An accessible look at the hottest topic in physics and the experiments that will transform our understanding of the universe
The biggest news in science today is the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and most powerful particle-smasher, and the anticipation of finally discovering the Higgs boson particle. But what is the Higgs boson and why is it often referred to as the God Particle? Why are the Higgs and the LHC so important? Getting a handle on the science behind the LHC can be difficult for anyone without an advanced degree in particle physics, but you don't need to go back to school to learn about it. In Collider, award-winning physicist Paul Halpern provides you with the tools you need to understand what the LHC is and what it hopes to discover.
The world will not come to an end any time soon, but we may learn a lot more about it in the blink of an eye. Read Collider and find out what, when, and how.
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Top Ten Ways the Large Hadron Collider Could Revolutionize the World of Science
Content from Paul Halpern
Browse Photos of the Collider (Click on image to enlarge)
A corner of the Proton Synchrotron device with its bending magnets. Built in the late 1950s, it has since been used for a variety of purposes and now serves as an early stage of the injector system to accelerate protons and ions before they reach the main ring of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Paul Halpern standing on the grounds of CERN in Switzerland. In the right background is the Globe of Science and Innovation, built in 2002 as a symbol of our planet. In the far left background are the Jura Mountains in France. The 17 mile main ring of the LHC lies deep beneath the verdant countryside between the mountains and CERN.
The Linac (linear accelerator) at CERN is another component of the system for accelerating protons and ions before they reach the main ring of the LHC.
A sample cross-section of a beam pipe through which particles travel.
Will the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) create a miniature black hole that could swallow up the Earth? Could it help explain the missing matter and energy in the universe? Will it point the way toward unifying the forces of nature? Might it reveal the God particle? Collider goes beyond explaining the mysteries of quantum mechanics and Einstein's theories to sort through a century of actual experiments, revealing how we know what we know, and what we hope to find out.
In this comprehensive guide to the theory, mechanics, and science behind experimental high-energy physics, award-winning physicist and celebrated author Paul Halpern gives you the tools you need to understand what the LHC is, what it hopes to discover, and why it is the biggest story in science today. You'll discover how the scientists running the project expect to shed light on the origins of the universe by recreating the conditions that existed just after the Big Bang and why that isn't nearly as scary as it sounds.
Halpern starts you off with a crash course in the essentials of physics. With clear explanations of the Standard Model, the four forces that govern the universe (weak, strong, gravity, and electromagnetism), and the vast array of particles already discovered using colliders, he helps you understand why scientists might be on the verge of confirming or disproving some of the predictions of string theory and how the LHC could help unlock the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy, supersymmetry, and portals to higher dimensions. You'll also find out why the theoretical Higgs boson is often referred to as the God particle and how its discovery could change our understanding of the universe.
No aspect of the LHC has received more attention than the fact that one side effect of the collision of particles at ultra-high speed is the creation of mini–black holes. Press coverage has focused heavily on fears that these superdense particles would start gobbling up everything around them and eventually swallow the entire Earth. Halpern provides a clear and detailed explanation of why these fears, and the storm of publicity that has spread them, amount to a tempest in a very tiny teapot.
So, relax! The world will not come to an end any time soon, but we may learn a lot more about it in the blink of an eye. Read Collider and find out what, when, and how.
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