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Keeping up with the LHC
If the large hadron collider turned its attention to the universe’s greatest mystery, Kim Kardashian’s butt, it’d look like this.

Forget the new season of Keeping up with the Kardashians, if you want real drama don’t miss the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre next week.

However, when compared with all that Kardashian flesh, it’s admittedly hard to get excited by a program that includes such sexy topics as “Electric, Magnetic and Spin-Dependent Dynamical Polarizabilities of Hadrons”.

That’s a shame because, in many eyes, the highlight of ICHEP 2012 will be the presentation of findings from the ATLAS and CMS teams from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and the possible definitive proof of a so-called “god particle”.

If absolutely none of the previous sentence made sense to you, all you really need to know is atoms are made of smaller, sub-atomic particles. For reals.

The Standard Model of particle physics describes the behaviour of these little guys and, in doing so, pretty much explains why the universe is the way it is.

But for the past four decades, the validity of this model hinged on the existence of a theoretical particle dubbed the Higgs boson, which endows elementary particles with mass.

Without it, the Standard Model would require a major rethink and everything we thought we knew about the universe would be called into question; finding it would be one of the most significant discoveries in history.

Now, you find trace evidence of sub-atomic particles when you smash larger particles together at extremely high energies, which is the sort of thing they do for fun at the LHC — the largest particle accelerator in the world.

Essentially, it’s a multi-billion dollar ring-shaped tunnel that runs for 27km under the border between France and Switzerland.

Two teams, whose names are best summarised with the acronyms ATLAS and CMS, have set about finding the Higgs boson by investigating what happens when you smash protons together at teraelectronvolt energies.

The teams crunched the numbers from their respective experiments and the collated data will be presented for the first time at ICHEP.

As far as their importance to humanity goes, these results are approximately 2 x 10²³ times more significant than the results of any DNA test to establish who Khloe Kardashian’s biological father is.

Unfortunately, said importance is inversely proportional to the general public’s interest and exponentially more people will tune in for the latter result, should Kris ever convince Khloe to go through with it.

What we have here is a fundamental public-relations failure on the part of ICHEP, but it is easily remedied.

If the Higgs boson provides a mechanism for giving elementary particles mass, is it not reasonable to theorise that the god particle is the key to explaining the mass of Kim Kardashian’s buttocks, which up until now has defied the laws of physics?

If ICHEP had taken the search for the Higgs boson to its logical conclusion, there is no doubt the general public would be clamouring to hear the results from the LHC.

Follow The Wire editor Ben O'Shea on twitter

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