I’ve decided to introduce a new segment to an already crowded blog: the strangelet. Strangelets are like Nerdlets, but weird, wild, and, well, strange. The term “strangelet” derives from the controversy surrounding the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which powered up today after a long and convoluted history (remember the Super Conductor Super Collider?)
In other words, it is appropriate that our first strangelet be about, well, the strangelet. Here is the definition from wikipedia:
A strangelet is a hypothetical object consisting of a bound state of roughly equal numbers of up, down, and strange quarks. The size would be a minimum of a few femtometers across (with the mass of a light nucleus). Once the size becomes macroscopic (on the order of meters across), such an object is usually called a quark star or “strange star” rather than a strangelet. An equivalent description is that a strangelet is a small fragment of strange matter. The term “strangelet” originates with E. Farhi and R. Jaffe. Strangelets have been suggested as a dark matter candidate.
So what’s the big deal? Well some believe that the strangelet, if it exists, could destroy the world. Don’t believe me? Well the BBC documentary End Day lists this as one of six possible doomsday scenarios.
For a more balanced perspective, and a history of the controversy, be sure to check out this story on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. And here is today’s news on the subject.
Assuming we are all still here tomorrow, I hope to have another wild and wacky post from the world of strange news. And, as luck would have it, it also deals with the end of the world…
Update: See the story by Ars Technica here.