El universo en un grano de arena

Cuando se puso en marcha el gran colisionador de hadrones en Suiza se despertó un frenesí de artículos en la prensa, al igual que cuando tuvo que ser apagado poco después por un problema técnico. La puesta en operación del colisionador era un acontecimiento muy esperado en los círculos científicos, que podría confirmar o refutar una de las teorías más exitosas sobre la estructura del universo. La atención que ha recibido del público es algo raro tratándose de una noticia científica, quizá debido a la preocupación de que algo muy peligroso se pudiera estar llevando a cabo tan cerca.

La cobertura principal estuvo acompañada por una campaña sobre los riesgos potenciales, de forma que cuando las pruebas no salieron como se esperaba, era natural preguntarse si se había dañado el tejido del espacio y el tiempo. Algunos de los rumores iniciales sobre lo que podría pasar fueron exagerados. Uno de ellos especulaba que estas nuevas altas energías, al combinarse con la forma específica en que se partirían las partículas, nos aniquilarían. En otro escenario, el laboratorio podría crear pequeños hoyos negros incontrolables. Otro más afirmaba que la creación de un objeto hipotético llamado “strangelet” desataría niveles nuevos y terribles de energía nuclear.

Cuando se manipula la materia fundamental hay riesgos posibles, pero en este caso la interrupción se debió a una fuga de gas común y corriente. Lo que hace que esta prueba sea interesante para los científicos, no para los periodistas, no ha cambiado y seguirá siendo emocionante cuando el CERN vuelva a poner en marcha el colisionador.

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