This week a small gnome called Kern will be extremely honoured to visit CERN in Switzerland.

Why am I so excited about visiting CERN? 

CERN is the world’s largest particle physics lab and is the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). On 30th March 2010 the LHC successfully smashed two proton beams travelling with 3.5 trillion electron volts of energy, resulting in a 7 trillion electron volt event. This event started us on the path to the expected discovery of the Higgs boson. 

Why does the Higgs boson interest me?

The Higgs boson is a hypothetical, massive subatomic particle with zero electric charge. It is postulated to interact with other particles in such a way as to impart mass to them.

In easier terms, all objects are hypothesised to have mass as a result of a field called the Higgs Field. Fields are made up of a class of particles known as bosons, so the Higgs Field is composed of groups of particles called Higgs bosons. A particle accelerator such as CERN can smash particles together at near light speed to try to create the correct conditions to isolate Higgs bosons so that they can be detected. If they are detected and their properties match those predicted by Peter Higg’s hypothesis, then we will have an explanation for why matter has mass.

For a gnome studying weight, precision measurements and gravitational fields, all of this is fascinating. I am looking forward to talking to some of the scientists at CERN about their important research.

CERN was also the birthplace of the World Wide Web through an internal project called ENQUIRE in 1989. Thank you for your fine work Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau.

Now please excuse me if I don’t blink for the next few days. I won’t want to miss a moment of this visit!