Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Line of Beauty

There is a line of beauty which connects us in the world. That is what the photographer says. The man with the faraway eyes who always looks closely beyond. Beyond the walls of Avignon, beyond where he was as a fashion photographer caught in the lure of gold and glamour, beyond where he always is...the woods, the trees, the town, the streets. He sees the invisible. It is a thread he passes on to me....

Trust that invisible line, and you find yourself in the places where you should be. It is inevitable. A synchroncity with intent. A determination with chance. A predestination with no destination. It is just the way it is. Here. Right now. In this place. In no time at all. In all time. Even. More or Less.

So the line of beauty leads me to the home of the Beauty Quark, one of the world's greatest adventures. They think the impossible here and make it possible. That's the ultimate beauty of CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and one of the world's greatest examples of global collaboration. 20 countries are signed up yet 31 others join in the quest to discover the origins of the universe. Diversity yet unity of intent, the possible making the impossible real, it is an extraordinary spirit of place and purpose and something I have always believed could exist. Here at the foothills of the Jura mountains it does. With engineering feats so incredible that your eyes blink, machines as high as cathedrals built beneath the earth. The beauty of ALICE all primary colours of green and red, a great octagonal mouth of awaiting discovery, this particular detector is the one which will detect the particles after the Big Bang, the moment a few millionths of a second, when matter won over anti-matter to be the prime constituent of our universe.

Go to LHCb, and this is where the Beauty Quark will be detected. If the Beauty Quark is found here, then Quantum Physics as it stands makes sense and the Higgs Boson will have been discovered. The theory will stack up and it will be confirmed that we live in a quantum world of asymmetry. After all the theory goes, everything in our universe has its asymmetrical twin. For matter, there is anti-matter, quarks, anti-quarks, electrons, anti-electrons. We exist in this world because of asymmetry and it makes us individiually me. Think on it. Somewhere in the world for each of us walks our assymetrical twin. A me who is anti-me. There will be a kink which makes them different. Just a kink. Think on it again. This minute difference created everything around us, when matter won over anti-matter in that moment when the world exploded into being, because for every one billion anti-particles, there were one billion and one particles. A minute difference makes us whole.

And so to the Beauty Quark. Beauty quarks did not survive this epic battle of creation and do not exist in the Universe today. But right after the Big Bang they existed in great numbers, and so perhaps, they hold the key as to why and how matter won out. And the collisions at the Large Hadron Collider will bring them back to life, for the first time in 13.7 million years, producing millions of them under our feet at CERN.

So...the line of beauty. It is a trace of time, an invisible signature as it is called here, to be made visible this November. What would my photographer say, when the protons collide underground across borders of knowledge, time and space, geographical,cultural and intellectual boundaries? Just one proton colliding with another in the 27 km Large Hadron Collider circular tunnel which runs beneath the French and Swiss border, with the four giant detectors, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb and ALICE standing guard to trace the miracle moments before and after the creation of the universe. A crossing. A circuit. A line. A collision. An interaction. So do you think you can ask me why I am here...? The answer is here.