Click to viewCERN's scientists, the fine people who brought us the W and Z particles, anti-hydrogen atoms and
hyperlinked porn sites web pages, are now hard at work building the Large Hadron Collider to discover something even cooler: the Force. Yes, that Force. Or like physicists call it, the Higgs boson, a particle that carries a field which interacts with every living or inert matter, which could bring us closer to understanding how the Universe works:
Most physicists believe that there must be a Higgs field that pervades all space; the Higgs particle would be the carrier of the field and would interact with other particles, sort of the way a Jedi knight in Star Wars is the carrier of the "force." The Higgs is a crucial part of the standard model of particle physics—but no one's ever found it.
In theory, when physicists turn on the tons of machinery inside the Akira-like LHC 17-mile-long ring in 2008, they will be able to produce the Higgs boson. Observing it could confirm many physicist predictions and "missing links" in the Standard Model, which is a physics theory that aims to describe how elementary particles interact with each other. It's either that or destroy the planet. We can go either way (actually, although it was a joke, CERN just wrote back saying that they don't want to destroy the planet. Thankfully, Jeff Vader doesn't work there.)
The existence of the Higgs particle, also called the God Particle, has only been predicted so far. It was first proposed by University of Edinburgh physicist Peter Higgs in 1965, after coming from a walk on the mountains. If confirmed by the LHC, it could bring scientists closer to the Grand Unified Theory, "which seeks to unify three of the four fundamental forces."
The Force can also explain why the fourth, gravity, is weak compared to the other three: electromagnetism, strong force, and weak force. I guess the strong force is the good one and the weak force is really the Dark Side. I don't know. I'm lost now, so I'm just going to list other of the cool stuff that the LHC will produce: strangelets, micro black holes, magnetic monopoles and supersymmetric particles.
Now, the only question left after they discover the real Force that bind us all is: do they have a canteen at the LHC? And if so, is it run by Jeff Vader or Mr. Stevens? [CERN, Wikipedia, National Geographic via The Force.net - all photos copyright CERN and Flickr]
Yes, again. Because I can't have enough of that clip.