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?