Particles Called Protons

September 10, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) started up today and it was a success.  I saw the the story come up this morning and headed over to the BBC to read what was going on.  The article greeted me with this great sentence “They have now fired two beams of particles called protons around the 27km-long tunnel” (emphasis added).  Really?  Who doesn’t know a proton is some sort of particle?  Did they think someone would think, “protons, those are beach balls right?”

If you haven’t read about it, it is a really amazing project.  While the physicist in me thinks this is spectacular I can’t help wondering, how did they get someone to pay for this?  It cost £4.5bn, that is $8.9 billion with a B, US dollars.  Not exactly pocket change.

They still haven’t collided any particles called protons yet, so the predictions of creating a massive black hole that eats the earth still might come true.  I’m not to worried, mostly because I don’t think it would be that easy to destroy a planet.  Everyone knows that you need a moon sized machine to destroy a planet, not a measly 27km ring.