Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

LHC Warm Up

September 9th, 2008 Posted in Conspiracy Theories, General Science

Tomorrow, Wednesday 10th September 2008, is a momentous day.  At some point, if all goes well, scientists will pass a beam of protons for the first time completely round the brand new LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN, near Geneva. Once this experiment is completed successfully then at some point in the next few months, scientists will start sending them in the opposite direction at the same time, accelerating them to incredibly fast speeds, and smashing them into each other.  Why would they want to do this? Well the answer if simple – they want to discover new secrets of the Universe.

Why is that relevant?

Well, unless you’re a physics nerd then it probably isn’t. After all, it’s not like scientists are going to make a new law of the Universe – they’re hopefully just going to discover one that already exists.  Maybe in the future it will lead to some new science that will profoundly affect your life, but then again maybe it won’t. However, some people certainly do think that the LHC is very important indeed and, unfortunately, not for the right reasons.  A small number of protesters now believe that the LHC will destroy the entire Universe. They have tried a number of legal challenges to try to stop the experiment beginning, and some even go as far as sending death threats to the scientists involved.

Of course, the concerns are retarded because of one very simple fact: collisions of this energy (and much higher) are occurring all the time in the upper atmosphere as cosmic rays strike the Earth. As far as I know, the Earth still exists (though I can’t guarantee that it still will by the time you read this post).

Apart from anything else, scientists have carried out a huge range of safety analyses both theoretical and practical over the last decade or so and they issued a report on the safety of the LHC, stating conclusively that there is no threat posed by this incredible machine.  Anyone wanting to check this report for themselves can read the safety report here or a summary of the findings here.

The bottom line with this story is that it’s another example of people irrationally fearing progress and refusing to trust the findings of science.  The good thing is that, in this case, at least we’ll be able to prove that science was right.  I can’t wait to see what the LHC turns up – it’s got the potential to fill in some seriously huge gaps in our knowledge.

All of this reminds me of the fear-mongers at the time of the first atomic weapon tests who thought that atomic weapons might cause a chain reaction in the atmosphere that would kill every human on Earth.   And when the first trains were invented, people said that it was physically impossible for the human body to cope with such speeds and that anyone travelling at thirty or forty miles an hour would find their necks immediately snapping in half and their heads being torn clean off their bodies.

Guess what – people are crap at predicting the future and they are especially so when they ignore what scientists are telling them.  There’s a moral in there somewhere.

Edit: Just in case you want to check the current progress of armageddon, you can check this site.

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