Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CERN Turns on the LHC!

CERN = European Organization for Nuclear Research (or, Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire.)

LHC = Large Hadron Collider.

Well, the cats and kittens over at CERN flipped the "on" switch on the largest and most expensive experiment in particle physics ever. Today.

To dramatically over-simplify, the LHC makes tiny pieces of matter move really fast and then smash into each other. Then it records the results. Think crash test dummies but replace the dummies with protons.


Well, as crazy as it sounds, scientists have no idea why matter has mass. Truly. They just don't know. By running the LHC and analyzing the data it produces, they should be able to see for the very first time the elusive Higgs boson, which (if it exists) will help to explain why matter has mass, as well as a number of other unanswered questions.

A huge congratulations to CERN, to the operators and technicians and scientists at the LHC, and especially to all of humanity, whose understanding of the universe and its component parts is about to expand dramatically.

Yayyy! Science!

Here's a viddy to help explain who CERN is and what they do:

And, because it (and she) is so awesome, here is AlpineKat's LHC Rap:

Well done, humans.

(all of these luscious photos via Enrico Sacchetti)

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