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Kurtz
Saturday, October 20th, 2007, 11:08 PM
As the Cernier company prepares to test the world’s largest supercollider physicists express concern that too much is being left to chance.

The Cernier Company or CERN, the world’s largest physics research firm, is currently in the process of building what would be the world’s largest working supercollider. Known as “Large Hadron Collider,” or LHC, the device is 27 kilometers (16.7 miles) long and resides in a tunnel approximately 100 meters beneath the Franco-Swiss border, just outside of Geneva.

http://techfreep.com/images/lhc

By accelerating protons toward each other at 99.999999% the speed of light the LHC can recreate conditions similar to those that resulted from the Big Bang, ultimately alighting a great deal about the particles and forces that comprise our Universe. A press release from CERN better illuminates their intent for the project:

"…Our current understanding of the Universe is incomplete. We have seen that the theory we use, the Standard Model, leaves many unsolved questions. Among them, the reason why elementary particles have mass, and why are their masses different is the most perplexing one. It is remarkable that such a familiar concept is so poorly understood."

LHC functions by accelerating two counter-rotating beams of protons toward each other at high speeds. By cooling magnets to near absolute zero (-273 degrees celcius) with an enormous cryogenics system, the LHC can move particles toward each other at speeds only one millionth of a percent away from the speed of light.

And while Physicists have the logistics of the LHC well in hand ideas about its outcome are strictly theoretical. According to one scenario tiny black holes could be produced which hopefully would decay into what is known as Hawking radiation (the tinier the black hole, the faster it evaporates). If these black holes fail to decay, however, the consequences could be disasterous. CERN software developer Ran Livneh has expressed some concerns about the project:

"This physical realm is unknown, and dangerous phenomena might arise…Any physicist will tell you that there is no way to prove that generated black holes will decay. The consequences of being mistaken are unfathomable. This subject deserves serious unbiased discussion."

Despite these theoretical discrepencies the LHC project will continue as scheduled toward its launch in 2007. Mankind has never progressed itself due to fear of the unknown. Although the results of the Large Hadron Collider could potentially be disasterous, the intellectual consequences of not conducting the experiment could be equally so.

Link (http://techfreep.com/worlds-largest-supercollider-could-destroy-the-universe.htm)

More information on this: wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider)

Safety concerns:

As with previous particle accelerators, people both inside and outside the physics community have voiced concern that the LHC might trigger one of several theoretical disasters capable of destroying the Earth or even the entire Universe. This has raised controversy as to whether any such risks outweigh the potential benefits of constructing and operating the LHC.

Though the standard model predicts that LHC energies are far too low to create black holes, some nonstandard theories lower the requirements, and predict that the LHC will create tiny black holes[8][9], with potentially devastating consequences. The primary cause for concern is that Hawking Radiation - a postulated means by which any such black holes would dissipate before becoming dangerous, remains entirely theoretical. In academia, the theory of Hawking Radiation is considered plausible, but there remains considerable question of whether it is correct.[10]

Other disaster scenarios typically involve the following theoretical events:

* Creation of strange matter that is more stable than ordinary matter
* Creation of magnetic monopoles that could catalyze proton decay
* Creation of a strangelet

CERN has pointed out that the probability of such events is extremely small. One argument for the safety of colliders such as the LHC states that if the Earth were in danger of any such fate, the Earth and Moon would have met that fate billions of years ago due to their constant bombardment from space by protons, other particles, and cosmic rays, which are millions of times more energetic than anything that could be produced by the LHC.[11]

Quantum calculations presented in the CERN report predict that:

* Any black holes created by the LHC are not expected to be stable and will not accrete matter.
* Any monopoles that could catalyse the decay of matter will quickly exit the Earth.[12]

Dr. Solar Wolff
Sunday, October 21st, 2007, 09:38 AM
Someone explain this to me. We are told that most Europeans think of global warming as the most threatening problem to face humanity. Global warming is a result of the human quest for more energy. So why is/has Physics spent so many billions and continues to spend so many billions on a problem which is at worst only in the minds of physicists and at best can wait until more pressing matters are treated? Besides the money involved, there is the the number of physicists involved with this and similar quests and the seemingly irrational fixation Physics has with "proving Einstein right". Couldn't physicists, time and money be spent more profitably, especially in light of our current needs? Finding ever smaller sub-atomic particles just like theories on the Big Bang are not high on the priorities of most people.

