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Hello, and welcome to my art blog from Tasmania, Australia. I've spent time as a plant geneticist, teacher's assistant, painter, glass artist and book illustrator. I'm usually in the studio, the classroom or the lab. If you'd like to see more, please try the links to my folio page or email me at silvergumstudio@yahoo.com.au. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sketchbook (and the Large Hadron Collider)

In the interests of getting out of the studio, last week I attended a public lecture on the Large Hadron Collider by a visiting UK physicist.
In case that sounds a bit desperate, just think: could you resist a lecture entitled "Uncovering the Mysteries of the Universe with the Large Hadron Collider"?  I couldn't, and here's what I learnt.  The LHC is a $6 billion circular tunnel 27 km in circumference, built 100m below the city of Geneva. (My mind effortlessly retains things I don't need to remember, so I'm pretty sure this is accurate).  It contains the best vacuum in the universe.  You thought space was a vacuum - forget it!  The LHC is way  more vacuum-y.  It's got, like, nothing in it.  Except protons, which are whizzed around in both directions at 10,000 revs/second so they smash into each other and generate smaller subatomic particles, which are then discovered.  So far, the LHC has discovered nothing but the quark, which we knew all about already.  (Apparently).  However, the speaker remained optimistically convinced that the LHC would soon uncover the secrets of the universe.  He showed a pie chart which revealed that only 4% of the universe is matter.  Some 20 odd percent is dark matter, which is invisible, and over 70% is Dark Energy.  At this point I had a sudden, terrible craving for chocolate.  The pie chart was coloured purple, like a Cadbury wrapper, and this combined with the words "Dark" and "Energy" just wrecked my concentration, so I don't remember anything after that.

The reason I mention all this is because World Science just reported that the LHC has found a theoretical particle called the Higgs Boson.  It hasn't really.  The data aren't significant, so don't be fooled !  Remember, you heard it here first!

The picture above is a sketchbook scene from the sea wall at Sandy Bay, where everyone was out enjoying a rare beam of winter sunshine.


  1. Wow, I need that vacuum at my place LOL, I wouldn't have to clean for yonks!
    Love the dogs.

  2. Wow... I saw a program on this not long ago....apparently protons bombard us all the time, we just can't see them or feel them... interesting stuff...if I remember rightly they are trying to make protons smash into each other to create energy.... unfortunately I remember bits of info and then forget key points then jumble it about and come up with something completely off track...Didn't know that the Cadbury's choclate factory was there too...yummm :P Love the sketch just delightful.... have a good day... :)

  3. Thanks Carole and Catherine! As a sequel to this post, I watched a show on SBS called "Is everything we know about the universe wrong?" which further mentioned DARK FLOW, an energy pulling galaxies in the same direction, possibly originating from another universe. You had to sit through an hour of simulated explosions, a film of a bag expanding and equations being written against a background of stars to get to that point though - I'll stick with the public lectures next time!