Camera Bombs vs. Big Bang Cameras

While last week we asked "is it a bomb, or a camera?" (which is to say nothing about photobombs) this week we'll look at how a camera was built (inside a bomb?) to observe the biggest ever man-made bang at CERN.

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[Photo by Simon Norfolk via Benrubi Gallery]

Listening to an interview with UK scientist and media personality Brian Cox on my way to work, I heard him discuss his project at the Large Hadron Collider.

"50 years later (after Higgs' prediction) you build the biggest machine ever built, 60 miles in circumference, most of it's in France, a bit of it's in Switzerland (10,000 scientists & 150 countries) - this huge thing -- you accelerate protons, the nuclei of hydrogen around this thing at 99.9999 percent the speed of light, they go around the 60 miles 11,000 times a second, we can collide 600 million of them together every second to recreate the conditions that were present less than a billionth of a second after the universe began.

(We) photograph it in with the biggest digital cameras ever built. The one I work on called Atlas is 40m in diameter. A vast, vast thing! 7000 tons of digital camera in a cavern the size of St. Paul's Cathedral underneath the ground in Switzerland. And you find this thing that this guy, Peter Higgs predicted to exist 50 years ago because he did some sums."
That's one huge camera, and I'm no physicist, but it may not be a camera in the traditional sense.

Last month's news was that a proposed telescope in Chile would have a 32 gigapixel sensor (while other news stories say 3.2). Either way, it isn't something you'd want swinging around your neck.

For comparison, the famous gigapan photograph of the 2009 Presidential Inauguration was a mere 1.6 gigapixels, and you still can't find your face in that sea of people!

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And if you spend enough time looking-up "what's the largest digital camera?" while learning about a long tunnel underneath France, you might come across this: an eery diptych of the CERN collider contrasted with the Mayan calendar.

Ok, then!

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- MDM

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