If only there were a graphic novel that could guide you around the frontiers of physics! We mused over that possibility on "Virtually Speaking Science" just a couple of nights ago, during a discussion of what lies beyond the Higgs boson — totally unaware that PHD Comics' Jorge Cham had just put out a video graphic novel addressing that very topic.
Cham's latest animation draws upon the expertise of Daniel Whiteson and Jonathan Feng, physicists at the University of California at Irvine, to explain how the discovery of a new "Higgs-like" particle at Europe's Large Hadron Collider is only the first of many blockbuster discoveries expected from the $10 billion facility over the next few decades.
One of the most way-out possibilities is that the LHC could pick up the signs of extra spatial dimensions beyond the three we know and love. Like the Higgs boson, which is thought to play a role in endowing other particles with mass, the existence of extra dimensions is suggested by some of the questions still outstanding in physics — for example, why is gravity so much weaker than the other fundamental forces of nature? But the evidence to back up that suggestion is devilishly difficult to come up with.
Cham literally sketches the outlines of the mystery in his animation, and graphically shows why the LHC is way bigger than the Higgs.
For more about the frontiers that lie beyond the Higgs, check out my Q&A with Caltech physicist Sean Carroll, listen to our hourlong conversation during Wednesday night's installment of "Virtually Speaking Science," and drop into the Second Life virtual world at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT/SLT) Saturday to hear about "The Quest for the Higgs Particle" from Rutgers' Matt Strassler, the physicist behind the widely respected "Of Particular Significance" blog.
More about the Higgs boson:
- Cartoons visualize the Higgs boson
- Higgs explained in (more than) a minute
- The lighter side of the Higgs quest
- The Higgs boson made simple
- How the Higgs gives things mass
- Gallery: Your guide to the particle zoo
- Cosmic Log archive on the Higgs quest
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.