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World Fails to End; Scientists Prepared to Try Again

By Brian | September 10, 2008 | Share on Facebook

Scientists at Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or CERN, tested their Large Hadron Collider yesterday, sending a beam of protons around a 17-mile underground ring in 51 minutes, achieving a blinding speed of 20 miles per hour.

The experiment caused concerns in just about everyone who has no idea what they’re talking about (read: the media, the blogosphere, etc.) that this experiment could generate one or more black holes, which would destroy the earth in an obvious, last-ditch attempt by the Yankees to keep the Red Sox from winning another World Series. Other, more qualified observers, like Britain’s famed Stephen Hawking, called the experiment absolutely safe. James Gillies, chief spokesman for CERN, used a technical term for the concern: “nonsense.”

But the folks at CERN aren’t done. For their next trick, they will attempt to send protons around the ring backwards. Once that’s accomplished, they’ll try it in both directions, but much faster – up to 11,000 revolutions per second (or 673,200,000 miles per hour – roughly the speed of light). Then, in a trick worthy of the best kid’s birthday party magician, they’ll try it in both directions at the same time, forcing the protons to collide at that speed, recreating elements of The Big Bang, generally recognized to be the home run that Aaron Boone hit off of Tim Wakefield to win Game 6 of the 2003 American League Playoffs the event that created the universe.

All of this is expected in the next few months, according to Lyn Evans, the project’s director. So, on the off chance that Hawking and Gillies are wrong and the tabloid press is correct, you might want to consider finishing off that bucket list before New Years.

If all of this sounds a bit like science fiction to you, then you’re not all that off. The following is from a book summary of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (subsequently of The Da Vinci Code fame):

Langdon lands in Geneva with a mild case of altitude sickness, and an even more intense case of confusion. He finds himself located at Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), and receives a personal greeting from the wheelchair-riding director general himself, Maximilian Kohler. [...]

The CERN campus houses more than three thousand physicists of various nationalities and academic backgrounds. Langdon is escorted to “The Penthouse” where Leonardo Vetra, a brilliant scientist, was murdered only hours before, and he discovers the uncomfortable truth that only Kohler, Vetra’s adopted daughter, and himself are aware of the homicide. The discretion is to allow Ms. Vetra time to return from her field work and assess the private nature of the lab she and her father shares before a formal investigation takes place. [...]

The three individuals approach Dr. Vetra’s subterranean lab. Vetra explains that the lab contains the world’s largest particle accelerator (the LHC); over twenty-eight kilometers long and eight kilometers in diameter. [...]

Langdon, Kohler, and Vetra find the subterranean lab deserted. Vetra describes how her father sought to prove that science supported the concept of God, most specifically in describing the moment of singularity, or Genesis, in regards to the Big Bang. Leonardo Vetra had developed a way to create matter out of nothing using the accelerator tube. Not only did he succeed in creating miniature universes, but he also created the dark matter which comes hand in hand with the known matter here on earth. Several specimens of anti-matter are contained in canisters in the lab.

Note that the book was written in 2000. Work on the actual CERN LHC began in 2003, although the project that eventually built it has been in the works since 1984.

So, to sum up: when seeking scientific information, the two best sources of information are Stephen Hawking and Dan Brown.

UPDATE: If you’re still concerned about the LHC, you can visit http://www.hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/ for real-time updates.

(Hat tip: Willow Gross)

Topics: Random Acts of Blogging, The Future is Now | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “World Fails to End; Scientists Prepared to Try Again”

  1. Ilya says at September 10th, 2008 at 10:37 am :
    Funny. I read Angels and Demons several years ago, and my mental image of the LHC is based entirely on Brown’s description of the particle accelerator.

  2. Brian says at September 10th, 2008 at 1:48 pm :
    Me too! And this picture (of the real LHC, not from the book/soon-to-be movie) is exactly how I pictured it!

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