We're still here! If you're not a geek then you probably didn't know that they test fired the Large Hadron Collider today despite lawsuits trying to stop it because of fears that it might create a man-made black hole under the 17 mile site..
Although the chances are very remote, some European physicists place the odds at something like 50 million to 1. For a comparison, the odds of winning the lotto here in California is about 23 million to 1.
This reminds me of people fearing that detonating a atomic device would start an un-stoppable chain reaction destroying the earth back in the 40's. And no, I don't remember it personally! :)
Here's some big numbers related from this experiment: (from wired.com)
Particle physics is complicated. Tweets are not. So, naturally, answering your questions about the Large Hadron Collider in Twitter format, i.e. 140 characters or less, could help you understand some physics.
Q: WTF is a Large Hadron Collider?
A: Hadrons are the parent family for protons and neutrons. The collider will smash protons together to see what they're made of.
Q: What are ATLAS and CMS and all these other acronyms?
A: They are particle detectors. ATLAS and CMS are the big ones. Each detector is designed to carry out a set of experiments.
Q: How does the Large Hadron Collider work?
A: It smashes particles moving at near the speed of light together. Then, detectors look for very rare particles in the wreckage.
Q: Is smashing things together to look for progressively smaller and rarer particles really how particle physics is done?
A: More or less: yes. Theoretical physicists work out the math. The experiments get run to see whose math matches the world.
Q: Gimme the stats on the Collider? Factoid stats.
A: 17 miles around. 9,000 magnets. 7,000 scientists. $10 billion. Operating temp: -456.25 F. Power used: 120 MW. Network: 1.8+Gb/s.
Q: Who paid for the Large Hadron Collider?
A: You did! But not nearly as much as your European cousins. The US contribution stands at $531 million. Total cost: $10 billion.
Q: How does a particle detector work?
A: They work like digital cameras with 150 megapixels taking snapshots 600 million times a second! Then algorithms look for interesting stuff.
Q: Is there an end 'product/goal' that the average Joe will eventually see from these experiments? ie:teleportation?
A: Not directly, but confirmation that physicists understand the universe would be nice. And you never know. The engineering can lead to other things.
Q: When you smash particles at nearly the speed of light isn't that going to release a lot of energy?
A: Yes. The highest-energy collisions will reach 14 trillion electron volts.
Q: How many particles are actually colliding?
A: Hacked Wikipedia: The beam pipes contain 1.0×10-9 grams of hydrogen, which
would fill the volume of one grain of fine sand.
Q: Is the Large Hadron Collider a threat to human civilization and the existence of the Earth?
A: No. Einstein's relativity says it's impossible. And, just in case, studies of highly-energetic cosmic rays hitting earth rule it out, too.
Does the general population really care? Not really...I just got off the phone with my friend and she says, "I'd rather be watching project runway!" :) Good Night.