What is simultaneously the coldest place in the Universe and 100,000 times the temperature of the Sun? It is also the largest machine ever built – the Large Haldron Collider (LHC) – scheduled for first light beam tomorrow. Check out the popular rap.
It will take months to tune the beam to full power, but the LHC’s ATLAS detector should definitively answer the question of whether the Higgs particle exists or not. Higgs is the famous “God” particle which would explain the reason for mass. It is the only particle in the Standard Model of Physics yet to be observed. The Atom Smashers is a documentary film of the competition to discover Higgs before the LHC came online.
Equally interesting is the ALICE experiment, pictured above being inserted into the Time Projection Chamber (this is not science fiction!). Instead of smashing protons, ALICE will look at the quark/gluon soup created from smashing something heavier (lead), a recipe that hasn’t existed since shortly after the Big Bang. It may answer questions like why we find the Universe is mostly matter instead of matter/antimatter, and what is that mysterious Dark matter.
You can participate with LHC@home. The voyage begins tomorrow with live video from CERN.