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Large Hadron Collider- how do you explain it to a 4 year old.....

(26 Posts)
junkcollector Wed 10-Sep-08 12:05:14

and me......

Bink Wed 10-Sep-08 12:10:02

One thing you could do is listen (yourself) to Brian Cox (one of the CERN scientists)'s talk on Youtube - here if link works - it's quite short, then distill bits that your 4yo can get hold of. Have to say it left me with a few unanswered questions ... such as why particles at only 99.99999999r% of the speed of light? But I got enough out of that to answer 7yo dd's questions.

There are probably other online potted explanations as well - do a search?

Twiglett Wed 10-Sep-08 12:11:13

mad scientists

big tube

bad things

world go boom..... or not

WideWebWitch Wed 10-Sep-08 12:11:54

Hasn't even crossed my mind to explain it to mine! And I am too scared to google much!

MerlinsBeard Wed 10-Sep-08 12:12:47

its a massive tube under the ground that scientists will use to crash things into other

junkcollector Wed 10-Sep-08 12:43:55

Dp showed him pictures and have to say it does look very exciting and James Bondish so he's got interested. Thanks for suggestions - 'massive tube, crashing things, mad scientists, world go boom' uhm...might create more questions than answers for a 4 year old who has 'an escape plan' in case of flooding (we live on a hill!).

Will definitely check out the You tube link, thanks.

CissyCharlton Wed 10-Sep-08 12:47:16

They are trying to work out mass, essentially what sticks matter together. If you hit yourself with a foam hammer and then a real hammer you may get the point, but perhaps don't give that example to a four year old grin.

PrimulaVeris Wed 10-Sep-08 12:53:03

Sending really, really tiny bits of stuff round a massive tube at high speed and smashing them together. Then the bits left behind give us clues to what the whole world (ie universe) is made of

VintageGardenia Wed 10-Sep-08 12:55:45

I clicked on this thread to get an explanation for myself. I expect I am alone though...

VintageGardenia Wed 10-Sep-08 12:55:46

I clicked on this thread to get an explanation for myself. I expect I am alone though...

cmotdibbler Wed 10-Sep-08 12:57:47

They want to find the tiniest things that make up everything. So they need to split up the smallest things that they can make, and the easiest way to do that is to make them go really, really, really fast and then let them smash into each other. Then the bits fly apart, and hopefully they'll be able to measure what comes out.

Bink - cos you can't make things go faster than the speed of light, and its really hard to get things with mass to go that fast as things start to go a bit weird as you get closer to the speed of light for reasons that I can explain if you really want

LapinOnTheEventHorizon Wed 10-Sep-08 13:03:14

The scientists want to see what happens when special small things called "protons" bump into each other.

Imagine you had ten of your friends, and you all ran round in a big circle, faster and faster. Then take another ten friends, and they run in a circle INSIDE your circle, but going the other way. Then make their circle go across your circle. At some point, your team are going to bump in their team!

Now, if you bump into a friend running the other way, you will just fall over grin but the scientists don't know what will happen when the protons bump into each other - they might go boom! or they might create something brand new.

And that's the LHC!

MerlinsBeard Wed 10-Sep-08 13:06:26

lol @ lapins proper explaination!!, my 5 yo was happy with m yone liner below(or above depending how you read iT)!!!

Twiglett Wed 10-Sep-08 14:36:03

and there we have it "they might go boom or they might create something brand new" ... like the apocalypse mwahahahahahahahahaahaahahahaaaa


junkcollector Wed 10-Sep-08 15:06:07

Brilliant lapin- might invite some friends and neighbours round for LHC party and try and re-create that.

LapinOnTheEventHorizon Wed 10-Sep-08 15:43:08

Take photos! grin

MrsWeasley Wed 10-Sep-08 15:46:42

older DD came home shouting "Were doomed the world is ending, we are going to be sucked into a big black hole."

DD2 asked if we would need our coats grin

CapricaSix Thu 11-Sep-08 08:13:51

VintageGardenia - me too! grin

dd not even aware of it.

Can I ask, is there reallY a likelihood that a black hole could be created or weird stuff happen or is that just hype?
It worries me that the scientists who don't believe that are saying "We don't really know what's going to happen," and "Anything could go wrong, this has never been done before." hmm

Also, i read that the tube or the particles or something will get 100,000 times hotter than the sun. If that's true, how the hell do they contain that in a tube under the ground?!

morningpaper Thu 11-Sep-08 08:19:50

Look it up on Children's newsround on BBC website

morningpaper Thu 11-Sep-08 08:20:14


MadameCastafiore Thu 11-Sep-08 08:21:33

Why would you want to explain it to a 4 year old?

Sorry my 8 year old is oblivious as is my 3.5 year old - there are some things that need to stay in the can with the worms!

junkcollector Thu 11-Sep-08 10:41:28

Why yes, How unreasonable of me to want to encourage my child's enquiring mind. hmm

MrVibrating Thu 11-Sep-08 12:36:08

Ooo I can't resist. This probably belongs in Geeky Stuff though...

In theory, you can create a micro black hole by smashing particles together. But you probably need even more energy than the LHC can muster. I say probably, because some explanations of the way space works mean that the collisions in the LHC will have enough energy. So if they are created we will have learnt something really important. That is what scientists mean when they say they don't really know what is going to happen.

But micro black holes are not the huge, star-swallowing things that live at the centre of galaxies. Due to a thing called Hawking Radiation, all black holes eventually decay. And the smaller the black hole, the quicker it decays, so a micro black hole probably only hangs around for 10 seconds or so. Of course Hawking Radiation has never actually been observed either...

But there is still no need to worry, because collisions of a much higher energy to those in the LHC happen every day due to ultra high-energy cosmic rays. So when they say 'nothing like this has been done before' what they actually mean is 'nobody has yet seen what happens when this is done'.

It is the particles that get really hot when they collide, and they are really tiny so that is not too much of a problem. The difficult bit is keeping contol of them while they are being accelerated - they go round the 17 mile circuit 10,000 times a second.

Can you tell I have a bit of time on my hands at the moment grin - sorry jura, I'll do some important stuff now.

Blu Thu 11-Sep-08 12:57:38

"Sorry my 8 year old is oblivious as is my 3.5 year old - there are some things that need to stay in the can with the worms! "

Why 'need'? I think it's fine if they are oblivous, but I told DS (just 7) about it because I knew he would really really want to know. We looked at the BBC website about it...he understood about the particle accelorator and the 'parts of atoms''s like sex education - they understand the bits they can understand and te rest will follow later.

This could be one of the big historical moments in science - children love to be part of that...depending on how old you are you might remember the first moon-walk, the first concorde flight, etc - it's being part of our world!

jurahasfoundthehiggsboson Thu 11-Sep-08 14:05:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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