Saturday, November 21, 2009

Particle Physics

Gives me a large hadron. Sorry for the gratuitous pun, for which I will take neither credit nor blame; it's been circulating widely for some time. The Big Picture has a great gallery of photos from the Large Hadron Collider. (Of course, all of their photo galleries are great, but some amaze me more than others.)
What struck me about these photos wasn't the amazing technology... I really have no idea what I'm looking at. I found myself woolgathering and reflecting on how weird we are, that we would put such an inconceivable amount of money into building such an inconceivably large structure... look for something so inconceivably small and inconceivably fleeting.

From The NYT:
Physicists returned to their future on Friday. About 10 p.m. outside Geneva, scientists at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, succeeded in sending beams of protons clockwise around the 17-mile underground magnetic racetrack known as the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment.

For physicists, the event was a milestone on the way back from disaster and the resumption of a 15-year, $9 billion quest to investigate laws and forces that prevailed when the universe was less than a trillionth of a second old.
For the sake of curiosity. Inconceivable.

Sometimes, though I hate to be forced to admit it, I'm inconceivably proud of humanity.

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