Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Beginning of a New Era or the End of Planet Earth?

I hope to hear what my resident NeoCon commenter, Jason who has a degree in Physics has to say about the Large Hadron Collider for which scientists have been getting death threats about because some folks are afraid it will destroy the planet. A U.S. lawsuit calls it a Doomsday Device.

BBC News - Scientists have hailed a successful switch-on for an enormous experiment which will recreate the conditions a few moments after the Big Bang.

They have now fired two beams of particles called protons around the 27km-long tunnel which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The £5bn machine on the Swiss-French border is designed to smash protons together with cataclysmic force.

Scientists hope it will shed light on fundamental questions in physics.

But there are great concerns about the safety of these experiments. Wikipedia summarizes some of these concerns.

Concerns have been raised in the media, on the Internet and through the law courts about the safety of the particle physics experiments planned to take place at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator to date, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, in Switzerland.[1][2] The claimed dangers of the LHC particle collisions, which are scheduled to begin on 21 October 2008,[3] include doomsday scenarios involving the production of stable micro black holes and the creation of hypothetical particles called strangelets. To address such concerns, CERN mandated a group of independent scientists to review these scenarios. In a report issued in 2003, they concluded that, like current particle experiments such as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), the LHC particle collisions pose no conceivable threat.[5] A second review of the evidence commissioned by CERN was released in 2008. The report, prepared by a group of physicists not involved in the LHC experiments, reaffirmed the safety of the LHC collisions in light of further research conducted since the 2003 assessment.[6][7] It was reviewed and endorsed by a CERN committee of 20 external scientists and by the Executive Committee of the Division of Particles & Fields of the American Physical Society, and was later published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Physics G.[8][9][6] The report concludes that any doomsday scenarios at the LHC are ruled out because the physical conditions and events that will be created in the LHC experiments occur naturally in the universe without hazardous consequences.[6]

Should we be worried?

Addition: I should clarify that I am not afraid and find the whole thing fascinating.


Jason H. Bowden said...

The probability of the LHC causing the end of the world can best be expressed as a magnitude, namely, that represented by the sum of Obama's executive experience.

People always fear what they don't understand -- that was the case during the Y2K scare concerning the nature of computers, and is definitely the case in economic matters. Oh noes! The end is near! Drama!

Stardust said...

Jason, I was getting away from politics on this and was hoping for a bit of scientific explanation and discussion instead and didn't expect it to turn into a political one. I am not afraid of it as some of these fruitballs are, I am just intrigued. I find it absolutely fascinating. I should have expressed that in my post I guess.

Stardust said...

And I did post the explanation that a doomsday scenario has been ruled out. You are right that people are afraid of what they do not understand, then again sometimes we do have good reason to be afraid, don't we?

So, the thing to do is to find out about things and I post about them so people will read and maybe gain and understanding.

Greg said...

(Ignoring the usual Jason repug comment)....

I remember waaay back when I was a youngen in history class when I first heard about the experiments that were done with atomic particles when they were trying to develop the atomic bomb. I had read that there was a small possibility that setting off an atomic reaction could have gotten out of hand and possibly have destroyed the Earth. Even now I remember me being stunned that anyone would really take the chance of that happening. Course, that might be the fault of the Hollywood movies back in the day that I seen where scientists went too far.

Still, I'm satisfied after reading that they had 2 scientific inquiries into this particle physics experiment that they know what they are doing. And if not - well - it will be interesting! lol

Stardust said...

Now I just heard on the news that there was a problem:

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- CERN says its new particle collider has been damaged more than previously thought and that it will be down for at least two months.

Spokesman James Gillies says experts have gone into the Large Hadron Collider to examine the damage that halted operations soon after startup.

Gillies says the sector that was damaged will have to be warmed up well above absolute zero so that repairs can be made.

He said Saturday that CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, will have to shut off the collider for repairs.

Gillies says supercooled helium escaped because of what appears to be a faulty electrical connection between two magnets in the massive machine.

Greg said...

Hmmmmm .... ohhhh you know how much ammo something like this will give to those that are against the idea of playing around with this stuff.

I have to admit its even causing me to wonder if they know what they are doing. After all, the darn thing just started up and now there's a problem!