By Gian Francesco Giudice
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Additional resources for A Zeptospace Odyssey, A Journey Into The Physics Of The LHC
We are full of admiration, imagining Galileo who, with his legendary arrogance and swaggering, quickly climbs up the spiral staircase of the Tower of Pisa. There, with a confident and mocking smile, he drops a heavy cannon ball and a light musket pellet out of the protruding side of the leaning tower. The two objects hit with perfect simultaneity the underlying meadow, greeted by the rejoicing of the crowd and by the fainting of some old university sages. Alas, this story is certainly false. With today’s knowledge, it was proved that Galileo could not have made this kind of public demonstration3.
Now the issue was to see whether Yukawa’s meson actually existed. The most powerful particle accelerator in the universe is the universe itself. Cosmic rays, mostly consisting of protons and nuclei, are accelerated by various astronomical sources up to enormous energies, and continuously bombard our atmosphere, penetrating down to the earth’s surface. Cosmic rays were the first resource used by physicists to search for new particles whose production requires high-energy collisions. To detect particles produced by cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere, physicists used cloud chambers.
Research in this direction is still in progress. 26 27 A. Pais, Inward Bound, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1986. G. Johnson, Strange Beauty, Knopf, New York 2000. 28 | A Z E P T O S PA C E O D Y S S E Y In spite of the fact that research on artificial production of anti-atoms has had, at the moment, little impact on the scientific world, it has aroused great interest in the public and the media. Antimatter has even been invoked as a viable energy source. ”28 Still antimatter remains one of the favourite subjects of science-fiction writers.