Update: September 22, 2008
Setback due to a faulty electrical connection between two of the superconducting magnets in one section of the tunnel which has led to a major leak of helium, the LHC’s main coolant. So far I would say that the scientists who had the decency to blow the whistle were right.
Update: September 11, 2008
Yesterday some people were happy: LHC has been switched on and we are still alive.
To all of these people I have just a few words: one beam only!!!!
We have to wait a few weeks until the second one will be ready to collide with the first beam. Who is the idiot now?
Happy reading the original message.
I wonder if September 10, 2008 is going to mark the beginning of the end of our existence. This is the date when CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research will try to duplicate conditions that existed one-billionth of a second after the Big Bang that scientists believe, created the universe.
After 20 years of preparation, 10 billion dollars spent and more than 10,000 scientists from 70 countries involved, scientists will switch on something they call the Large Hadron Collider. The big kahuna has the size of a 30 story building and has been build underground, 100 meters below the Swiss/French countryside. (for once I am happy for not living in Europe).
When the Large Hadron Collider is switched on, two hadrons– beams of sub-atomic particles made up of either protons or lead ions – start to whiz around in opposite directions inside a giant ring-shaped tunnel 27 kilometers in circumference. The particles will be smashed together 600 million times per second (speed 99.99% of the speed of light), and the results recorded and observed by four huge detectors placed in chambers the size of cathedrals deep underground.
The experiment will generate 40,000 gigabytes of data each day, which will be analyzed by a virtual supercomputer made up of 100,000 processors around the world linked by the internet.
Apparently not everything is nice and dandy and some scientists fear that the massive machine will destroy our planet. Faced with this prospect some people started making their own ‘bucket lists’ (as in things to do before we die). Others took a different route: trying to stop the experiment.
Professor Otto Rossler, from the Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen in Germany, is one of the scientists mounting the legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, against 20 countries that are funding the project. The group includes Swiss, German and Austrian professors, theorists and biochemists, who say the risks of firing up the Large Hadron Collider haven’t been considered properly. They say checks should be as stringent as they are for nuclear power stations and they agree with a lawsuit that was filed in Hawaii, which claims the experiment could create black holes which might swallow up the Earth.
And that would happen within four years. Doing a simple math, this will take us to the dreadful 2012 and Mayan calendar that marked it as the end of …. Fill in the blanks. The end of civilization as we know it, the end of Earth, it can be anything.
Scientists hope the experiment will help explain fundamental questions such as how particles acquire mass. They will also probe the mysterious dark matter of the universe and investigate why there is more matter than antimatter. Or so they say.
To me, this experiment is like a pissing contest between science and religion. The reason I am not comfortable with this particular experiment is that scientists have been proved wrong so many times. Look at the drugs signed off by companies as safe, only to be proved to have devastating effects on long term health or on newborns. Take thalidomide if nothing else. The sleeping aid for pregnant women considered safe. Only after its effects were so catastrophic did the manufacturer admit they did not test adequately. So we are not capable of understanding exactly how our brain or aspirin work but we are so vain to play with egos while trying to prove that God is a myth? Now more than ever we should take this type of experiments with a very healthy dose of skepticism.
While CERN is getting ready for this exercise, astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope managed to capture images of a powerful collision of galaxy clusters showing a clear separation between dark and ordinary matter. That pretty much answered a crucial question about whether dark matter interacts with itself other than via gravitational forces.
Some people call the skeptics ignorants. It may be so. Then I wonder why CERN had not developed some comprehensive explanations with regards to this experiment, in such a manner to make the tax payers (yeah, the ignorants paying for this fancy big bang experiment) understand what is going on. True, right now we don’t understand how a quantum black hole is different than a solar black hole, but hey, educate us!!!!
In conclusion, we have screwed up the planet anyway so we might as well go ahead and create a black hole to finish off the job quickly.
And some ammunition for the opposite site (religion): CERN has an interesting logo. Take a look and tell me if you see 666 or not?