Colliding Hadrons

So the LHC is up and running, and pretty soon (within a few weeks, apparently) it’ll start smashing things together. Ultimately, it’ll be able to reach energies of 7 Teraelectronvolts. The funny thing is, while 7 trillion electronvolts may be a lot of energy for a proton, in human terms it’s about the energy of seven mosquitos in flight. Doesn’t seem quite so impressive when you look at it that way, does it? Well, it does if you realise that the air molecules all around you probably average 0.25 electronvolts.

High energy particles like this aren’t too different to cosmic rays, but to put into perspective how powerful those can be, the most energetic cosmic ray ever detected had about the same energy as a tennis ball does mid-game. Tennis ball beats mosquito.

But the big question (one of them, at least) is, what will they find? Personally, I don’t believe in the Higgs Boson, and I don’t think they’re going to find it. The Standard Model, successful though it may be, is a mathematically very ugly thing. Ugly and cumbersome. I’d like to see the whole thing tuned on its head. So the big problem is that General Relativity breaks if you try and fit it into the Standard Model and vice versa. Though logically, that’s a bit like trying to run Windows software on a copy of Ubuntu. They both aim to do the same thing, but they work in different ways. The thing is, with maths there could be more than one way to solve the same problem. There are quite a few ways you can prove that 1 + 1 = 2, and at least one I’ve heard of that proves that wrong. Don’t quote me on that though. I’m no mathematician!

So perhaps one of the big theories needs to be reformulated. If only one is correct, my money is on Einstein.

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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2 Responses to Colliding Hadrons

  1. invaderxan says:

    It makes perfect sense to me. While it’s true it doesn’t really us chemists, I guess it’s strange realising that there’s so much more to these things just underneath the surface. Though I agree — it’s definitely nice to know that they aren’t about to turn any of the theories we work with upside down. :)
    Einstein! I wish he’d had time to solve the puzzle. Imagine a theory of Universal Relativity!

  2. Honestly I find sub-atomic physics to be very interesting, and perhaps once I finish this Ph.D I might devote more time to studying it.
    But all of this (that is with the LHC and such), sort of makes me thankful that I’m a chemist. Mostly because yes, atomic particles (especially electrons) are subject to Quantum Mechanical behavior, but at least we KNOW they are there, even if the equations to describe their behavior aren’t perfect nor easy to work with — moreover, chemists accept this as part of the discipline. If some breakthrough happens, “Fantastic!” we learn something new… but it’s not like we’re banking our entire careers on it. *thinks* Does that make sense?
    But I guess if I had to put money down, I’m going with Einstein. Einstein was just too good to be wrong on such an abstract topic. ;)

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