Yesterday scientists for the first time employed CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to smash protons together to attempt to understand the earliest moments of the creation of the universe. Everything about the Large Hadron Collider is mind-boggling, from its stated purpose to its $10 billion cost to its 27 kilometer–over 16 mile–circular underground “racetrack” around which protons, in essence, play chicken at over 99% the speed of light. For some reason, I do not know why, my favorite LHC factoid from yesterday’s 50%-power test is that “[t]he [photon] beams collided with a combined energy of seven trillion electron volts, about 3.5 times more powerful than the previous world record.” Seven trillion electron volts. Seven trillion electron volts! I just love saying it. Maybe it was only 6.85 trillion electron volts and they rounded up? Scientists wouldn’t fudge the number, would they?
I’m seriously considering grading all future course work on the trillion electron-volt scale.