The black hole hunter

 作者:赖嘴     |      日期:2019-03-03 06:10:02
By Valerie Jamieson EMOTIONS are running high. Even though we are wearing hairnets, face masks and overalls to protect the delicate silicon surfaces from dust and moisture, I’m pretty sure I can see Tony Weidberg welling up. “There were times when I thought we’d never get this far,” he says. “After all these years, it is amazing to see it in the flesh.” It’s not exactly flesh that we are looking at, but it is Weidberg’s baby. Suspended from a frame in the middle of his laboratory at the University of Oxford is a monster cylinder, 1.5 metres long and covered in shiny scales made of silicon. Cables spew from both its ends, while a robot arm sits poised in front of it. To Weidberg, this is more than just another piece of equipment. For the past 12 years this has been his life. Even now, the device is not quite ready to be packed up and shipped off to its final resting place at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva. But when Weidberg tells me about the seemingly ridiculous design specifications he and his colleagues have been working to, I begin to appreciate why just standing in front of it gets him a little emotional. There have been meetings, for instance, about the properties of the nuclei inside the atoms in the nuts and bolts that hold this device together. Include the wrong nuclei, and you could ruin the experiment. Everything in the device, even down to the glue, also has to withstand extraordinarily intense heat and radiation. It has to be light, strong and rigid: