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I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

The progress of science is strewn, like an ancient desert trail, with the bleached skeletons of discarded theories which once seemed to possess eternal life. - Arthur Koestler

One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison. – Bertrand Russell

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. - Samuel Johnson

A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open. – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. – John Stuart Mill

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform. – Mark Twain

Although science has led to the generally high living standards that most of the industrialized world enjoys today, the astounding discoveries underpinning them were made by a tiny number of courageous, out-of-step, visionary, determined, and passionate scientists working to their own agenda and radically challenging the status quo. – Donald W. Braben

An old error is always more popular than a new truth. — German Proverb

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself. – Mark Twain

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

A clash of doctrines is not a disaster, but an opportunity. - Alfred North Whitehead

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. – Samuel Johnson

Man’s mind cannot grasp the causes of events in their completeness, but the desire to find those causes is implanted in man’s soul. And without considering the multiplicity and complexity of the conditions any one of which taken separately may seem to be the cause, he snatches at the first approximation to a cause that seems to him intelligible and says: “This is the cause!” – Leo Tolstoy

The evolution of the world tends to show the absolute importance of the category of the individual apart from the crowd. - Soren Kierkegaard

Who does not know the truth is simply a fool, yet who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a criminal. – Bertold Brecht

How easily the learned give up the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of ideas in their imagination. – Adam Smith

Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned. – Mark Twain

The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. If we watch ourselves honestly, we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated. – Arthur Koestler

Whenever the human race assembles to a number exceeding four, it cannot stand free speech. – Mark Twain

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. - Adam Smith

There isn’t anything so grotesque or so incredible that the average human being can’t believe it. – Mark Twain

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. – John Stuart Mill

It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere. – Voltaire

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.- Blaise Pascal.

Illusion is the first of all pleasures. – Voltaire

The applause of a single human being is of great consequence. – Samuel Johnson

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Challenging God: CERN risks world in search for truth

In lawsuits, qualified physicists say doomsday risk in CERN accelerator project not zero

PR machine labels critics nervous ninnies, but is Stephen Hawking infallible?

A-Bomb risked infinite chain reaction, Hans Bethe told us; are physicists irresponsible children with planet for plaything?

A very good rap video

nythadroncolliderpicbymaximilianbriceatcern.jpgIgnoring the warnings of critics who said it risked the entire planet shrinking to the size of a golf ball and disappearing into a black hole, the international consortium CERN built the world’s greatest particle accelerator outside Geneva and started it up seven weeks ago (September 10 Wed).

Unfortunately, things soon went wrong, multiplying the concern felt by many that in this case, humanity’s hubris may be punished as we peek under the skirts of the universe.

First, a thunderbolt struck an above ground transformer, and soon after an internal connection melted and forced the whole thing to be shut down as freezing helium leaked into the underground tunnel and caused damage which cannot be assessed until the contraption, aka as the Large Hadron Collider, is warmed up.

These indications of NASA-like incompetence (why wasn’t the transformer properly grounded?) in building the monster increased the alarm of skeptics but provided more time for them to press for a proper evaluation of the consequences of the project when it reaches full speed, after restart in the spring.

The more imaginative detected the response of a discomfited universe to the CERN initiative, a reaction from the future to prevent the achievement of what will otherwise pull it inside out. We are talking about physicists here, oddly enough. More about that later. The less expert may simply fear the onset of divine retribution.

A pajama party on the Titanic?

On the morning of the start up all was champagne and toasts, however. In the US a bitter sweet, early morning celebration was held by American nuclear physicists dressed in pajamas in Fermilab at Batavia as the new $8 billion, 10 trillion volt CERN particle smasher revved up for the first time, even though it meant that this nation is losing its preeminence in the field of high energy collision physics to Switzerland. Congress scotched a $20 trillion volt Texas project in 1993 after the enormous 54 mile long circular tunnel had been dug in Dallas, so the most powerful high energy particle collider here will remain the 2 trillion volt machine at Fermilab near Chicago.

Dennis Overbye, the New York Times man on the job, dutifully reported the glee felt by those involved as the Large Hadron Collider cranked up:

“It’s a fantastic moment,” said Lyn Evans, who has been the project director of the collider since its inception. “We can now look forward to a new era of understanding about the origins and evolution of the universe.”

