Large Hadron Colllider question

Eh, I don’t think there’s any aim at creating superheavy elements at the LHC, which is mostly built to collide, well, hadrons, as opposed to the heavy nuclei you’d need to fuse to get even heavier ones – though there will in fact be collisions of lead ions in the ALICE experiment, to study quark-gluon plasmas.

The expression/exclamation “Who ordered that” was actually uttered by a famous physicist (a Nobel Laureate at that) upon first hearing of a new, and totally unexpected discovery. Who was the physicist and what was the discovery?

According to Google and the NYT, it was Isidor I. Rabi and the muon.

Indeed, but it sounds like you “cheated” :). Did you know the answers before checking with the NY Times? :wink:

IIRC, according to a biography of him that I read many years ago, Rabi and his team were actually at a Chinese restaurant, with each person ordering his favourite dish, when he heard the news and asked the question.

I knew that it was the muon, but couldn’t have told you his name. It was especially puzzling since the theorists (and I do know the key name there, Yukawa) had already predicted the existence of a particle with just about that charge and mass, but the particle the theorists had predicted was a boson, not a fermion like the muon (it was discovered a bit later, and is now known as the pion). The pion made plenty of sense, but at the time, the existence of a heavier electron-like particle which nonetheless was not an electron was baffling.

I thought for sure it’d be Carl Friedrich Gauss.

“This is not a particle accelerator in my pocket. I have a hadron

(Bolding mine! ;))


I believe it was “Is that a neutrino in your pocket? Oh no, it’s a hadron”.


Super Symmetry particles. Basically the thinking is that every particle has a super symmetry partner which is massively heavy compared to their regular particle partner. Since they are really massive, you need a lot of energy to produce them.

What’s really interesting about susies is that if they exist at least one of them is stable, since when a susy decays, the decay products must themselves include at least one susy, and one of them must be the lightest. The same argument is also true of monopoles, though it might be harder to keep them separate from each other after they’re formed (monopoles and susies, being stable, must be produced in antiparticle pairs).

One of the more famous experiments was a #2 case. The Michelson-Morley Experiment was intended to determine the properties of the ‘ether’ that permeated the universe; but the experimental evidence seemed to show that no such ‘ether’ existed. Which didn’t match with anybody’s theories in physics. About 15 years later, it was explained by a new theory of “Special Relativity” by Albert Einstein.

According to some this is one of the most famous ‘failed’ experiments in science history. Though scientists don’t consider it a failure. Quite the contrary, it exposed new facts that led to new, more accurate theories.

P.S. Morley never accepted the null result of this experiment. He went on to do the Morley-Miller experiments (also null results) and after his death, Miller tried more experiments about ‘ether’.

Morley also studied the composition of Earth’s atmosphere; some of his data was used by those who predicted that the first nuclear bomb test in 1945 would ignite the atmosphere. I wonder if those who predict that activation of the Large Hadron Collider will destroy the earth use any data from Morley?

Meh…dunno why there are still people out there worrying about the LHC making a Black Hole when death by strangelets that it could make is more interesting.

As far as you know.


Well, it did match with electrodynamics as encapsulated in Maxwell’s equations, which claim that light should move at a constant speed of c under all circumstances – and this was, in fact, the connection explored by Einstein in his paper ‘On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies’, which contains the first description of special relativity (by Einstein, that is; much of the mathematical, theoretical and conceptual work had been anticipated by Larmor, FitzGerald, Poincaré, and, perhaps most fully, Lorentz, who published his own paper, ‘Electromagnetic phenomena in a system moving with any velocity smaller than that of light’, just a year before Einstein).

Yeah, Special Relativity was really a “ripe” theory, and which would have emerged within a few years even if Einstein hadn’t come up with it. What made Einstein such a big deal was that, first, he came up with Special Relativity and two other groundbreaking fundamental ideas (the explanations for the photoelectric effect and Brownian motion) all in the same year, and second, his later development of General Relativity, which really wasn’t ripe at all before his work.

I stand corrected! Hilariously corrected!:D:D:D