Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fast As Hell

Marvelous write up from Phil Plait about his visit to the Large Hardron Collider.

I especially liked the reminder of the scale of the thing here:
The accelerator itself is vast: it’s a ring of pipes 27 kilometers around, a circle about 17 kilometers across. The energies are fantastic as well. The protons zip around the ring 1100 times per second
Go, humans!

UPDATE: ...I wrote that last line, and then continued reading the article, and found this absolutely beautiful prose on how affecting the whole project is for Phil:
Some people have their issues with science; they think it’s a haphazard, random, and essentially directionless process done by cold-blooded, emotionless scientists. Standing in the LHC puts the lie to that thought. As you drink in the components of this fantastic apparatus, there is an almost overwhelming sense of purpose to all of it, a knowledge that this intricate and amazing machine was built, and its one goal, the only thing it really is designed to do, is further our knowledge of how the Universe works. Humans did this, humans desired to seek out this learning, humans proposed it, humans funded it, humans built it.

And humans will learn from it. That’s what we do

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