The World’s Largest Experiment

This is my first post on this site and I will try and keep this site mainly for physics issues. I also blog here but mostly on non academic or at least non physics issues.

I can’t think of a better way to start this ‘physics’ blog than to talk about the largest experiment in the world — The Large Hadron Collider — at CERN which will eventually collide 7 TeV on 7 TeV protons hoping to unlock some of the open problems in High Energy Physics.

The Standard Model of Particle Physics has not had any major discoveries in quite a while. While Tevatron and HERA have some remarkable results both in precision tests and in new and unexpected behaviour in Deep Inelastic scattering and the neutrino detectors around the world have given us an insight into neutrino masses and oscillations (the first evidence of any physics beyond the standard model). there has not been any ‘big’ event in this field for some time. Theorists have had a field day producing theories after theories about scenarios beyond the standard model, but since none of their predictions have yet been seen, all hopes and aspirations for ‘proving’ one’s favourite model now rest on the LHC. This is a bit frightening — the pressure on the experimentalists (and the theorists) to interpret every blip, every extra track, every signal of missing energy, every extra jet as a proof of “someone’s” favourite model will get to be enormous. In any case, contrary to popular belief, none of this, if it at all happens, will happen very soon. It will take a long time perhaps at least a year to tune the machine and make sure it’s all working and reproducing the known parts of the standard machine correctly (something that has been tried and tested in numerous other earlier experiments) before one can confidently step forward and start looking for the Higgs and then for scenarios beyond the standard model.

However, whichever way it works, just the amount of data that the LHC will produce (around a few Peta Bytes per year after a 10^7 factor cut at the detector level itself) means there will be enough to do and therefore there can be no better time to get into High Energy Physics. So roll up, young boys and girls and get yourself counted and enrolled into one of the most exciting times in High Energy Physics!

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2 Responses to “The World’s Largest Experiment”

  1. JF Says:

    I was wondering why you Indians, at least your small community of bloggers, use blogger.com rather than wordpress.com. I started with blogger and then I switched to wordpress. But the disadvantage to wordpress is I can’t tweek the code without paying, so I can’t see the referrer link for my sitemeter. I don’t like google, so I don’t wan’t to go back to blogger. WordPress has some cool features, and the people who own it actually make themselves known. I sent an email because of a problem, and Andrew responded, so they seem to be very responsive for a free product, not that most people probably have many problems.

    As far as the physics and HEP, I wish I knew enough to know what the data means, which is not to say that’s all I need to know. I’ve thought about how at the atomic and sub-atomic levels, there’s some major indirect-observation going on. I’d like to know how they know how they know they’re getting meaningful data. Like where’s the threshold between noise and something that means something.

  2. JF Says:

    I would think that you wouldn’t be able to add the map to this wordpress blog like you have on you blogger blog. Actually, what I was wondering is whether blogger.com gives you faster service in India than wordpress.com. I thought maybe blogger.com is faster in India because Google has servers spread out all over the world.

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