Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No black holes, but a pocket-sized sun

black hole

An international team of scientists fired up the Large Hadron Collider this morning. Alas, no black holes were created by the largest machine on the planet. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little disappointed. What an amazing thing to see - every bit of matter and light near earth being sucked in on itself. What if it went on for days or weeks! It would make for great television, aside from the fact that all the broadcast waves would be sucked in as well. Every generation secretly wishes to experience the Armageddon. [Or maybe that's just Catholics...] Not some stupid, avoidable Armageddon like war or climate change, but some really dramatic, weird apocalypse from right out of left field. Something theatrical! That's Armageddon I can believe in.

Since we're not all being crushed into an infinitely tiny mathematical point somewhere below the Swiss Alps, we have decades of awesome discoveries about the mechanics of the universe to look forward to. That's pretty neat too.

heliotron

The beauty pictured here is neither a super-mega-atom-obliteration-machine or a bad flashback about surly mechanical snakes. It is a heliotron magnetic field containment device built in Japan to test plasma fusion confinement.

The Large Helical Device (大型ヘリカル装置, Ōgata Herikaru Sōchi) is a fusion research device in Toki, Gifu, Japan and is the largest superconducting stellarator in the world and employs a heliotron magnetic field originally developed in Japan. The objective of the project is to conduct fusion plasma confinement research in a steady-state in order to elucidate possible solutions to physics and engineering problems in helical plasma reactors. The LHD uses neutral beam injection, ion cyclotron radio frequency (ICRF), and electron cyclotron resonance heating (ECRH) to heat the plasma, much like conventional tokamaks.

Check out this animated shot inside the reactor.

2 comments:

Fritz said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiSkyEyBczU

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