The first beam was fired on the LHC last night, and it went all the way around the circle. So far everything's great, but the Collider does not go full power till next year. When we needed a headline to spotlight this in DRB, we wrote down "LHC Goes Live! Titanic Possibilities" - but then looked at it again and scratched out heads. See if you can catch the irony.
This is what the world's first Time Machine may look like
Never heard of "traversable wormholes?"
Well, soon you might start hearing about them, as the world's most powerful particle accelerator becomes functional this spring - unleashing forces, capable of distorting not only space (just like gravity distorts space around Earth), but also TIME.
According to the research published by Irina Arefieva and Igor Volovich, "in general relativity, a time-like curve in space-time will run from past to future. But in some space-times the curves can intersect themselves, giving a closed-like curve, which is interpreted as a time machine - which suggests the possibility of time travel"
Two proton beams travel in opposite directions and collide at four points along the way - replicating the Big Bang conditions of "cosmic plasma", a mysterious almost liquid state, which occurred before quarks had cooled off enough to allow atoms to form together. The Large Hadron Collider will force quarks to break free of their bonds, the matter substance to unravel - to recreate the original "cosmic plasma", and to reconstruct Big Bang conditions. (hopefully on a much smaller scale)
Here are some quick facts:
- 20-year work-in-progress
- A team of 7,000 physicists from more than 80 nations
- 27 kilometers in circumference, 175 meters underground
- facilitating head-on collision of protons, traveling very near the speed-of-light
- each tunnel is big enough to run a train through it.
- temperatures generated: more than 1000,000 times hotter than the sun's core
- superconducting magnets are cooled to a temperature colder than in deep space
The most complicated thing that humans have ever built
To better appreciate the enormous scale of this beast, consider that it runs 17 miles across the border of two countries, has detectors in four locations the size of buildings, housed in huge caverns - and if you happen to be inside the tunnel while this thing is in operation, you would have a highly radioactive - and fatal - experience.
Just one superconducting solenoid (CMS) contains in it more iron than the Eiffel Tower. The cost of building LHC is so high, that America had to put a stop to its own Superconducting Super Collider in 1993 (even though 14 miles of tunnel had already been dug in Texas), so today CERN's structure is the lone contender for the title "the most complicated thing that humans have ever built".
(Installation of the CMS silicon tracking detector, photo by Michael Hoch, CERN)
(The world's largest solenoid magnet will be fitted inside, photo by Peter Ginter, CERN)
Click on the image below to get a 360 degrees VR view:
The LHC team has been called the "Lords of the Ring", the project itself compared to something out of Star Wars (hopefully not the building of the Death Star). Look at the picture below, doesn't it look like Han Solo's hyperdrive on the left?
The idea is to focus all this incredible energy into the smallest space possible. As they say, "the more energy goes in, the more massive the particles that come out". How massive? How about a miniature black hole?
If not time-travel, other exciting thing produced by LHC may be:
The end of the world as we know it
Apologies for a sensationalist headline, but how would you like a miniature Big Bang generated in your community, with scientists going around in little black vans with blaring loudspeakers: "Everything is under control, remain calm, look for a miniature blackhole in your kitchen sink"?
All jokes aside, scientists do expect excitement, but of the containable kind. The well-known reasons behind building LHC are finding the "God Particle" (Higgs Boson?) and coming up with the "Grand Unified Theory" of all forces of the Universe. For the estimation of dangers associated with LHC, read this paper abstract.
All other weird notions that LHC may produce uncontrollable Medium-sized Bang, or a bad-mannered black hole, are put to rest by CERN scientists: they assure us that "even if black holes will be produced, they will be too small and too short-lived to generate a strong gravitational force." In other words, Geneva is not going to get sucked into anything cosmologically weird.
The Internet's Web started here...
Time Travel might as well start here, too
CERN scientists know what they talk about, and we can trust them - after all, last time they needed something for sharing collider data, they invented the World Wide Web! According to some sources, even now one THIRD of ALL internet traffic flows thru this facility in CERN's computing center (one of the three main hubs for world wide web):
I like how Discover Magazine puts it: "The collisions at LHC could spray out strange new kinds of matter, unfurl hidden dimensions of space, even generate tiny glowing reenactments of the birth of the universe." And now, as we have seen - it may even facilitate time travel.
"We don’t even know what to expect," says French physicist Yves Schutz. "We’re now in a domain of energy that nobody has ever explored."
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