The Horned God
Sunday, October 21st, 2007, 10:35 AM
Although the results of the Large Hadron Collider could potentially be disastrous, the intellectual consequences of not conducting the experiment could be equally so.


"Equally so?" Let me get this straight; The potential negative consequences of proceeding with these experiments are said to be the destruction of the earth, the solar system and even the entire universe.While the consequences of halting the experiments are that a generation of particle physicists will die wondering whether "The Higgs Boson" exists or not?

They don't seem like equality bad consequences to me!

And if they find whatever their looking for what then? Are they just (as I suspect) going to look for funding to build and even more powerful collider and then an even more powerful one again?

All this reminds me of the teenager who landed in hospital with sever head injuries after being hit buy a train, when asked what he was doing he said he was trying to see how close he could hold is head to a passing train before getting hit...

stormlord
Sunday, October 21st, 2007, 11:03 AM
There really is no point worrying about stuff like this; there are so many people out there, especially scientists, that have no comprehension of the risk of unintended consequences arising from their actions. These people will never learn; our knowledge of physics during WWII was fairly limited and there was considerable fear that detonating a nuclear device could start a chain reaction that would destroy the entire planet, and possibly the universe...they did it anyway.

Freydis
Sunday, October 21st, 2007, 01:34 PM
Someone explain this to me. We are told that most Europeans think of global warming as the most threatening problem to face humanity. Global warming is a result of the human quest for more energy.

To go slightly off topic, global warming isn't entirely caused by humans. If one looks at a graph of the global temperatures across the ages

http://mysite.verizon.net/mhieb/WVFossils/PageMill_Images/image160.gif

Here is a graph I've found of temperature from 18 000 years to now. If one draws one's attention to the "Holocene maximum", one will realise that higher temperatures have occurred without industrial influence during a time when there was modern homo sapiens wandering the Earth. If one also looks at temperatures from prior eras, one will realise also that we are at quite a cool point in the Earth's history. If one also looks, one will notice we are coming out of a small ice age. Perhaps humans have accelerated this process, but the Earth cools and warms. It's not just our influence. The Earth has been doing this for millions of years.

If one is interested in it, one can read an interesting article from a geologic perspective here: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/Newsletter/NL99W/PDF/globlwrmw99.pdf

I don't deny the globe is warming. I just don't think we should say humans are the only reason.


Couldn't physicists, time and money be spent more profitably, especially in light of our current needs? Finding ever smaller sub-atomic particles just like theories on the Big Bang are not high on the priorities of most people.

Perhaps if physicists are retrained as engineers, they might be of some use? I always had thought that physicists were mostly theorists.

The Horned God
Sunday, October 21st, 2007, 05:55 PM
Perhaps if physicists are retrained as engineers, they might be of some use? I always had thought that physicists were mostly theorists.

There are two basic types of physicist. There are the Theoretical Physicists and the experimental Physicists. The Theoretical Physicists are at the top (in theory).They are more like the mathematicians and, like Einstein for example, don't generally do any experiments themselves. Usually this is because the experiments can't be done, anyway.

They generally don't make any money from their endeavors unless they either develop a compelling new theory like Einstein, or are able to write a book that breaks into popular culture like Steven Hawking. But at least they always occupy the high moral ground. ;)

Below them in the cosmic order are the Experimental Physicists, like the guys who work at CERN, they are more like engineer's, and some of them earn very good salaries. They really just try to prove or disprove the theories of the previous generation of Theoretical Physicists. It's their job for instance to wonder if doubling the power in the collider will lead to blowing up the world...

