Friends,As we all know, a few days back the Large Hadron Collider(LHC) started functioning. Before it started functioning there were rumors that the world would end because the LHC would create Black Holes that would gobble up the earth. Now the fact that I am writing this article and you are reading it( hopefully) means that nothing of that sort has happened.
Lots of VERITAS readers asked me to write an article about what the LHC is really trying to find and why that is significant. In this article I hope to tell you about these things. But in this article I will not go into the technology behind the LHC. I will only talk about the importance of LHC for Physics. First let’s look at the name : Large Hadron Collider. Hadrons are particles made up of quarks. So a Hadron is a collection of “smaller” particles. Some examples are the proton and the neutron. On the other hand some particles like photon and electron are not hadrons because they are not composed of smaller particles(quarks). So the LHC is the world’s biggest particle collider which aims to collide high energy beams of protons( which are Hadrons). But collide protons for what purpose? The aim is to collide protons so that Higgs Bosons is released. The word Boson means that the particle has integral value of spin( 0 or 1 or 2 etc). This is different from Fermions ( like electrons) which have half-integral spins( 1/2 etc). The Higgs Boson is a prediction of the Standard
Model of Particle Physics. Simply put, the Standard Model of Particle Physics is a theory that tries to describe three of the four fundamental forces of nature. It tries to explain and integrate electrodynamics, weak nuclear and strong nuclear forces. It does not try to explain Gravity. So the Higgs Boson is a prediction of the Standard Model. According to the standard model there exists a particle with spin 0 which is responsible for the property of mass. So things around us have mass because some particles like electrons and protons and neutrons have mass. And protons and electrons have mass because there exists a particle called the Higgs Boson. The LHC is trying to check if it actually exists and therefore if the Standard Model of Particle Physics is correct. The Higgs Boson has never been detected. In fact, it is the only particle in the Standard Model that has never been detected. It has never been detected because it can only be created ( in a form that enables it to be detected) at extremely high energies. And that is what the LHC is trying to create- blasting two beams of protons against each other at extremely high energies so that Higgs Bosons are released and detected. The Higgs Boson is so fundamental that some Physicists refer to it as the God particle. The Higgs Boson is so fundamental to theoretical physics that if it is not detected a lot of Physics will have to be rewritten. The Standard Model would have to be dumped and we will start particle
physics from scratch. But if the Higgs Boson is discovered we would get clues about another mystery- the mystery of dark matter. According to Physicists about 96% of matter in the universe is missing- unaccounted for. We know that there is matter because it causes gravity and other effects but we cannot “see” this matter. So this matter is invisible to all our detection but we know that it is there because it causes the galaxies to rotate in a certain way and the universe to expand at a certain rate. If the Higgs Boson is discovered we will make great progress to understand what Dark Matter really is and what it is composed of. Many TV channels said that the LHC is trying to create a Big Bang or Black Holes. That is not true. The LHC will hit the beams of protons at such high energies that a quark-gluon plasma would be created. This is actually a different state of matter- a state in which quarks and gluons( particles that bind quarks together) are roaming about freely. And this state existed in the universe just after the Big Bang. So the LHC will help us understand the properties of the quark-gluon plasma and thus help us understand the conditions that existed in the universe just after Big Bang. So the Large Hadron Collider is a very important tool that would help us understand the fundamental laws that govern the universe. It will not yield information that will help technology in the near future. The LHC exists only for the expansion of pure human knowledge. And there is no bigger achievement than widening the horizons of human thought and knowledge. The Large Hadron Collider was built with a huge cost of
about 10 billion dollars. Some people called this a waste of money because this money could have gone to feed a lot of poor people. But in my opinion the unique defining characteristic of the human race is our love for knowledge and our constant attempt to understand the universe around us. Yes, we need food to feed the world’s poor but should we not be cutting the defense expenditure of countries to feed the poor?
More Dope : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fJ6PMfnz2E
Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time and regulate the Sun;
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