March 30, 2010

Hooray for Physics!

With beams (finally!) colliding at 7 TeV, this week marks the start of real physics at the LHC, and for particle physicists and scientific optimists all over the world, brings the possibility of imminent groundbreaking discovery. Dennis Overbye calls it a "remarkable comeback for CERN", John Conway writes that this "clearly marks the beginning, at long last, of the first major physics run of the new accelerator," and NewScientist reports that "record LHC collisions mark new era for physics."

CERN is giddy: Rolf Heuer, General Director, writes "A lot of people have waited a long time for this moment, but their patience and dedication has started to pay dividends...the LHC has a real chance over the next two years of discovering supersymmetric particles, and possibly giving insights into the composition of about a quarter of the Universe." ATLAS spokeswoman, Fabiola Gianotti, said "With these record-shattering collision energies, the LHC experiments are propelled into a vast region to explore, and the hunt begins for dark matter, new forces, new dimensions and the Higgs boson." See here for the latest mind-blowing videos and images from the LHC. This era is an awesome one, in the most literal sense.

Get up to speed on all the implications of a successful LHC run: The Little Book of String Theory by Steven Gubser; The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider by Don Lincoln; Collider: The Search for the World's Smallest Particles by Paul Halpern; Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe by Evalyn Gates.

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