Thursday, January 21, 2016

Half Understood Names: Large Hadron Collider

Alice is curious about the LHC
Large Hadron Collider

Atlas: It’s one of those expressions that’s sometimes on the news, so a lot of people have heard of it, but not many can explain exactly what it is.

Alice: Well, it must be big, and it must involve impacts.

Atlas: At 27 kilometers in circumference it’s big, in fact it’s the biggest scientific tool in the world. And yes, it facilitates collisions.

Alice: Collisions between? That’s the bit I don’t get.

Atlas: Collisions between hadrons.

Alice: Hadrons?

Atlas: Hadrons are two types: baryons and mesons. These contain quarks and antiquarks. Then there are various kinds of leptons and bosons.

Alice: Suddenly the vocabulary load is too dense if you’re not an atomic physicist.
In a sentence of 21 words, seven are unknown to someone not familiar with the standard theory. No wonder the lay person has only a glimmer of what the Large Hadron Collider does. Two clear words sandwich a dense expression.

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