Come on Algernon, Press the Big Red Button and See What Happens!

I'm writing this piece of highly illuminating scientific drivel peppered with the odd sponsor placating materials reference in the sound and secure knowledge that it may never be read - sure, I have thought that for every one of the past 76 MyAZoM editorials, but this time it really is different.

By the time you've fished this out of your spam bin or read this online we may all be on our way to hell in a hand basket.

The ultimate boys toy, the LHC (Large Halfwitted Contraption) should by now have been fired up and the first collision of Hadrons observed, potentially followed by the generation of a big black hole that's sucked in most of France and Switzerland - OK so maybe it's worth $5bn of EEC money to rid the planet of dodgy cheese and yodelling but hey that's another story.

Now, you may ask why anyone would want to collide Hadrons at large speed? In my opinion what's more important is why anyone would come up with such a lame name for the fundamental particle?

It smacks of an upper class British twit from the 1963 edition of  "The Secret Seven go Quark Hunting"

....Lashings of ginger beer Hadron, jipes yes Algernon, let's chase each other around and around until we're sick. Top hole old chum…haven't had such fun since I was thrashed in the Balkans with stinging nettles by Whacker Tomlinson"

Why can't fundamental particles of matter have more interesting names that the public can relate to? If they were called something like, Freddie or Fannie, there would be more of a human element and considerably more interest from Joe Public.

It would be so much easier to imagine the fall out from collapsing a "sub-prime Freddie" into a "Defaulting Fannie" at light speed to create the Big-Paulson particle and fall out that blazes a trail of destruction throughout large swathes of North America.

OK enough, onto the insincere stab at weaving some materials technology into the last seven 'paras' I may ever write.

The key to it all is humble magnetism, but in the case of the LHC, it's humongous superconducting magnets. 24 of them spread around 17 miles of tunnels and all cooled to less than -271C. These babies are so powerful the CERN guys stick fridge reminders on them!


Last year some Fermilab scientists cocked up on some of the magnet maths or didn't buy enough iron filings to finish their tests and to quote the project leader, Dr. Lyn Evans, the resultant experimental observation was;

"There was a hell of a bang, the tunnel housing the machine filled with helium and dust and we had to call in the fire brigade to evacuate the place. The people working on the test were frightened to death"

I can't wait to hear his feedback on the horse ride to Armageddon should we all get a good look at the inside of a black hole!

But let's not be down hearted, let's focus on the positives. The fundamental technology has an excellent material science pedigree.

The LHC magnet coils are made of copper-clad niobium-titanium cables. Technology that was originally invented in the 1960s at the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, UK.

Jeepers Hadron, where's the tin helmet old chum?

Large Hadron Rap

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