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Summary:

In the age-old quest for humankind to discover the secrets of the universe, humankind has progressed today as the Large Hadron Collider successfully smashed protons by zipping the subatomic particles around a 17-mile loop at speeds 99 percent of the speed of light.

CERN Scientists monitoring the LHC

In the age-old quest for humankind to discover the secrets of the universe, humankind has progressed today as the Large Hadron Collider successfully smashed protons by zipping the subatomic particles around a 17-mile loop at speeds that were about 99 percent of the speed of light. The goal, nothing less than to figure out how the universe works and what holds it together. What does this have to do with broadband, cloud computing or wireless? Frankly, I have no idea, but I’m convinced that such efforts advance technology, and act to inspire future generations of engineers and scientists.

Indeed, while it may not be apparent from my normal coverage, the LHC built by CERN represents why I spend my days writing about technology — not because I’m excited to play with the latest gadgets, but because I value the spirit of curiosity and discovery that leads scientists to spend $16 billion to build something that may (not will, but may) give us an inkling about how the universe works. And if it enables us to teleport, that’s cool, too. So if you’re interested (and how can you not be?), step away from the iPad coverage and check out these links:

  1. Stacey,

    The work being done at the Hadron Large Collider has the ability to impact those technologies (and many others) in truly profound ways. Understanding quantum theory more completely (by discovering the other particles that for example impart mass (Like the Higgs Boson)is a crucial step in finding a truly unified theory.

    Without Quantum Theory for example we wouldn’t have the ability to create the advanced chips that power our communications infrastructure.

    You’re right this news is critical for our ongoing search for this unified theory – getting clearer insights using tools the the LHC is likely to underpin the next generation of new tech and beyond.

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  2. And the world hasn’t ended yet! (Some dimwits claimed it would.)

    It’s unlikely that any new physics discovered at the LHC (higgsons, supersymmetry, etc.) will be technologically valuable, but valuable technology may well emerge from building and running the accelerator and the detectors strung along it. It’s always worth reminding people who doubt the practical value of such enterprises that the web was born at CERN.

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    1. I think of that as the lunar landing argument. Did we find much on the moon? Not really, but we learned a lot trying to get there.

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  3. This is an incredible project, and even though there may be a chance that it won’t yield the results scientists are after, it’s still bottom-line cool. Plus, there’s a lot to be gained from the tech that went into developing this experiment.

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  4. Actually, the research at CERN has a lot to do with the evolution of the Internet, providing significant contributions to the foundation that later resulted in broadband Internet, cloud computing, and wireless Internet.

    These experiments generate humongous amounts of data; in the infancy of high energy physics (late 60’s) this challenged the most powerful computers of the time. (I speak from personal experience.)

    It was the need to share this data between CERN and the Stanford Linear Accelerator that drove the development of protocols such as http:// by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. And it subsequently led to Stanford being a hotbed for development of companies such as Cisco. (If you take the SLAC tour they’ll remind you that one of the major contributions of High Energy Physics was the development of several Internet technologies.)

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