(Update: The LHC beam came full circle at last!)
The LHC first beam came and went. The LHC experiment itself is active right now, with about 3/8th of the ring active and 60,000 particles observed in one shot. Of course, it is set to increase to the full capacity eventually.
I am very proud to say that I have participated in the biggest scientific experiment ever undertaken by humanity no matter how indirect the method. Those of you out there who have not participated yet style yourselves supporters of science should hang your head in shame… Just kidding. Though you should really feel disappointed.
The main goals of the LHC experiment is put succinctly by Michael Sean Wright at his blog (which I happened to catch by chance).
Why did Matter triumph over Anti-Matter?
Why do particles have mass?
What is the nature Dark Matter?
What was the state of mass in the moments right after the Big Bang?
These are some of the questions entire cabals of scientists lose sleep over in their ceaseless pondering and amazement at the face of the universe in front of us. I am exhilarated to say the least. What will this experiment (the LHC experiment is, of course, a long term experiment. It is not about singular results obtainable over an experiment or two) teach us about the universe? What system of the world? I would have to be dead on the inside if such questions did not get my heart running!
McCain and Obama will be gone and done away with sooner or later. LHC experiments will remain with us so long as the human civilization thrives, perhaps changing the fundamental nature of how humanity sees the universe around themselves.
Here are some resources in case you are still interested in a bit of LHC first-beam catch up.
U.S. LHC blog.
LHC live blogging.
LHC webcast service (severely congested at the time of the first beam event. I had to switch to BBC livecast)
There are two big events from today to tomorrow, one of them truly big in the sense of its possible impact on humanity and the sciences, and the other one big in the sense that it is a release celebration of a book by one of my favorite authors hosted by one of the more interesting groups around today. Both of them will be on the net through live webcast, so anyone interested should set the alarm bells on their clocks today.
The first and the most important is the upcoming live webcast of CERN lab LHC first beam. The Large Hadron Collider went though so much drama and uncertainty (pun intended) from inception to its recent power-up, this event will be quite emotional for the people who worked on the project as well as the large portions of the members of scientific community at large (and there are lot of them, I assure you). The first *beaming* of the tens of kilometers large apparatus is set to begin at 10th September 2008 9am CEST (GMT+2), which roughly translates into around 10th of September 3am EST in NYC. Considering that the technical and scientific magnitude devoted to this project likely dwarfs that spent for building the Great Wall, it would be tragic for anyone even remotely interested in the advances of sciences to miss this significant event. I know I will be up and about in the night, despite the fact that I have early workday tomorrow. It is worth the anguish of a day without sleep I say! So please remember to make a ruckus and wake up members of your family in support of the sciences when the beam goes off. (Fermilab in U.S. is hosting a pajama party in honor of the event, though the registration is closed I am sorry to say)
The second even is the release party for the book Anathem by Neal Stephenson, hosted by the Long Now foundation. While Neal Stephenson might not be the greatest writer alive, he is certainly one of the most interesting. I preordered my copy from Amazon in a heartbeat when I heard that he was set on publishing a new book after a long period of inactivity. The Long Now foundation itself sounds as interesting as the man himself, focused around the concept/building of millennial clock. Those people should be well worth checking out if you are interested in humane pursuits that stretches beyond mere decades or centuries. I personally find such devotion to long-term pursuits to be very attractive in this day and age where vast majority of information seem to be relegated to the role of a junk food. Since the basic premise of the Anathem itself revolves around the millennial clock concept, the Long Now foundation is throwing a party of sorts in celebration of the release of them book, with some readings and performances that will be streamed through a live webcast at the Long Now website. The webcast is set to begin on 9th September at 7pm PST, so I guess it will be around 10pm EST in NYC (interestingly enough, the year is written as 02008 on the Long Now website. Maybe we should all begin adding zeros in front of our year marks from now on).
P.S. There is a teaser stream running at the LHC first-beam webcast site describing what they are doing at CERN. For some reason I can not stop thinking about the background music they used in the stream.