Pilcher is among six University of Chicago faculty members and more than a dozen research scientists and students, both graduate and undergraduate, who have contributed to the design and construction of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.
Experts around the world are eagerly awaiting the switch on of the world’s biggest scientific experiment, and none more so than Professor Stephen Hawking.The £5billion Large Hadron Collider aims to recreate the conditions moments after the Big Bang that created the universe.
It could offer Professor Hawking his best chance so far of winning a Nobel prize if it confirms his theory that black holes give off radiation.
The British physicist put forward his idea in the 1970s but proved controversial because many scientists believed nothing could escape the gravitational pull of a black hole.Although Hawking’s theory has become accepted by the profession is remains unproven. Nobel prizes in physics are awarded only when there is experimental evidence for a new phenomenon.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN may produce microscopic black holes that could evaporate in a flash of Hawking radiation. To do this, a massive 27km tunnel has been constructed under countryside in France and Switzerland near Geneva, which will be used to smash protons together at 99.99 per cent of the speed of light.
Tomorrow morning, it will be switched on and the first attempt to send the particle beam around its entire 27km length will be made. Experts say the LHC is probably the most complex and challenging scientific endeavour since the Apollo programme put astronauts on the moon.
‘This is an incredibly exciting time for physics,’ said Professor Nick Evans of Southampton University. ‘The LHC will help scientists to unlock the secrets of our Universe. The great thing about this experiment is that we know we must find something new because our current theories don’t explain what will happen at LHC.
‘We have some guesses which may or may not be right, but whatever the results, the LHC will herald a new age in our understanding of physics.’
Major spin-offs have already emerged from earlier particle accelerator experiments at CERN, the European nuclear research organisation based in Geneva where the LHC is housed.
It is credited with pioneering radiotherapy machines and even the world wide web. One of the aims of the LHC is to hunt for the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle“. The Higgs is said to be the so-far undetected key to mass. If scientists can prove its existence, it could pave the way for manipulating the gravity which exists in all mass – rather like Star Trek ‘tractor’ beams.
Professor Brian Cox, from the University of Manchester, is one of the LHC scientists and also played keyboard with pop band D:Ream. He admitted to having received death threats from opponents of the LHC, who claim it could create black holes which could swallow the Earth. Scientists dismiss such fears as nonsense.
‘At every stage of understanding the universe better, the benefits to civilisation have been immeasurable,’ he said.
‘None of these big leaps were made with us knowing what was going to happen.’
Read More : (4 Videos on LHC) –