Below them are the engineers, whose job it is to devise ways of actually building and maintaining the giant apparatus used to carry out the experiments. They may be at the bottom in order of things, scientifically, becaue they really don't apply any principles in the course of their work that couldn't be explained to Newton or at least to Faraday in about half an hour.
However, their pay scale tends to be the best of all.

SchwarzeSonne
Sunday, October 21st, 2007, 11:28 PM
To go slightly off topic, global warming isn't entirely caused by humans. If one looks at a graph of the global temperatures across the ages

I don't deny the globe is warming. I just don't think we should say humans are the only reason.

One can cite graphs upon graphs to say "Oh, look at this time frame...we aren't too bad, after all!"

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c1/2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

But, what does that matter?

The best place to find information is the IPCC (http://www.ipcc.ch/) who asserts the claim with almost total certainty that man-made carbon gases are the major source for UN-natural climate change...they are plenty aware the earth has gone though such changes in the past, nonetheless the rapidity and intensity of what is going on now is the central issue...not just the change itself.

Cars, beef industry, coal burning, ect. are all pretty un-natural things to have on the planet, thus it is only reasonable that the earth undergo un-natural change.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Monday, October 22nd, 2007, 07:09 AM
To go slightly off topic, global warming isn't entirely caused by humans. If one looks at a graph of the global temperatures across the ages

http://mysite.verizon.net/mhieb/WVFossils/PageMill_Images/image160.gif

Here is a graph I've found of temperature from 18 000 years to now. If one draws one's attention to the "Holocene maximum", one will realise that higher temperatures have occurred without industrial influence during a time when there was modern homo sapiens wandering the Earth. If one also looks at temperatures from prior eras, one will realise also that we are at quite a cool point in the Earth's history. If one also looks, one will notice we are coming out of a small ice age. Perhaps humans have accelerated this process, but the Earth cools and warms. It's not just our influence. The Earth has been doing this for millions of years.

If one is interested in it, one can read an interesting article from a geologic perspective here: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/Newsletter/NL99W/PDF/globlwrmw99.pdf

I don't deny the globe is warming. I just don't think we should say humans are the only reason.



Perhaps if physicists are retrained as engineers, they might be of some use? I always had thought that physicists were mostly theorists.

I completely agree with you about global warming. Physicists were retained as engineers during the Manhattan Project. They were on-board during the 1960s when we went to the moon. They do war-related work all the time. What is wrong with asking physicists to work for a living and be responsible for actual results? There is not a great deal of pressure to produce results on a chalkboard.

Freydis
Monday, October 22nd, 2007, 10:54 PM
One can cite graphs upon graphs to say "Oh, look at this time frame...we aren't too bad, after all!"

Because geological data about the very climatic history of our planet is totally useless, right?


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c1/2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

This graph only goes around 2000 years. A mere blink in geological time. Find a graph that looks like this that goes back 18000 years or data that does this and then we can talk.

To compare graphs they usually must cover a time period of similar duration.


The best place to find information is the IPCC (http://www.ipcc.ch/) who asserts the claim with almost total certainty that man-made carbon gases are the major source for UN-natural climate change...they are plenty aware the earth has gone though such changes in the past, nonetheless the rapidity and intensity of what is going on now is the central issue...not just the change itself.

The IPCC says here that they do not do any of their own research http://www.ipcc.ch/about/about.htm. I would think their sources would be a better place.

Not all carbon gases are "manmade" anyways-- there is frozen methane (CH4) on the seafloor that is much more potent (in terms of warming) than carbon dioxide (CO2) (by about 10 times). These stocks of frozen methane have been linked to prior global warming.

I think it's egotistical to assume all the "blame" for climate change. We always overestimate our importance in matters.


