September 2008

...Or maybe not

One of the costliest and most complex scientific experiments ever attempted by humans has failed, sort of. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) ran into some problems this week when one of the transformers, which is necessary for keeping the machine at a very cold temperature, broke down.  The collider ring has to be cooled to a temperature of minus 271.3 Celsius so the protons can travel round the accelerator at more than 99.99 per cent of the speed of light.  Problems with the massive magnets in the collider caused temperatures to rise, delaying the first trial collisions next week.  This little hiccup has halted the experiment for now.  Read more here. A full assesmnent of the damage must be done before the experiment can go on.  The scientists at CERN are hoping to have the machine up and running by the middle of October.  Until then, Doomsday has been postponed.

Large Hadron Collider: By golly, it worked

I have to admit that last night when I went to bed I worried whether I would wake up this morning in a black hole. That's because, in case you hadn't heard, an experiment to recreate the Big Bang was being conducted in Switzerland. Check out this article for an in-depth explanation of how this thing works. The Large Hadron Collider is supposed to help scientists understand why things have mass and what the universe is made of. Of course, those aren't the only reasons for the LHC to exist, scientists want to recreate the conditions right before the Big Bang supposedly happened. The hope to learn something from this experiment, which basically is sending particles into space and smashing them against each other really hard and really fast, creating black holes in space. No worries, say the scientists. The black holes will evaporate before anyone even has a chance to notice.

The sky is falling, the sky is falling

There's a leak in the atmosphere and oxygen from Earth is spilling into space. This could be a very bad thing for us Earthlings. The Earth's magnetic field keeps us from burning to a crisp when ever there are solar eruptions and things like that. But solar wind and other forces of nature are causing our oxygen to be sucked out into space through a hole in the North polar cap. This all sounds very scary in an end-of-the-world kind of way. But scientists tell us we have nothing to worry about. This isn't going to a problem until the Earth is much older and much hotter, like in a few billion years. This is a good thing because I have enough to worry about, Gamma Rays, giant meteors, an ever expanding universe that will someday tear, the list goes on. What's one little space fart from planet Earth?