Narrow mirage

Belarusian scientists take part in the experiment with the Large Hadron Collider
Belarusian scientists take part in the experiment with the Large Hadron Collider.

Near Geneva the most powerful elementary particle accelerator in the world was launched — the Large Hadron Collider. Everything was under the plan, without sucking of the planet into a black hole, without a big or even a small explosion. At least, the swans, which took fancy to Leman, the Lake of Geneva, didn’t even shudder and continued to nibble bread, given by tourists. Apocalypse adherents probably feel disappointment...

This grandiose scientific experiment is compared in terms of its significance with the flight of Yuri Gagarin to space. The scientists hope to give the answer to the question on the origin of the universe and to make many other less understandable for wide audience, but as important discoveries for humanity. It is pleasant that Belarusian science took part in it: more than thirty national engineers and scientists work in the international brigade, serving the experiment.

Half a year ago the word “collider” meant for many people the same as “synchrophasotron” for a child in a kindergarten. It means nothing. Now people write books about it (Dan Brown), sing songs (Kate Macalpine), a film about it will be probably shot in the Hollywood, and I operate by this notion so confidently in the talk with the involved person, a director of the National centre of physics of particles and high energy Nikolay Shumeyko, as if I studied the collider working principle at school. Besides, the professor Shumeyko is sure that a corresponding chapter will soon appear in the physics textbook.

— Is it possible to say that the experiment was successful?

— In a sense, yes. The Large Hadron Collider has in fact started its work. A proton beam was for the first time conducted along the whole 27–kilometers’ accelerator ring. As for now, the experiment was carried out in a test mode. Some parameters, for example, the number of particles and energy, will be increased during the research.

— Does it mean that there will be more sensations from the scientists?

— The accelerator in Geneva will start functioning in a normal mode. The scientists need time to process obtained data. You shall understand that these are gigabytes and even terabytes of information. I think, that it will be possible to make the first conclusions only in several months. And we, physicists, got accustomed to confirm data reliability. It is necessary to carry out two independent experiments and to compare whether their results are the same. So, in my opinion, you should await news only in half a year. On the whole, the Large Hadron Collider is calculated for 10 years, and the data will be processed during 10–15 years.

— Thousands of letters from all over the world come to the European Center of Nuclear Research (CERN), which supervises this project. People think, that the scientists crossed a forbidden territory and they are simply afraid for their lives. Such letters were also sent to editors offices of many newspapers. What can you answer to their authors?

— I often here incompetent, emotional opinions. Uncertainty really frightens. You can be absolutely calm. The accelerator safety systems were checked many times, to a certain degree exactly this fact caused delay of its commissioning for several years. Besides, there are no fissile, radioactive materials, as at the atomic power plant.

— In which manner do Belarusian specialists take part in the global project?

— Two our engineers take direct participation in the device start, at the present moment they are in the CERN. The other — several tens of people — are getting ready to process the data, they will solve physical tasks.

— And what is our interest?

— We take part in getting new knowledge head-to-head with the biggest scientific world centers. We will become co-authors of scientific discoveries, if they are made by results of work of the Large Hadron Collider. It touches upon not only science. We obtain access to the newest technologies, which are applied and will be applied — including in our national economy. There is also an advantage for you, journalists: it was enough to connect with me, for example, you don’t have to call to Switzerland, America or Russia in order to obtain information...

Igor Slavinsky
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