International boffins are vying with one another in a race to topsy-turvinate the world of physics this week, with a flurry of results due in imminently from radical fabric-of-time-and-space-rending experiments at the Large Hadron Collider - most brutally powerful particle-pummeller ever assembled by the human race.
“It is impressive how fast the experiments have arrived at these results, which deal with very complex physics,” says atom-smashing bigwig Sergio Bertolucci in a statement issued ahead of blockbusting boffinry announcements scheduled for Thursday.
“The experiments are competing with each other to publish first, but then working together to assemble the full picture and cross-check their results. It’s a beautiful example of how competition and collaboration is a key feature of this field of research.”
In recent weeks, the mighty Collider has changed modes. When initially fired up following lengthy repairs (necessitated by a catastrophic electro-blast-triggered helium superfluid explosion mishap in 2007) the LHC was colliding protons. Lately, however, it has instead been powering heavier lead ions around its twin 27km magnetic motorways, and crossing the two streams over inside its huge underground detector-instrument experiment caverns. This causes the ions to crash into one another head on while travelling within a whisker of the speed of light. (See the vid above.)
The conditions created during the tiny but incredibly, inconceivably violent particle prangs replicate those seen at the very dawn of time itself, very soon after the Big Bang, in an era when the entire gigantic vastness of the universe was all somehow packed down so small that it was smaller than one of today's atoms.
Regular atoms are made up of such things as protons and neutrons, which could of course never have existed back in the immediately post-Big Bang era. Instead, the quarks – which make up the protons and neutrons – nowadays firmly stuck together with gluons, rambled about madly in unstructured, elemental-particulate free love style in a setup known as a "quark-gluon plasma".