OPINION: The Large Hadron Collider goes live tomorrow – fingers crossed
The end of the world is nigh! Tomorrow morning, before many of us will have had our first cups of tea, the Large Hadron Collider will be switched on at CERN. By the time we reach for the sugar, we may no longer exist; nor the sugar, nor any record of sugar ever having existed, nor records. Of course, that’s extremely unlikely.
If you’re not up to speed on this whole story, then I should probably explain that CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, based on the border of France and Switzerland, where they’ve dug a 78km-long tunnel in a large ring and created the world’s largest particle accelerator, but you know this, right?
The idea is to hurtle protons and neutrons around the ring in tiny particle beams, guided around by magnets at speeds of around 11,000 28km revolutions every second. That’s, um, that’s pretty quick.
When the beams are lined up, the particles will collide and split open, fingers crossed, revealing all sorts of smaller sub-atomic particles including one or two which have only been theorised before such as the Higgs Boson – a particle responsible for allowing the concept of mass; rather important.
The conditions that they’re trying to create over at CERN is essentially what was about immediately after the Big Bang and, of course, one of the concerns about having a re-run of the Big Bang is that it could end everything as we know it, which might be a problem.
Most of the anti-LHC lobby seems to be focusing on the idea that it could create microscopic black holes which could suck all matter into them but many, including the Hawkins, have rubbished that one by saying that these anomalies would just evaporate away again.
Personally, I’m not worried about black holes. I’m not worried about any of it but what I would be concerned about if I were a worrier is that this controlled Big Bang may not be as controlled as anticipated.
The name of the process is rather anarchic. A big bang doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’d have much of a say in once it started and if it decided to reboot the Universe, then that’s exactly what it would do. But don’t worry, they’ve got some magnets to stop it.
Of course, this could be exactly how the Universe began in the first place. Some species or other got all advanced and too big for its boots, wanted to know how it all works and ending up breaking it in the process. Rather like the last time I tried to fix my PC.
But, if that’s the way it’s going to go down, then I think it’s as good a way as any. Better we all die at the same time in pursuit of something noble than all alone in some terrible post-nuclear apocalypse after trying to destroy each in quest to own all the Earth’s oil, water, air or last remaining scraps of pornography.
As it goes, the results of the LHC will probably be largely mundane to those not in the know and only eye-brow flexing for those with multiple physics degrees. I’m being pessimistic here because I’m hoping for something mind-blowing (notice I didn’t say ‘earth-shattering’). The tough part is that we probably won’t be any the wiser tomorrow. All they’re going to do is switch it on. The first high energy collisions won’t be happening until 21st October.
But until then, spare a thought for the Universe and realise that, even if you’re of the nervous persuasion, what’s happening in the next month is one of the most noble and exciting projects that (wo)mankind has ever embarked upon and if that cup of tea really is your last, then I promise I’ll say hello on the other side. I’ll be standing next to that large group of men in white coats looking rather sheepish.
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Uh, JTankers, it is all Theories.
Hawkins has a Theory that is widely accepted and these other people have a Theory.
Just because they counter each other means nothing.
Take for example, Evolution. Widely accepted as true. But it still is a Theory. Theories can never be proven true, only false.
MJ, first of all I doubt you have a Degree in this. As if you did you would understand the probability is very low. Also that Standing Theories say this can not happen. In fact Black Holes still barely are Accepted. Black Holes used to be nothing but a Theory that anyone who believed was said to be crazy. But now Black Holes are accepted as real. How they work is unknown.
If these “few white coats with IQ’s barely any higher than my own” thought that there was a realistic possibility that this would happen, they would not do it. And machines like this exist, on a smaller scale, and have been run. Anything that is going to happen will not happen. Not for another month or two.
Yeyyyyy where not dead !!!!!!!!!! it is now 4:01 and we are still alive 🙂 i think we should partyyyy woooooop !
To be honest I believe this is all rather ridiculous, if there are indeed such risks to this Hadron Collider then we shouldn’t attempt it in the first place should we? Trying to recreate the same conditions of the big bang and the possibilities of micro black holes seems overly risky, simply for the gratification of a few white coats with IQ’s barely any higher than my own. If this blows up in our faces and by some chance you make it into heaven be sure to look very sheepish and apologetic when I get up there…Human curiousity what a idiotic and dangerous thing, I’m sure that in situations like these everyone reading these must agree.
Dr. Hawking is a well respected thinker, but that does not mean he is correct.
Some physicists who re-examined Hawking Radiation have determined that micro black holes might not evaporate. Their papers conclude:
“black holes do not radiate”
“the effect [Hawking Radiation] does not exist.”
“infinitely delayed Hawking radiation” 
If recent papers are correct, and the Large Hadron Collider creates slow moving micro black holes, then Earth’s lifespan might be greatly reduced.
 xxx.lanl.gov/abs/gr-qc/0304042 Do black holes radiate?. Prof. Dr. Adam Helfer (2003)
 arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0607137, On the existence of black hole evaporationyet again, Prof. VA Belinski (2006)
 http://www.wissensnavigator.com/documents/OTTOROESSLERMINIBLACKHOLE.pdf Abraham-Solution to Schwarzschild Metric Implies That CERN Miniblack Holes Pose a Planetary Risk, Prof. Dr. Otto Rossler (2008)
Well, at least the post apocalyptic t-shirts are here:
Higgs Boswan? Really?
What so your saying I could or could not exist tomorrow.. oh well at least your all coming with me.. MWAH MWAH MWAH !
11,000 times around a 78km ring a second is faster than the speed of light. Its actually 28km.
So, it is. Apologies, duly noted and amended. Cheers Matt.