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Friday, July 6, 2012

Higgs Bosun/Holy Fuck, I just Destroyed the Solar System - Oops!


Friday and another scary weekend. I've GOT to do something about ensuring the weekends are full of novelty and meaning and NOT loneliness. Just because Fridays and Saturdays are traditional "be with your sweetie" days and I don't have a sweetie doesn't mean they have to suck. Seriously, Sarah, you're a person who is hired to solve problems - you can't crack the nut on this one? You live in one of the greatest cities in the world with people all around you - there is absolutely no excuse for being home alone playing Words With Friends on ANY night of the week (yes, I'm an addict - I tried to eschew the game - removed it several times from the phone only to reinstall it when my mind got agitated - it calms me). I know, rationalization - feeling the need to remove it again. Soon, but not today, maybe not tomorrow.

Tonight Schaller's again - Robin and entourage to come but everyone else who planned to go developed last minute conflicts. That's OK. Quality time with Robin and Jon will be more than enough - that and singing well. Lately I'm working up two songs: Always Something There To Remind Me and My Romance. The first is a kick in the gut kind of song even though it's Burt Bacharach bouncy - makes me think of Patrick. And yeah, that's a dead horse that I keep taking the pulse of, lifting its eyelids just to check for life. Lately been texting him with no response whatsoever - he's SO done with me. I get it and yet Sarah just doesn't take no for an answer - ever. It's what makes me get my man in business - what allows me to visualize a project and take it home despite any obstacle. It doesn't work so well in love. Yesterday for the first time, anger - "Fuck you, I hate you" texts - totally off base and inappropriate. Thinking like a little kid - I'll take any attention at this point, even negative attention. The man has a temper - maybe I can piss him off enough so he'll respond in anger. At this point his anger would be a relief - there is nothing so dead as apathy and indifference.

What's exciting me lately is the discovery of the Higgs Bosen particle. I've been following this story for a very long time. Are you aware of the significance? Do you know there are two large hadron colliders in the world - one in Geneva and the other right in our own backyard? Do you even know what a large hadron collider is, why it was built, how big it is, and what some people fear are the dangers of the technology? If not, you're in for a treat cuz this story is epic and it's taking place right under our noses, in our lifetime.

Back in the '60's a British physicist Peter Higgs theorized an explanation of the universe that became known as The Standard Model. At the center of the theory was his contention that there were subatomic particles - smaller than atoms (that's what subatomic means!) that explain how the universe was created. Without these particles, there would be no mass - just light - without mass there is no matter. But the particle had never been seen or captured - just existed in scientist's minds. To capture it would require an enormous engineering feat - a device so big, protons could traverse it at enormous speeds and made to collide into each other. When the deliberate collisions occurred, it would reveal or release or capture the tiny subatomic particles which were dubbed Higgs boson particles.

Two devices were constructed at enormous cost - one in Geneva (CERN) and the other in Illinois - Fermilabs (Batavia/Warrenville area). The Illinois device was shut down in recent years because the Swiss collider had more promise - was more powerful. Here are some fun facts about the Swiss collider:

  • It is the largest machine in the world - about 27km - it's so big it crosses the border between Switzerland and France
  • It is the fastest racetrack on the planet - photons race through the tubes at almost the speed of light
  • It is the emptiest space in the Solar Systems - for the experiments, the protons need to avoid colliding with normal gas molecules so the environment is an ultra-high vacuum - the internal pressure is less than the pressure of the Moon
  • It is simultaneously the hottest space in the galaxy but also colder than outer space. When ions collide it generates temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the heart of the sun. In contrast, the superfluid helium around the accelerator cools everything to -271.3 degrees C.
  • It is the most powerful supercomputer system in the world - tens of thousands of computers around the world are connected into a distributed computing network called The Grid.
Quote from Times Science:
..studying the Higgs could open the way for explorations of the weirder corners of physics, such as the idea that our universe has six or seven extra dimensions, or the claim that there should be an unseen supersymmetric partner for every one of the subatomic particles that have been detected or the nature of the stuff that mysteriouis dark matter is made of.  
What this means? We may finally understand how the universe was created, break barriers to time travel, discover parallel universes that exist all around us. Maybe the weird science fiction books that postulate we exist in multiple universes simultaneously aren't far-fetched - maybe I am one of many Sarah's!!!

There is a concern though, and one that freaked me out back in 2008 which was also right at the time I was spending $5-10K prepping for the bird flu. There are scientists who are fearful that the experiments done in the Large Hadron Collider could destroy the solar system. You heard that right...destroy the entire solar system! That the actions of man could actually reduce our part of the universe to a black hole! The folks who worry about this aren't hacks - they are credible scientists. They postulate the collisions could create tiny black holes. And you don't want a black hole no matter how small -a black hole with its amazing gravity, swallows everything, even light. Within seconds, the collider itself would be swallowed, then France and Switzerland and, within a short time, the entire solar system. I guess there would be little time to say, "Told you so!"

Challenge today is being amazed you are witnessing this scientific discovery - it happened in your lifetime! Maybe you could spend some time on the Internet learning more about quarks and bosuns and what this all means. I know the technical jargon can get thick but there is plenty written in lay terms that make it understandable. This is a very big deal - one that we should all be able to discuss in an informed and intelligent way.

Peace,
Sarah




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