Columbia Physics Prof and science celeb Brian Greene wrote a great op-ed for the NY Times today about the Large Hadron Collider and its impact on science and society. It’s definitely recommended reading.
Op-Ed Contributor – The Origins of the Universe – A Crash Course – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com: “The collider’s workings are straightforward: at full power, trillions of protons will be injected into the otherwise empty track and set racing in opposite directions at speeds exceeding 99.999999 percent of the speed of light — fast enough so that every second the protons will cycle the entire track more than 11,000 times and engage in more than half a billion head-on collisions.
The raison d’être for creating this microscopic maelstrom derives from Einstein’s famous formula, E = mc2, which declares that much like euros and dollars, energy (‘E’) and matter or mass (‘m’) are convertible currencies (with ‘c’ — the speed of light — specifying the fixed conversion rate). By accelerating the protons to fantastically high speeds, their collisions provide a momentary reservoir of tremendous energy, which can then quickly convert to a broad spectrum of other particles. “
If you’re interested in the LHC, this is a great read.