Putting Lipstick on a Higgs

515cern.xlarge1lhc_resSo I couldn’t resist a little mashup of today’s headlines. Putting aside the ridiculous Wag the Dog and hide-the-ball media strategy of the McCain camp, what the nerd in me is most excited about today is that the Large Hadron Collider is now operational. With this, the search for the elusive Higgs boson gets underway, and the folks at CERN take away Fermilab’s bragging rights for having the fastest and most smashingest particle accelerator around.

While datacenters filled with thousands of servers may be cool, the LHC is a true example of Big Iron. This $8B device with a 17 mile circumference is so exquisitely sensitive, that the electronics that control the path of the accelerated particles around the ring have to account for tidal forces exerted by the moon since one side of the giant ring could be a fraction of an inch higher than the other, depending upon the position of the moon.

Finally, I have to give Google a tip-of-the-hat for their logo today, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the concerns that some folks have had that the activation of the LHC could lead to the creation of a black hole that might destroy the Earth. Well, whatever else goes on, I hope they find that boson.