Friday, May 28, 2010

Reunions Coverage: Explaining the Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator in the world, has attracted attention for both the groundbreaking scientific discoveries it may yield and the existential threat it is said by some to present.

Associate physics professor James Olsen spent most of his speaking time on Friday afternoon explaining the scientific importance of the LHC to a large crowd in McDonnell Hall, but he sought first to dispel the notion that the facility is a "doomsday device" that might create a black hole which would consume the Earth. To this end, he referred the audience to the helpful website ("Nope," the site informs us.)

After outlining the mechanics of the LHC in terms that go beyond this writer's ken, Olsen also justified the project's hefty cost after a query from a self-described economics major, citing its relevance to GPS and medical imaging technology.

"Are you having fun?" an audience member interrupted.

"I'm having a blast," Olsen responded.

by Nick Elan