Is the universe coherent?

A small corner item in my paper this morning grabbed my attention — “One small bite for a weasel, one giant hitch for Collider”. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest and most sophisticated engineering works in the world, has been put out of action for weeks by a weasel biting through one of its cables.

Sometime in May it will resume its job of crashing accelerated streams of protons into one another in the hope — and the rare eventuality — of discovering yet another heavy sub-atomic particle — like the Higgs Boson — such as was formed during the Big Bang. But the LHC is still not powerful enough to discover the heaviest particles. An even larger LHC is required — something with a circumference many times larger than the earth itself !

Obviously, that is never going to be possible. So what does that mean for science — or at least its most prestigious branch, sub-atomic physics? It will probably mean that the universe itself will have to be even more closely observed. It is already seen to be full of what seem like anomalies, products of natural experiments that have happened along the way since the Big Bang and, gradually, they’ll all have to fit together coherently. Or is that too big an assumption?

One thought on “Is the universe coherent?

  1. An even larger LHC is required — something with a circumference many times larger than the earth itself !

    Obviously, that is never going to be possible.

    That claim about the impossibility of something is curious. Even the smartest and brightest of say 200 years ago would have considered an LHC impossible too — primarily because they would not have even imagined a think like it, leave alone considered whether it could be built or not.

    Why go that far? Just consider the Airbus A380.

    Consider how a person living 200 years ago would react to the proposition of people traveling 10,000 meters above the ground at 800 kms per hour. How would anyone get a horse-carriage that high up in the sky? And once it is up there, how on earth can the horse pull the carriage that fast? And you claim that 800 people will be stilling in this horse carriage about 10,000 meters above ground, and travel at 800 kms per hour for 15 hours continuously in comfort? Are you out of your mind?

    I am not so sure that humans will not engineer instruments that are earth-sized in about a century.

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