There is a Black Hole in Newcastle which swallows Government money, there is another on the Swiss/ French border. With luck and near zero temperatures the latter might produce a result tomorrow.
There is a theoretical framework of matter which we now call the Standard Model (regardless that it fails to explain the effects of gravity) - it's origins lie in the work of Rutherford when he "split" the atom in Manchester (and we now discover left irradiated laboratories which may have helped kill subsequent academic staff who used the rooms) and he described a heavy nucleus or core surrounded by a cloud of much lighter
H J G Mosley at about the same time determined that the number of protons in the nucleus was the atomic number. The more protons, the denser and heavier the atom.
By examining emitted light when a gas is excited by an electric discharge (as in say a neon light tube) Niels Bohr was able to determine energy levels emitted . He sketched out what we now now see is a primitive atomic model. Not based on direct observation but derived from measuring electromagnetic radiation - a model, expressed for the first time as a mathematcal formula which proved to be useful (and accurate in many cases) in predicting how atoms would behave.
Bohr decided that
1) Atoms have well-defined electron orbits.
2) Atoms do not radiate energy
3) Electrons travel in circular orbits with specific angular momenta, and only certain values are possible (angular momentum is quantized).
4) As electrons travel (or transit) fom one orbit to the next, energy is either absorbed or released by the atom.
This explanation provided an understanding of the periodicity of the table of elements.
In 1930 1930 Schrodinger concluded that electrons operated as continuous clouds , not discrete particles and developed wave mechanics to develop a mathematical model of the atom. At the same time Paul Dirac proposed anti-particles to explain some of the observed activities of atoms and Anderson discovered the anti-electron (positron) in 1932 - it took another 30 odd years before another anti particle the anti-proton was detected by Segre and Chamberlain.
Paul Dirac shared the Nobel Prize in physics for 1933 with Erwin Schrödinger, "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory." Dirac was also an alumnus of Coatham Grammar School in Bath where a bright schoolboy called Peter Higgs was a student.
In 1930 Dirac's published "Principles of Quantum Mechanics", which is a landmark volume in the history of science and was/is a standard text still used today by bright students. Dirac incorporated the previous work of Werner Heisenberg on matrix mechanics and of Erwin Schrödinger on wave mechanics into a single mathematical formalism that could explain the (then )known properties of atoms.
Jumping forward Peter Higgs who had been attempting to unravel the events of the supposed primal "Big Bang" (along with others unknown but on the same mental tram lines) proposed what has become to be known as the Higgs mechanism which predicted massless particles.
Popularly known as "Gods particle" ( an apparent bowdlerisation of a journal editor when someone called it that Goddamed particle because no one could find it) or the Higgs boson. 40 odd years and billions have been spent looking for the goddam thing.
There have been many false dawns in the search for this eleusive beats, not the least when the respected New Scientist produced a news story on 2nd March last year (2007) "Higgs boson : Glimpses of the God particle" . Scientists working on the 6.3 Km long Tevatron accelerator at Fermilab , at Batavia near Chicago, had been colliding protons and antiprotons and looking for the tell tale signs of the decay of one of five "supersymmetric" Higgs bosons into two tau leptons, which are very heavy cousins of the electron.
These are found by looking at "bumps" in data .. they found bumps, but New Scientist had been fed a bum steer because Z bosons , discovered at CERN in the 1980's also produced 2 Tau leptons ...
Anyway tomorrow they switch on the CERN hadron collider which will smash neutrons at speeds and desnities never previously acheived and detect the elctromagnetic consequences with detectors of remarkable sensitivity.
If they are lucky and they do, they say Peter Higgs will receive Nobel prize.
What is certain that they will want even more money for even more powerful, more sensitive, larger, faster, deeper, wider, higher, colder smashing machines, computers , scintillators ......
..and perhaps a very, very, few people will really, really understand what happened in that billionth of a second at the birth of the universe.
We really, really ought to try and understand what these guys do, the last time they were left to find a use for all this stuff they invented the atom bomb.
Shouldn't miss BBC 4 have a Big Bang day all day with (so far) excellent programmes. Adam Hart-Davis on Engineering Solutions was full of breathy excitement but effectively translated the scale of engineering achievement at getting the thing built.