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.
Greene is most famous for his books such as The Elegant Universe
and The Fabric of the Cosmos
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.