The God Particle
‘The God Particle’: The Higgs Boson
A subatomic venture
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
These were the words of the famous physicist Albert Einstein, who went on to say that “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
If you venture into the subatomic world in an attempt to unveil its inner workings, possession of all the knowledge in the world is not enough. Instead, invite your imagination to serve as a guide, because many rules as we know them no longer apply. Just like the story of Alice In Wonderland, this new world may look familiar but it is not fully comprehensible. Scales shift and matter transforms. Transitory twins appear and extra dimensions hide.
Nature has the ability to throw us the biggest surprises, so expect dramatic twists and unexpected turns; many before you have dreamed up mind–blowing theories and crazy concepts. Some of these have prevailed against the tests of time and armies of knowledgeable critics – thus far.
Someone, sometime, somewhere, may succeed in completing these unfinished mysteries, or even rewrite the chapters entirely. The book is by no means finished.
The Large Hadron Collider
Our understanding of the Universe is about to change…
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.
Two beams of subatomic particles called ‘hadrons’ – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.
There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what’s for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.