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The discovery that everything is made from atoms has been referred to as the greatest scientific breakthrough in history. As scientists delved deep into the atom, they unravelled nature’s most shocking secrets and abandoned traditional beliefs, leading to a whole new science which still underpins modern physics, chemistry and biology, and maybe even life itself. Nuclear physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the story of this discovery and the brilliant minds behind the breakthrough. The second part of Professor Jim Al-Khalili’s three-part documentary about the basic building block of our universe, the atom. He shows how, in our quest to understand the tiny atom, we unravelled the mystery of how the universe was created – a story with dramatic twists and turns, taking in world-changing discoveries like radioactivity, the atom bomb and the Big Bang, as the greatest brains of the 20th century competed to answer the biggest questions of all.
Professor Brian Cox visits Geneva to take a look around Cern’s Large Hadron Collider before this vast, 27km long machine is sealed off and a simulation experiment begins to try and create the conditions that existed just a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. Cox joins the scientists who hope that the LHC will change our understanding of the early universe and solve some of its mysteries. News: Not to be thwarted by a few annoying speed bumps on the road to discovery, CERN scientists have successfully slammed accelerated protons together inside the giant Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in order to re-create conditions within the universe just moments after the Big Bang.
Everything you’re about to read here seems impossible and insane, beyond science fiction. Yet it’s all true. Scientists now believe there may really be a parallel universe – in fact, there may be an infinite number of parallel universes, and we just happen to live in one of them. These other universes contain space, time and strange forms of exotic matter.
Simply put, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to know both the exact position and the exact velocity of an object at the same time. However, the effect is tiny and so is only noticeable on a subatomic scale. Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) was a German physicist who helped to formulate quantum mechanics at the beginning of the 20th century. He first presented the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in February 1927 in a letter to Wolfgang Pauli, then published it later that year.
Since the ancient Greeks first speculated that everything they observed in reality was the result of the interaction of tiny particles they called atoms, great thinkers have tried to find a single mathematical formula that governs and explains the workings of the entire universe. So far, though, even minds as brilliant as physicists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking have been unable to come up with that single grand equation of everything, also known as the theory of everything, or the final theory. Nevertheless, they continue to try, because without that final piece of the puzzle that is reality, the sum total of what we know falls a bit short of making sense. Perhaps the most illustrious searcher for the equation of everything was physicist Albert Einstein, who spent the last 35 years of his life trying to uncover such an overarching explanation.