Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider have confirmed the existence of The Force. And no, those caps aren’t there in error. This is the Force, the binding, enveloping metaphysical framework of Star Wars fame. Midi-chlorians and all.
Unfortunately given the date — April 1, in case you haven’t noticed — and its traditional associations with “hilarious” nonsense, we’re not allowing ourselves to get too excited. But even as the internet’s collective eyes roll at Google and Sony’s April Fool’s hijinks, it’s hard not to appreciate the work that has gone into Cern’s own tomfoolery — and the fact that it appears in full, relatively straight-faced, on the research institute’s own official website.
In the press release for this “discovery” Cern’s Cian O’Luanaigh writes that “new insights into the fundamental structure of the universe” were gleamed almost immediately after running the LHC at the higher energy of 13 TeV for the first time.
“The Force is what gives a particle physicist his powers,” said a Cern theorist “Ben Kenobi” of the University of Mos Eisley, Tatooine. “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us; and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” The researchers added that practical applications of the discovery include “long-distance communication, influencing minds, and lifting heavy things out of swamps”.
Although the 570-word announcement is largely an exercise in Star Wars puns, obscure TIE Fighter references and quotes from “dark-matter researcher Dave Vader”, there is a serious side, if look for one, you chose to.
Cern said on Tuesday that the LHC remains “on track” to restart at its new, much higher upper energy limit, after a short circuit occurred in one of its connections due to a metal fragment becomes lodged in the diode. “These diodes are part of the protection system for the LHC’s superconducting magnets,” Cern explained. “They divert the current into a parallel circuit in the event of a quench, i.e. when the magnet changes from a superconducting to a conducting state.”
But now LHC researchers say that they managed to melt the fragment using a 400 amps blast of current, and the short circuit is fixed. More tests are required to make researchers sure the machine is ready for rebooting, but signs are good that the largest particle collider in the world will “beam” for the first time very soon. Considering we’re talking about a machine able to fire particles at 671,000,000 mph around a 17-mile circuit, generating temperatures at least 100,000 times as hot as the Sun, and uncovering genuinely new and fundamental facts about the universe, that’s in reality a little more impressive than a green puppet pretending to lift a make-believe spaceship out of a pond.