Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Incidentally, We're Alive

The Large Hadron Collider was turned on today, and despite the concerns of some "skeptics", the world did not end. Which I'm pleased to hear, obviously. I don't have enough scientific expertise (which is to say, I have none at all) to doubt the assurances of all the scientists who assured us the experiment was perfectly safe. I did, however, observe that the manner in which the scientists responded to these concerns reminded me of every sci-fi plotline in which scientific hubris/overreach causes the downfall of human civilization.

Thankfully, the universe is neither ironic nor interested in literary cliches, so we're good. For now.


esquiver said...

I hate to break it to you, but all they did today was turn it on, fire it up, and run a couple of test beams around the circuit at 99.99998 percent the speed of light. The particle collisions -- those potentially black-hole-creating particle collisions -- won't actually happen for a few days or weeks; I don't think they've actually said exactly when. Terrifyingly, today's test reportedly went "as smooth as silk."

NB: the universe is totally ironic.

Julia said...

It's true, no collisions yet.

Micro black holes disappear instantaneously, btw. If you want to feel smart, just tell people the LHC isn't doing anything that cosmic rays don't do all the time in our upper atmosphere.

David Schraub said...

You know, I read that Julia, but the trick about being ignorant is that there are always more questions. Like, if this collider is supposed to recreate the conditions at the start of the universe, and presumably those rays hitting our atmosphere are not recreating the birth of the universe, the presumably the collider is doing something unique, no? And if it's unique, then why isn't what makes it unique also uniquely capable of enacting our demise?