Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The LHC is Born!

This morning, the Large Hadron Collider passed one of the last major tests before the system is turned over to collision-based research, as scientists sent a stream of protons, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise, around the 17-mile underground ring.

Aside from the rather large tracts of physics that the machine may confirm or disconfirm in upcoming years, this is exciting because of the not-quite-insignificant chance that it will end life as we know it. If ever there was a chance that we'd destroy the universe with some careless overpowered experiment, this is it! In fact, if we believe the Hawaiian botanist who for some reason sued the U.S. government in March to stop the nearly completed construction of the Switzerland-based LHC, "there is a real possibility of creating destructive theoretical anomalies such as miniature black holes, strangelets and deSitter space transitions. These events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and destroy our planet." Mmmmm.

If this prospect worries you, then I suggest you closely monitor, which promises to deliver up-to-the-minute coverage of the situation (and was probably brought to us by the same people who work tirelessly to give us


  1. it may be the most expensive physics experiment ever made but it is not going to kill us. cosmic rays do this kind of stuff all the time and the universe seems fine. cnn is just hyping it up because otherwise almost no one in the mainstream would care about the world's largest super collider. sure there is a chance that it will form a microscopic blackhole or allow a strangelet to be created destroying the earth in the process. but the blackhole will probably evaporate quickly if it is even possible and prayer is always good to fight against stranglet formation. besides where's science without the risk to all of mankind. that aside, Higgs bosons. gonna be so sweet.


    useful trivia and info about the LHC.

    I do like that we, as a species, are perfectly fine with the admittedly small chance of completely destroying ourselves in return for physics stuff. i think we've made it, after all.

  3. Higgs boson indeed! As much as I sorta buy the arguments that the motivation for really expensive really high energy research into the fundamental makeup of matter has as much to do with theology as it does with, you know, real physics... it's so fucking awesome.

    And, yeah, the danger is all publicity. Strangelets are awesomely worrysome, but the black hole fear doesn't even make sense. So, there's a possibility that we'll create a black hole with the gravitational attraction of a small molocule? Yeah, that'll be Really Dangerous. On the off-chance that it even happens.

    Really, if we do end up destroying ourselves with science, my bet is on the whole nuclear weapons thing.

  4. This is all reminding me of a History Channel thing I watched about the Bermuda Triangle once. The argument – I shit you not – broke down like this:

    Premise 1: Black holes are not easily detectable.
    Premise 2: Some physicists believe that black holes wander through the universe.
    Hidden Premise 1: Black holes are alive and conscious.
    Hidden Premise 2: Black holes are malicious.
    Hidden Premise 3: Black holes need to eat.
    Premise 3: Many ships disappear each year in the Bermuda Triangle, and we don't know why.
    Conclusion: There is a black hole wandering around the Bermuda Triangle, and when it gets hungry it eats ships.