The Big and the Small of It

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Several readers have asked for comment on Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) -- the atom smasher located near Geneva at CERN (the European Centre for Nuclear Research).  The new facility, which started operations earlier this month (although some recent electrical problems could lead to a two-month delay), represents a huge advance in particle acceleration.

Some scientists hope that the LHC will lead to the discovery of the so-called Higgs particle, which some refer to as the "God particle" because it may provide the answers to so many sub-atomic mysteries.  Others hope that the the collider will be able to recreate conditions during the first millionths of a second after creation.

There is every reason to expect that the LHC will lead to new scientific discoveries.  What interests me is that to this point we have been unable to isolate the smallest particle in the universe (or, at the other end of the spectrum, reach the boundaries of the physical universe).  No matter how small we go -- and we are already at the point of almost unbelievably infinitesimal discovery -- there is still something smaller to discover. 

Contrast this with the platform for an electronic game or other computer simulation.  No matter how sophisticated the graphics, eventually you bump up against the limits of the program.  Even simulations that seem to have depth and complexity turn out to have their boundaries.  They end up feeling shallow in certain respects. 

But the world that God has made constantly opens out into new discoveries, both in the far reaches of space and in the inner sanctum of the atom.  Whether we go big or small, the universe that God has made continues to defy our full comprehension or scrutiny -- a testimony to the infinitely perfect mind of our maker. 

Posted September 29, 2008 @ 8:36 AM by Phil Ryken
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