Cars, beef industry, coal burning, ect. are all pretty un-natural things to have on the planet, thus it is only reasonable that the earth undergo un-natural change.

Accelerated change that is based on a natural process.

Since when have humans and human activity become "unnatural"?

Tomas
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008, 02:21 PM
I have spoken to an Experimental Physicist that works at CERN. I can tell you that the likelihood of black holes being created and devouring us is nonexistent.

If I remember correctly, I was told that the theory that predicts their creation also predicts their immediate evaporation. Furthermore, according to Einstein's theory of relativity, it should be theoretically impossible to produce mini black holes. Despite the fact that this does not rule out the possibility of their creation in practice, we needn't worry if we acknowledge that they would immediately evaporate. This was also the response from Brian Cox, a Particle Physicist from the University of Manchester, England, to a question from a student at a college I used to study at.

Another thing to bear in mind - and this will put it all in perspective - is that there are cosmic rays produced in outer space with energies far greater than that of anything the LHC could produce. Nature has generated the equivalent of about one million collisions from LHC experiments on Earth over the past billions years and we're still here.



Someone explain this to me. We are told that most Europeans think of global warming as the most threatening problem to face humanity. Global warming is a result of the human quest for more energy. So why is/has Physics spent so many billions and continues to spend so many billions on a problem which is at worst only in the minds of physicists and at best can wait until more pressing matters are treated? Besides the money involved, there is the the number of physicists involved with this and similar quests and the seemingly irrational fixation Physics has with "proving Einstein right". Couldn't physicists, time and money be spent more profitably, especially in light of our current needs? Finding ever smaller sub-atomic particles just like theories on the Big Bang are not high on the priorities of most people.

Hey Dr. Solar Wolff. Don't interpret my response to your post as threatening, I'm merely pointing out how important the majority of research in Physics is.

If research hadn't been conducted over the last century, we would be lagging behind in our development significantly. Furthermore, our quality of life would not be as good as it is now. For instance, without the discovery of the positron - the antiparticle of the electron - we would not have developed Positron Emission Tomography, a safe method of medical imaging which has undoubtedly saved some people's lives. No one would have been able to forsee the consequence of such a discovery, just like no one can forsee the new technology and insights that might result from information yielded by the LHC. There are countless applications of the numerous ideas found in Physics which have been and will continue to be useful to humanity.

Proving a scientific theory to be right is not something I would call an irrational fixation because it is the use of these very theories that allow us to progress. For example, Einstein's theory of relativity predicts that the clocks on satellites orbiting the Earth run slower than those on the surface of the Earth. This prediction is used by the American army to calibrate their satellite navigation system.

I would say that Physics could save us from global warming, so I do not see why we should not spend billions and billions on research.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positron
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positron_emission_tomography
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311130811.htm

Mazorquero
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008, 03:25 PM
Quantum and relativity mechanics may look extremely theoretical to the most of us, and it used to be to me as well. However, if we look carefully at the last improvements made in electronics and nuclear energy, we'll se that such advances would have been impossible without the investigatins carrie out by people like Rutherford or Planck.
In enterprises where electronic and software developments are made, physicists work along with engineers in harmony. Even in other areas of scientific knowledge, like materials sciences, this colaboration is needed, and only in the past century a real bond between physics and engineering was stablished. Previously engineering was a too empirical subject, and physics had little to no utility as nobody knew how to use it properly. Industrial revolution helped to change that. The thing is that depending on the field of physical sciences being studied, physicists may be "more advanced" than engineers and viceversa. In quantum mechanics for example, a lot of discoveries don't have a practical use yet, but engineers along physicist are trying to change it (i.e. I know that three-atoms microprocessors are being investigated). In thermodynamics, engineering helped to develop steam machines before a serious theoretical study was made, and that impulsed people like Carnot to make a deeper reasearch (if it haven't been like that, modern engines would be a fantasy).