On Wednesday last week, the world’s most powerful atom-smashing machine was turned on, to huge media excitement. The BBC feted it as “Big Bang Day”. Schoolchildren are rumoured to have gone to school in the fear that the world would end, and they would never see their parents again. The great day arrived. The vast machine was fired up… and nothing happened, apart from swathes of happy scientists grinning over the results as the machine behaved just as it was supposed to.
Of course, the world was never going to end on Wednesday 10th – and there weren’t going to be any Big Bangs that day, either. You can think of this machine, the Large Hadron Collider, as the world’s largest scalectrix-style car racing kit, the sort where two cars race around a circular track and risk colliding at cross-over points. But last Wednesday there was only one car on the track, and the other car won’t be running for a month or two. So pencil in the REAL Big Bang Day sometime around fireworks night. But be assured, any bangs you hear that night won’t be from the atom-smashers in Geneva. Their “Big” Bangs will be so tiny that you need huge instruments to detect them.
Meanwhile, this great experiment has got people talking. It’s meant to find the Higgs Boson, which some call the “God particle”. It will help us to recreate conditions that last existed less than a split second after the creation of the universe, at least the way scientists think the universe was created. Professor Stephen Hawking once said that if we knew the exact description of that, we’d “know the mind of God”. So this experiment raises Big Questions.
What is this LHC?
What’s it got to do with the Big Bang?
Is it in danger of destroying the earth?
Why is the Higgs called the “God particle”?
Are we playing God or prying into God’s business by doing these experiments?
To find out more, why not come to Shafts in the Student Union at 6 pm on Thursday 2nd October? Revd Dr Gareth Leyshon, an Associate Chaplain at the University of Glamorgan who also holds a PhD in Astrophysics, will explore the big physical and metaphysical questions raised by the “Big Bang” experiment, and you can come and ask questions too – if of course, the universe is still here next month!
More info: 01443 654060 / email@example.com