El acelerador de partículas LHC del CERN, la Organización Europea para la Investigación Nuclear, ha vuelto a ponerse en marcha tras la pausa invernal del centro iniciada el pasado 16 de diciembre, que los científicos aprovecharon para hacer algunas mejoras.
Antes de su cierre técnico, el LHC había alcanzado un millón de colisiones y había acelerado haces de protones hasta niveles de energía de 2.36 teraelectronvoltios (TeV). Ahora los científicos de CERN se proponen alcanzar los 7.0 TeV para intentar recrear, durante al menos 18 meses, las condiciones que siguieron al Big Bang, e intentar explicar así cómo se originó el Universo. Un TeV es el equivalente a la energía cinética alcanzada por un mosquito en vuelo.
En el túnel de 27 kilómetros de longitud del LHC, los investigadores trataran de resolver problemas clave de la física como los relativos a la materia oscura y la energía oscura, que juntas podrían sumar el 96% del contenido del Cosmos. Aunque, sin duda, el Santo Grial actual es encontrar un componente hasta ahora teórico conocido como Bosón de Higgs (la partícula de Dios), que explicaría cómo las partículas adquieren su masa.
Tamaño completo en http://teknociencia.es/videos/LHC.swf
Infografia cortesia de Consumer Eroski
The story behind ‘The Quest for the Higgs’.
In 1999 my father Martinus Veltman won the Nobel Prize in physics and quite quickly it became apparent that I had no idea for what. In fact, it’s fair to say that barely anyone today knows much about the present forefront of physics. This was not always the case. There was a great celebration and basic public understanding of physics in the early 20th century. The celebrity of Einstein and his theory relativity, the discoveries of the structure of the atom and of course the atomic bomb. The general public knew to some extent the idea of fusion, a nucleus surrounded by electrons, etc.. But since then, the last 60 plus years of discovery has gone into a realm of mystery. Quarks, Leptons, Higgs, Quantum Mechanics, Weak Force, Gauge Theory, and the list of mysterious terms goes on and on. However, my dad believed that we are at a point where the picture of particle physics has gotten quite clear and can be explained to the layman… me! We decided to make an educational film and the task of writing it fell upon me.
What followed was two years of intense learning. Reading one layman book after another and asking my dad numerous questions. Of particular help was in fact my dad’s book “Fact and Mysteries of Particle Physics.” A complex book but it is all there without crazy mathematical formulas. The Eureka moment of how to explain Particle Physics came with the book QED by Richard Feynman. In the foreword he explains that he was asked by a friend to explain Quantum Mechanics. He said he would only if they accept everything he says as truth and not question him. If you do that, and stick with it, it will make sense once you get the whole picture. The problem with Quantum Mechanics is that you have a knee jerk reaction to it that says it’s wrong. It is not wrong but simply a different way of thinking. Just show everything the way it really is (however complex you think it is) and sure enough, people get it.
All these other layman books fear people are too stupid and can’t understand so they muddle everything with stupid patronizing analogies. Analogies have their place but a Quark is not an orange, it’s a Quark.
Eventually I scripted a 9 chapter educational film. We start with the basic structure of the atom and from there we go into the world of creating particles, Quantum Mechanics and piecing together the Standard model. The conclusion would be the explanation of the Higgs particle and the current hunt for it. The hope would be that people could see this film and be able to understand and get quite excited when they read the headline: ‘The Higgs has been discovered’.
I would have to say that it is the Physics Community responsibility to explain to the public at large just what they are doing. Unfortunately most don’t get that and we had a terrible time getting any sort of funding. My dad and me decided to make the first chapter of our educational film ourselves. We wanted to illustrate that Particle Physics can be taught and explained to the laymen. The key to explaining Particle Physics and the world of Quantum Mechanics is to simply show everything WITHOUT PATRONIZING ANALOGIES. In other words, dont underestimate the intelligence of your audience.
After years of trying to sell this educational film (and yes, we tried PBS numerous times), we got nowhere even though everyone we showed it to ‘got it’ and wanted to see more. But, to no avail. I finally decided to put it up on YouTube and over time just more and more people started watching it. It’s taken my dad and me by surprise. I cannot describe just how excited I am when I see comments saying, “I finally get it”.
Thanks to YouTube though it shows that there is a thirst for knowledge and a market for educational films. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to translate that into making more. People want more and we would love to but there’s no funding. If you do know of some way to get more funding, please don’t hesitate to contact me. At the very least support our sponsors. We would love to continue the movie.
Thank-you for all your support!
Higgs boson – CERN LHC – Fermilab Tevatron