Eventually, the collider is expected to accelerate protons to energies of 7 trillion electron volts and then smash them together, recreating conditions in the primordial fireball only a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists hope the machine will be a sort of Hubble Space Telescope of inner space, allowing them to detect new subatomic particles and forces of nature.

In particular, string theorists looked forward to an annual pile of data equivalent to a stack of CDs rising 12 miles towards the moon which might yield evidence of the extra dimensions they need to validate the speculative mathematics of their theory of everything, which currently languishes for lack of any physical proof at all.

The project also excites physicists by holding out the promise of discovering the famously elusive Higgs particle, which will account for the existence of mass in the universe, and explain why one quarter of it is invisible.

As the first protons were hurled around the 17 miles long course, 300 feet deep under ground near a city whose electricity supply will be half used up by the lovely machine (see pic by Maximilian Brice) Google saluted the feat with a special logo which made it look as if it was bending under the huge forces generated by the LHC.lhccollidergooglelogo.gif

Here is Dennis Overbye’s full account:September 11, 2008
Scientists Activate Particle Collider

BATAVIA, ILL. — Science rode a beam of subatomic particles and a river of champagne into the future on Wednesday.

After 14 years of labor, scientists at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva successfully activated the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest, most powerful particle collider and, at $8 billion, the most expensive scientific experiment to date.

At 4:28 a.m., Eastern time, scientists sent the beam of protons around the collider’s 17-mile-long racetrack, 300 feet underneath the Swiss-French border, and then sent another beam through again.

“It’s a fantastic moment,” said Lyn Evans, who has been the project director of the collider since its inception. “We can now look forward to a new era of understanding about the origins and evolution of the universe.”

Eventually, the collider is expected to accelerate protons to energies of 7 trillion electron volts and then smash them together, recreating conditions in the primordial fireball only a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists hope the machine will be a sort of Hubble Space Telescope of inner space, allowing them to detect new subatomic particles and forces of nature.

An ocean away from Geneva, the L.H.C.’s activation was watched with bittersweet excitement here at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, which until that moment had the reigning particle collider.

Some 400 students and onlookers, and three local mayors, gathered overnight to watch the dawn of a new generation in high-energy physics, applauding each milestone of the night as the scientists slowly steered the protons on their course at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Many of them, including the lab’s director, Pier Oddone, were wearing pajamas or bathrobes or even night caps bearing Fermilab “Pajama Party” patches on them.

Outside, a half moon was hanging low in a cloudy sky as a reminder that the universe is beautiful and mysterious and that another small step into that mystery was about to be taken.

Dr. Oddone lauded the new machine as the result of “two and a half decades of dreams to open up this huge new territory in the exploration of the natural world.”

Roger Aymar, CERN’s director, called the new collider a “discovery machine.” The buzz was worldwide. Gordon Kane, of the University of Michigan called the new collider “a why machine,” in a posting on the blog “Cosmic Variance.”

Others, worried about speculation that a black hole could emerge from the proton collisions, have called it a doomsday machine, to the dismay of CERN physicists who can point to a variety of studies and reports that say that this fear is nothing but science fiction.

But Boaz Klima, a Fermilab particle physicist, said that the speculation had nevertheless helped create buzz and excitement about particle physics. “Bad publicity is still publicity,” he said. “This is something that people can talk to their neighbors about.”

The only thing physicists agree on is that they don’t know what will happen — what laws prevail — when the collisions reach the energies just after the Big Bang.

“That there are many theories means we don’t have a clue,” said Dr. Oddone. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Many physicists hope to materialize a hypothetical particle called the Higgs boson, which according to theory endows other particles with mass. They also hope to identify the nature of the mysterious invisible dark matter that makes up 25 percent of the universe and provides the scaffolding for galaxies. Some dream of revealing new dimensions of space-time.

But those discoveries are in the future. If the new collider is a car, then what physicists did today was turn on an engine, that will now sit and warm up for a couple of months before anybody drives it anywhere. The first meaningful collisions, at an energy of 5 trillion electron volts, will not happen until late fall.

