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Why the LHC may be beaten to the Bang

While the Large Hadron Collider sits idle somewhere beneath the Alps, the American Tevatron Accelerator is making strides. But does it have a rap video?

2 min read

The Big Bang was supposed to have happened last year.

Then the Large Hadron Collider blew a fuse that had been wired by a couple of teenagers from Turkmenistan (I'm kidding. They were actually from the backstreets of Vilnius.) and had to be shut down for major repairs.

Images: Where particles, physics theories collide
Click image for gallery on the Large Hadron Collider. Maximilien Brice for CERN

Meanwhile, it seems, physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., have been tinkering with their Tevatron.

The Tevatron doesn't have the scale of the Large Hadron Collider. But it does seem to have one small advantage: it's actually working. Yes, those beams of protons are smashing giddily into some antiprotons coming in the other direction. And, would you believe it, the Fermilab folks may be stumbling into some taxpayer dollars.

"We were looking at huge budget cuts last year, and now we are hoping to get stimulus package money and scrambling to see the best way to use it," Fermilab senior scientist Joe Lykken told the "Associated Press".

The Associated Press also quoted another scientist, Dmitri Denisov, as saying the probability of the Tevatron finding the Higgs Boson, the "God particle," is "between 50 percent and 90 percent."

I have had serious misgivings in the past about this Big Bang adventure. To some extent, I was concerned that scientists never really know quite what they're doing. But much more worrying was the disturbing rap video produced by some of the CERN staff working on the LHC.

You see, these Fermi folks seems far more grounded, no? CC Lotzman Katzman

So before throwing my weight behind the Tevatron's come-from-behind attempt to blow up the world in one almighty bang, I thought I'd do a YouTube search to see whether Fermilab's scientists might also have committed their inner Michael Jacksons to film.

The best (or worst, depending on your bent), appears to be this video, called "Accelerating Science". It does have more than a smidgen of early rap about it. And there is a very difficult moment when a yellow boot gives a purple beam a kick.

However, I think we can be more forgiving of this movie. It was made in 1992. And the fact that Fermilab attempted some rap beats all those years ago suggests that these are people who keep the curve behind them and never pretend they are Lot's Wife. It might also suggest to some that the Large Hadron Collider rappers were not exactly original.

How can one not be swayed by the words of Jacobo Konigsberg, a physicist from the University of Florida, who is working with Fermilab: "It's really what we live for, to have the opportunity to embark on such crazy quests."

Go crazy, Tevatron. Blow us up in style (again, kidding. Well, maybe).