In 2008, before the big Higgs Boson revelation in 2012, Professor Brian Cox hosted a 12-episode audio podcast (some of it is on video) where he took celebrities on a tour of CERN with the understanding that once they turn the Large Hadron Collider on, the public will not be allowed to tour this space again for at least ten years because of the radiation. CERN has several experiments going on, like Atlas, the one Brian works on, but we also get to tour other projects like CMS. The guests are wide ranging from famous actors like John Barrowman, to comedians like Simon Munnery and Kevin Eldon, to radio producers like Chris Morris, to Top Gear‘s Quentin Willson. I have to say though, the best episode is with Reverend Victor Stock, where he and Brian discuss how religion and science are similar. Although Brian is adamant that CERN is not a cathedral because CERN is trying to change a world view rather than reinforce one, he is intrigued by Victor’s idea that cathedrals are laboratories of the spirit.
During the podcast episodes, we learn of some of the big mysteries on the minds of CERN’s scientists, like what is the point of a neutrino (which is the same as an electron but heavier) and why is gravity such a weak force? Is it because it’s dissipated across more dimensions that the dimensions we are aware of? This could suggest more dimension than up/down, forward/backward, left/right. There could also be other universes. Brian explains that if our universe is on a piece of paper and all the forces (except maybe gravity) and light only affect that piece of paper, there could be another universe inches from your head and you wouldn’t be able to perceive it.
Did you know?
- They throw out 99+% of collision data because it’s too much data to store?
- The Higgs Boson not only gives other things mass but it gives itself mass.
- Photons are one of the few particles that don’t interact with each other.
- Time moves 7,000 times more slowly for the protons going around the LHC. If you sent a hamster around, it would live 7,000 years.
- CERN’s budget is that of a small university: less than a billion pounds. Comparatively, the Vauxhall Vectra car took a billion and a half pounds to create.
- A Linear Collider is being built. Countries had to agree that they would make just one more machine because it’s so expensive.
That mind-blowing information all said, the most fun part of this podcast is hearing the reaction of each guest as they walk through the blue door to see the Large Hadron Collider.
- “Oh, I say! Yes.” –Rev. Victor Stock
- “Oh my Lordy. Shiiii….” –Simon Munnery
- “Wow…That’s an understatement.” –Quentin Willson
- “It came with a kit, didn’t it? A collider kit?” –Kevin Eldon
You can listen to the CERN podcast on iTunes.