(Roughly) Daily

Answering the really big questions about the really small…

Under the Franco-Swiss border, near Geneva, there’s a new tunnel, seven miles long– home to The Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.  Its first full test is scheduled for later this month; it’s “official” debut, for September 20, with full operation before the end of the year.

Among the hopes for the LHC, the production of “the Higgs boson”– a hypothetical particle whose observation would help confirm some of the predictions in the Standard Model of physics (and the inspiration for a nifty throw pillow that readers will recall was the subject of an earlier missive).  The LHC may also produce other currently theoretical particles– perhaps most notably, microscopic black holes… a prospect that some observers have theorized could threaten the earth (as in “could swallow it up”), a fear that CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which manages the LHC) has categorically and repeatedly denied.

But on top of everything else, the LHC is an extraordinary sight:

See more of this remarkable facility here.

And lest it be said that physicists have no rhythm, check out the “Large Hadron Rap” here.

(Thanks, MH-H, for the pointers to the pix and the video.)

As we unpack our microscopes, we might wish a careful happy birthday to Phoolan Devi, an Indian “dacoit” (armed robber), who was popularly known as “The Bandit Queen” and “The Robin Hood of India,” and who was born on this date in 1963.  After years of imprisonment for her crimes, Phoolan ran for and was elected to India’s Parliament in 1993, a seat she held when she was assassinated (ostensibly by a grievant seeking revenge for one of her earlier exploits) in 1996.

Phoolan, on the cover of her book

Written by LW

August 10, 2008 at 1:01 am

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