Nevertheless, the symbolism of the moment was not lost on the experts and non-experts gathered here.

At 2 a.m. local time, Herman White, a physicist here, and master of ceremonies for the night, took the stage to announce the night’s schedule. For at least the next few hours, he said, “we are still the highest energy accelerator in the world,” to wild applause.

In an interview earlier that day, Dr. Oddone called it a “bittersweet moment.”

Once upon a time the United States ruled particle physics. For the last two decades, Fermilab’s Tevatron, which hurls protons and their mirror opposites, anti-protons, together at energies of a trillion electron volts was the world’s largest particle machine.

By the end of the year, when the CERN collider has revved up to 5 trillion electron volts, the Fermilab machine will be a distant second. Electron volts are the currency of choice in physics for both mass and energy. The more you have, the closer and hotter you can punch back in time towards the Big Bang.

In 1993, the United States Congress canceled plans for an even bigger collider and more powerful machine, the Superconducting Supercollider, after its cost ballooned to $11 billion. That collider, its former director Roy Schwitters of the University of Texas in Austin said recently, would have been in operation around 2001.

Dr. Schwitters said that American particle physics — the search for the most fundamental rules and constituents of nature — had never really recovered from the loss of the supercollider. “One non-renewable resource is a person’s time and good years,” he said, adding that many young people have left the field for astrophysics or cosmology.

Dr. Oddone, Fermilab’s director, said the uncertainties of steady Congressional funding made the situation at Fermilab and physics in general in the United States “suspenseful.”

CERN, on the other hand, is an organization of 20 countries, whose budget is determined by treaty and thus stable. The year after the supercollider was killed, CERN decided to go ahead with its own collider.

Fermilab and the United States, which eventually contributed $531 million for the collider, have not exactly been shut out. Dr. Oddone said that Americans constitute about a quarter of the scientists who have built the four giant detectors that sit at points around the racetrack to collect and analyze the debris from the primordial fireballs.

In fact, a remote control room for monitoring one of those experiments, known poetically as the Compact Muon Solenoid, was built at Fermilab, just off the lobby of the main building here.

“The mood is great at this place,” he said, noting that the Tevatron is humming productively and accumulating data at a much more rapid pace than the CERN collider will initially produce. There is even still a chance that Tevatron could find the sacred Higgs boson before the new hadron collider, which is bound to have a slow start.

Another target of physicists is a principle called supersymmetry, which predicts, among other things, that there is a vast population of new particle species left over from the Big Bang and waiting to be discovered, one of which could be the long-sought dark matter.

“It would be a very rich life if supersymmetry is found,” Dr. Oddone said. “It would amount to permanent employment for physicists for decades.”

“The truly surprising thing is if we don’t see anything.”

By the time festivities started, at 2 a.m. Chicago time, outside and inside the control room for the solenoid detector, Fermilab had been festooned with balloons and the accelerator was already half an hour late. The superconducting magnets that guide the protons around on their path have to be cooled to 1.9 degrees Kelvin, about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit above absolute zero, and one of the eight sectors of the underground ring was too warm, so they had to wait to cool it back down.

Then Lyn Evans, the collider project director, outlined the plan for the evening: sending a bunch of protons clockwise farther and farther around the collider until they made it all the way. He confessed to not knowing how long it would take, noting that for a previous CERN accelerator it had taken 12 hours. “I hope this will go much faster,” he said.

Twenty minutes later, when the displays in the control room showed that the beam had made it to its first stopping point, the crowd applauded. Twenty minutes after that, the physicists erupted in cheers when their consoles showed that the muon solenoid had detected collisions between the beam and stray gas molecules in the otherwise vacuum beam pipe. Their detector was alive and working.

Finally at 3:27 Chicago time, the display showed the protons had made it all the way around to another big detector named Atlas, whose members quickly confirmed that their experiment had also seen collisions.

At Fermilab, they broke out the champagne. Dr. Oddone congratulated his European colleagues. “We have all worked together and brought this machine to life,” he said. “We’re so excited about sending a beam around. Wait until we start having collisions and doing physics.”
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

What’s wrong with this picture? No one knows, that’s the point.

exploding-champagne.jpgAll in all, a marvelous moment in the history of science, you may think, promoted by CERN as a triumph of enlightened scientific exploration over the querulous caveats of outsiders, who have worried that that the whole thing may end in sending some or all of Creation down an army of black holes.

