Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Marmite" exists, probably

My brother (why are my wife and family all cleverer than me ?) tells me that "dark matter" is implied in all the modern cosmological models, it's just that no-one knows what it is: "At one point, they thought it was neutrino flux, but that doesn't account for enough energy. Maybe it's The Force." I await further information.

Meanwhile, Professor Brian Cox (billed by the Sunday Express as former drummer for D:ream - keyboards, according to the Mail) did a broadcast last night on the Doomsday Marmite Machine and explained that it's all about trying to find the giant and unstable Higgs particle. Even if successfully created in the device, its existence will only be confirmed by the myriad better-known particles into which it disintegrates - only the intense pressure of the early Universe was capable of sustaining the so-called "God particle."

In the Sunday Express article today, the seemingly perma-upbeat (if only we all had his secret) Cox tells us that there are 12 sub-atomic particles, yet I could have sworn that the TV programme listed 16 in a four-by-four arrangement - Cox struggled to recall the last one, which turned out to be the gluon.

Irrelevantly (perhaps), some shots of the Large Hadron Collider remind me of a wonderfully atmospheric scene in "Alien":


Hairy Arsed Bloke said...

All the coverage has reminded me of Douglas Adams quote:

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.


Welcome, HAB. Douglas Adams's material is effectively a philosophy degree course, except he'd have cringed at the thought of HHGG being on anyone's curriculum. And yes, maybe the Higgs particle is there to teach us a lesson in humility.

Wolfie said...

Its not called a Bozon for nothing you know.


A Bozo Collider - I like it.

Anonymous said...

o.k., so its like this. everything was squashed into this tiny space, so it should have collapsed in on itself really, like a black hole only bigger, but somehow an unimaginably large amount of energy blasted all this stuff into space, photons first. and 99.9999% of this stuff whizzed through space so fast we can't see it anymore. but a tiny little spec of it is bobbing up and down in space and coagulated to make stars and planets, like flotsam and jetsam.
and we've looked at that not entirely representative bit of the stuff that coagulated to make planet earth and said "aha, now we know how the whole universe was made!".

isn't that a bit like taking a magnifying glass and looking at a speck of sawdust floating in the middle of the atlantic ocean and saying "aha! i surmise from this that 6 years ago an ocean liner called the QEII passed this very spot". sounds like a weak excuse for public funding to me. still, most of these people couldn't function outside of academia.

Tim Norfolk said...

That's why the mathematical models are so wonderful. After all, the crucial piece of Newton's Laws of Motion were that the same forces that caused objects to fall on Earth must be those that kept the planets in orbit.

Ignorance is excusable, dunning people who actually know more than you do is not.