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 was the last particle of the Standard Model of Physics 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 intended purpose was to be able to measure the Higgs Boson. In the comic, the experiment fails to observe the Higgs Boson. The researchers can only wait for the theorists to determine what may have happened, if something went wrong, or if they can come up with a testable hypothesis. In 2012, and after many years of experimentation and observation, the Higgs Boson was observed at CERN's LHC. This comic imagines what the researchers may have done with the LHC in between tests.
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, 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 teraelectronvolt and equals 1012 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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