So what is the truth of the matter? It is this. A fundamental problem is clear to all that have studied the literature carefully. The unprecedentedly high new power level of 7 trillion volts will take us far into unknown atomic territory where if truth be told, no one knows for certain what will happen.

Some well qualified physicists are so worried they have initiated not one but two lawsuits to stop the start up until the underlying theory is reviewed and the risk involved properly assessed. They feel the review on safety unlike the CERN safety assessment must be independent of all the people on the payroll of one of the largest science projects ever undertaken, which has built up a powerful political lobby and whose international character (60 nations, including the US, have funded it) has given it diplomatic immunity from any individual government’s supervision and control. Many CERN vehicles have diplomatic license plates.

The essential issue is simple. If there is the smallest risk of enormous catastrophe, such as the planet being eaten up in anywhere from a few minutes to four or more years as some physicists have calculated, the risk by definition is large (because in standard risk assessment, the chance of damage result X is multiplied by the severity of X).

Is there a small risk, or no risk? In a New Yorker article last year, Elizabeth Kolbert recorded the fact that CERN officials had instructed personnel always to state the risk to the public as “zero”, whatever it actually was calculated to be.

Later in April this year Dennis Overbye in the New York Times wrote a telling piece about how little time scientists spent calculating their responsibility to the human race and planet, Gauging a Collider’s Odds of Creating a Black Hole:

In a paper published in 2000 with the title “Might a Laboratory Experiment Destroy Planet Earth?” Francesco Calogero, a nuclear physicist at the University of Rome and co-winner of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Pugwash conferences on arms control, deplored a tendency among his colleagues to promulgate a “leave it to the experts” attitude.

“Many, indeed most, of them,” he wrote, “seem to me to be more concerned with the public relations impact of what they, or others, say and write, than in making sure that the facts are presented with complete scientific objectivity.”

One problem is that society has never agreed on a standard of what is safe in these surreal realms when the odds of disaster might be tiny but the stakes are cosmically high. In such situations, probability estimates are often no more than “informed betting odds,” said Martin Rees, a Cambridge University cosmologist, the astronomer royal and the author of “Our Final Hour.” Adrian Kent, also of Cambridge, said in a paper in 2003 reviewing scientists’ failure to calculate adequately and characterize accurately risks to the public, that even the most basic question, “ ‘How improbable does a catastrophe have to be to justify proceeding with an experiment?’ seems never to have been seriously examined.”

April 15, 2008
Gauging a Collider’s Odds of Creating a Black Hole

In Walker Percy’s “Love in the Ruins,” the protagonist, a doctor and an inventor, recites what he calls the scientist’s prayer. It goes like this:

“Lord, grant that my work increase knowledge and help other men.

“Failing that, Lord, grant that it will not lead to man’s destruction.

“Failing that, Lord, grant that my article in Brain be published before the destruction takes place.”

Today we require more than prayers that a scientific experiment will not lead to the end of the world. We demand hard-headed calculations. But whom can we trust to do them?

That question has been raised by the impending startup of the Large Hadron Collider. It starts smashing protons together this summer at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or Cern, outside Geneva, in hopes of grabbing a piece of the primordial fire, forces and particles that may have existed a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Critics have contended that the machine could produce a black hole that could eat the Earth or something equally catastrophic.

To most physicists, this fear is more science fiction than science fact. At a recent open house weekend, 73,000 visitors, without pitchforks or torches, toured the collider without incident.

Nevertheless, some experts say too much hype and not enough candor on the part of scientists about the promises and perils of what they do could boomerang into a public relations disaster for science, opening the door for charlatans and demagogues.

In a paper published in 2000 with the title “Might a Laboratory Experiment Destroy Planet Earth?” Francesco Calogero, a nuclear physicist at the University of Rome and co-winner of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Pugwash conferences on arms control, deplored a tendency among his colleagues to promulgate a “leave it to the experts” attitude.

“Many, indeed most, of them,” he wrote, “seem to me to be more concerned with the public relations impact of what they, or others, say and write, than in making sure that the facts are presented with complete scientific objectivity.”

