Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On the eve of ultimate destruction, I have a slight cold

Beware of anything that comes with an acronym: ECT, EBL, ASAP, AVO, ALP, LNP, KGB, ATM, ASBOS. There's a reason why James Bond was mortal enemies with SMERSH.

And now we've got another acronym to worry about: LHC. That's short for Large Hadron Collider, which is long for... I don't know what.

There's something thrillingly cryptic about the name 'Large Hadron Collider'. Wherein does the largeness consist? Is the LHC a large thing that simply collides hadrons? Or is it a little thing that collides large hadrons? What are hadrons anyway? Do hadrons come in large and small and in-between sizes? Why would you want to collide them, and what do you collide them with? Is this how boffins get their boffinly thrills, by crazily smashing a bunch of random hadrons into one another as if they were involved in a game of quantum conkers? Or do they collide the hadrons with something else (an old race guide, perhaps, or a puppy), throwing them about the LHC any old how and just hoping for them to end up any old where? Apparently, they want to find the Higgs-Boson, which is a bizarre theoretical something postulated in order to explain the existence of another bizarre theoretical something.

It's all charmingly naive, this idea of throwing hadrons around a large collider, or throwing large hadrons around a small collider, or whatever: it sounds like the ultimate of eccentric hobbies. But there's a sinister side to it, too: a few theories suggest that just by scattering a couple of hadrons about the place to see what they smunch into, physicists might - just might - create the conditions for the annihilation of the earth, the moon, the sun, and the solar system. That is, if everything these physicists say turns out to be right. Or wrong. Depending on your point of view.

So, to sum up: an ambiguous thing that performs strange functions to vague sub-molecular objects in order to find a hypothetical entity may, or may not, cause Armageddon. That's reassuring, isn't it?

I'm sure there's a very good answer for all of this. I have absolutely no idea what it might be.


Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

As a public service I would like show you this invaluable link:

TimT said...

An excellent and most helpful link, MCB Esq., but I have to question the validity of their research. Good God, man - what if they're wrong?

Maybe we should conclude, like some of the members of those apocalyptic sects who set precise dates for the end of the world, that the world has already ended while we were looking the other way.

Steve said...

Of course, Tim, I am offended that you did not link to me, since for nearly two years now I have been posting about the question of whether the safety review for the LHC had really been done properly or not. Instead, you link to Johnny (Jenny?)- come-lately Caz's post about the LHC and the end of the world. I get no respect!

Oh well, 'cos I posted about it so long ago, I got about 1,000 hits this week via Google searches about the LHC. Yeah, I know, most bloggers just have to fart and they get more hits, but for me it was impressive.

Anyway, as you know, there is one more German astrophysicist who is not quite a nutter who thinks he has found a way micro black holes could be dangerous. But, he seems to have made a mistake, and has gone away to re-consider.

Can I saw, without sounding a jerk, that I am pretty impressed with myself for thinking to actually email him to get a response. I would be deeply impressed with my blog, even if I didn't write it.

Maybe it's time for me to lie down now...

Email: timhtrain - at -

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