The world’s biggest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, was restarted today by operators in preparation for experiments probing the secrets of the universe.
The world’s biggest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, was restarted today by operators in preparation for experiments probing the secrets of the universe. "After a cautious trial period, Cern (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) plans to ramp up the energy of the proton beams travelling around the 17-mile tunnel housing the Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border at Geneva to unprecedented levels – and start record-setting collisions of protons by late March. The restart follows a two and a half month winter shutdown during which scientists made improvements and checked out the smasher's ability to collide protons at energies three times greater than has ever been achieved previously. The new collisions are expected to shatter the subatomic particles and reveal still smaller fragments and forces than previously achieved on any collider, including the previous record-holder – the Tevatron at Fermilab outside Chicago. The Large Hadron Collider was built to examine suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago, which many theorize occurred as an explosion known as the Big Bang. The restart follows successful trial runs late last year when Cern showed that it had made a big comeback from its initial 10 September, 2008, start-up with great fanfare."
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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