Monday, June 30, 2008

The Infernal Machine

Our second quantum-related post of the day (after the new Bond trailer). The Large Hadron Collider will go online in August with physicists and nerds eagerly awaiting some insight into the mysteries of the universe.

Of course, what's the fun in playing God with diabolical machines without fears and criticism? Will we create a black hole that swallows Earth? Will we, as the CNN puts it, be subject to particles that turn our planet into a hot dead clump?

"Ridiculous, say scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials CERN -- some of whom have been working for a generation on the $5.8 billion collider, or LHC."
Juvenile! Absurd!
"Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans.

David Francis, a physicist on the collider's huge ATLAS particle detector, smiled when asked whether he worried about black holes and hypothetical killer particles known as strangelets.

"If I thought that this was going to happen, I would be well away from here," he said.

But where would you go, David? You think your PhD will save you now?? I'm sure some smart-ass dinosaur turned to his friend and said, "There's no way that asteroid hits Earth. If I thought that was going to happen, I would be well away from here."

Seriously, no worries though. Stephen Hawking says any black holes produced in this atom-smashing fest will evaporate quickly. Vegas odds of catastrophic global apocalypse: 1/50,000,000. I don't know how you would collect that winning payout though.

I'm secretly, and now openly, hoping for a 2001: A Space Odyssey journey into the ultimate transcendent nature of humanity when they hit the switch.