Welcome to Science Now

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September 21, 2008

11:57 PM

Welcome to Science Now, a blog for Science and Medicine news at the College of William and Mary and beyond. I’m Mike Harper ’09, a pre-med, neuroscience major.

I have big plans for this blog; very big, vague plans. The focus of this blog will be science and medicine news, but don’t be discouraged. I’ll make things interesting and discuss issues that affect all of us (health care, environment, etc.). I’ll also write about my experiences as an undergraduate researcher and as I apply to medical school.

I hope this blog can be a forum for pre-meds, research students and everyone interested in how science relates to life. Feel free to post comments or email me at [email protected] for anything.

Last Wednesday, the Large Hadron Collider (no, not Hardon collider), successfully passed its first tests. The LHC is a $4.1 billion supercollider located at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland. The 27-kilometer ring is buried beneath the Alps and crosses the Franco-Swiss border.

The first particles were run through, but only at 1/10 of the energy that will be used in particle collisions. Collisions will start in the next few weeks, if all goes well with the remaining tests. The LHC was built to test many things but the initial focus for which it was funded is the hunt for the Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson is a proposed particle that has never been observed and is the missing piece of the puzzle to complete the Standard Model. The Higgs Boson is proposed as a fourth type of particle that can explain how the other three types obtain mass.

There are concerns that the collisions produced by the LHC could cause micro black holes, which could threaten to cause great damage, and some say spread and, you know, destroy the universe.

The Standard Model predicts that these micro black holes shouldn’t be able to form at the energy levels used. Under extensions of the Standard Model, that include extra-spatial dimensions, they may be possible — but I’d have to refer you to a real physicist for an explanation.

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