May 17, 2007
Brain-Hurt of the Day
From Elizabeth Kolbert’s lovely article about CERN’s giant Hadron Collider:
It is one of the paradoxes of particle physics that fundamental particles, though pointlike and indivisible, are also generally unstable. In fact, the heavier particles are so short-lived that even to speak of their having an existence seems faintly ludicrous; a top quark, for example, is estimated to last no more than 1 × 10¯²⁴ seconds. (For comparison’s sake, 1 × 10¯²⁴ centuries comes to three millionths of a billionth of a second.)Och, there goes my head, hurting again.