401: Large Hadron Collider
|Large Hadron Collider|
Title text: When charged particles of more than 5 TeV pass through a bubble chamber, they leave a trail of candy.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest particle accelerator, used in physics research, and particularly for finding the Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson is one quantum excitation of the Higgs Field, in the same way as the photon is a quantum of the electromagnetic field. Interaction between particles and the Higgs field can explain why other particles have mass. The Higgs Boson was first detected in 2012, and confirmed to exist in March 2013. It is the last particle of the Standard Model of Physics not to be experimentally confirmed.
At the time of this comic's writing, the LHC was nearing completion, and the comic imagines experimental physicists starting up the LHC for the first time. It has taken many years to complete, and its purpose is mainly to prove the Higgs Boson exists - but in the comic it turns out the experiment does not show the boson. Since they can't see the Higgs Boson, they can only wait for the theorists to determine what actually happened - and maybe they would then come up with an even more expensive way to find it. In reality, experiments ran for many years and were analyzed for a very long time (4–5 years) before the scientists could conclude that the particle did exist. But imagine the opposite - and you have the scenario of this comic with a five-year delay between panel 3 and 4.
After the experiment failed the bored physicists try frying pigeons with the proton stream and instead end up giving a helicopter cancer. Both of which are impossible. This is because the stream is contained within the LHC, and non-organic entities can't get cancer. However, the proton stream could cause considerable damage to pigeons or humans, if it could hit any, as the U-70 synchrotron did to Anatoli Bugorski in 1978.
At that time there was also a big concern by some people that the LHC could produce microscopic black holes. However, cosmic rays regularly strike Earth's atmosphere with particles at higher energies; thus, if the proposed doomsday scenario were possible it should have already happened. Many jokes were published like this video "LHC End of The World Black Hole".
The title text makes another joke about the effects of highly energetic particles, claiming that when they pass through a bubble chamber (an older particle detection device) they leave a trail of candy. TeV means Tera-Electronvolt and it equals 10^12 eV. 5 TeV is about the energy of the LHC. It is of the order of the energy of a flying mosquito and would never be able to convert a liquid to candy or anything macroscopic.
- The Large Hadron Collider, CERN...
- Megan: Okay, moment of truth. "click"
- Large Hadron Collider: "VVVVVRRMMMMMM"
- Cueball: Do you see the Higgs Boson?
- Megan: Nope.
- Cueball: Huh.
- Megan: Well, then.
- Cueball: Until the theorists get back to us, wanna try hitting pigeons with the proton stream?
- Megan: Already on it. Cool! I just gave a helicopter cancer.
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