know God is incredibly proud that his favored creation are using their vast complex brains to perform such a feat.  There was once a time people hid in caves because they were convinced God was angry and would punish them - they were hearing nothing but thunder.  God was not angry then and isn't now - God I believe, as always, is with us.  

sdrogerson said...

sorry for typing a comment that could be misunderstood.

What scares me is not this exciting project but that some  folk in the US are worried about black holes destroying the earth or this being a challenge to God.

This isn't a position held by anyone with a brain plugged in - is it?

queensw33tie said...

Sounds dangerous but interesting. Even if they do figure it out, I'm sure it'll be to complex for my little mind to Have a great day.


swmpgrly said...


brainwhispers said...

Science is cool.
I wonder where that man is going on his little scooter thingy.
Maybe he is off to get some milk from the shops.

gazker said...

Oh Cathy, you are a dream Girl! I loved this blog. I sat in my car in a traffic jam listening to BBC radio four, the morning the Hedron collidor was switched on. You could see who was listening in other cars because when the atoms collided (we're still here people), everyone clapped. Your simple explantation about the big shot lady was brilliant. One thing I can't grasp is, as big shot gathers mass around her, you would she'd slow down, not be harder to stop?
The day after the collidor was switched on it broke down and by the way, it was'nt God as some one suggested (give me a break) it was a mechanical fault. It won't be ready now till next year for the other experiments.

jmorancoyle said...

    Interesting entry. I enjoyed the explanation because I really haven't seen much of anything other than the fact that the experiment went off and we survived.

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