One problem is that society has never agreed on a standard of what is safe in these surreal realms when the odds of disaster might be tiny but the stakes are cosmically high. In such situations, probability estimates are often no more than “informed betting odds,” said Martin Rees, a Cambridge University cosmologist, the astronomer royal and the author of “Our Final Hour.” Adrian Kent, also of Cambridge, said in a paper in 2003 reviewing scientists’ failure to calculate adequately and characterize accurately risks to the public, that even the most basic question, “ ‘How improbable does a catastrophe have to be to justify proceeding with an experiment?’ seems never to have been seriously examined.”

Dr. Calogero commented, as did Dr. Kent, in 2000 after a very public battle on the safety of another accelerator, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, or Rhic, at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. Dr. Calogero said he hoped to apply a gentle pressure on Cern to treat these issues with seriousness. “A crusade against it is a danger,” he said of the new collider. “It would not be based on rational argument.”

Fears about the Brookhaven collider first centered on black holes but soon shifted to the danger posed by weird hypothetical particles, strangelets, that critics said could transform the Earth almost instantly into a dead, dense lump. Ultimately, independent studies by two groups of physicists calculated that the chances of this catastrophe were negligible, based on astronomical evidence and assumptions about the physics of the strangelets. One report put the odds of a strangelet disaster at less than one in 50 million, less than a chance of winning some lottery jackpots. Dr. Kent, in a 2003 paper, used the standard insurance company method to calculate expected losses to explore how stringent this bound on danger was. He multiplied the disaster probability times the cost, in this case the loss of the global population, six billion. A result was that, in actuarial terms, the Rhic collider could kill up to 120 people in a decade of operation.

“Put this way, the bound seems far from adequately reassuring,” Dr. Kent wrote.

Alvaro de Rujula of Cern, who was involved in writing a safety report, said extending the insurance formula that way violated common sense. “Applied to all imaginable catastrophes, it would result in World Paralysis,” he wrote.

Besides, the random nature of quantum physics means that there is always a minuscule, but nonzero, chance of anything occurring, including that the new collider could spit out man-eating dragons.

Doomsday from particle physics is part of the culture.

Next year will see the release of the film version of “Angels and Demons,” the prequel to Dan Brown’s “DaVinci Code,” in which the bad guys use a Cern accelerator to gather antimatter for a bomb to blow up the Vatican, and it includes scenes at Cern.

In Douglas Preston’s “Blasphemy,” a best seller last winter, the operators of a giant particle collider in New Mexico find themselves talking to an entity that sounds like God before religious fanatics descend on the lab and destroy it.

Some physicists, who have been waiting 14 years for the new collider, have proclaimed in papers and press releases increasingly ambitious and unlikely hopes, including proving a long-shot version of string theory by producing microscopic black holes.

Inevitably, these black holes have taken center stage in the latest round of doomsday alarms. Most theorists will say the version of their theory that predicts black holes is extremely unlikely — though not impossible. But the chance that such a black hole would not instantly evaporate according to a theory famously propounded by Stephen Hawking in 1974 is even more weirdly unlikely, the theorists say.

Cern’s most recent safety report, in 2003, focused mostly on refuting the strangelet threat in the hadron collider and devoted just three pages to black holes, saying they “do not present a conceivable risk.” It gave no odds. An anonymous Cern committee is working on a final, more comprehensive report.

Neither Dr. Calogero nor Dr. Rees say they are losing sleep over the collider. Some risk is acceptable, even inevitable, in the pursuit of knowledge, they say, and they trust the physicists who have built it.

But it would be more reassuring in the long run, as Dr. Kent noted, if everybody agreed beforehand how much risk is acceptable, before spending billions of dollars and major political capital.

One popular option to determine acceptable risk is to demand that the chance of a man-made disaster be kept below the chance of a natural disaster like being obliterated by an asteroid. Astronomers estimate that chance as one in 50 million in any given year.

Of course, thanks to those pesky quantum laws, disaster could come anytime. Or not. It could happen that the scientist’s prayer will be answered and your discovery will indeed lead to knowledge, human happiness and a new killer ap for iPhones.

“As in all explorations of uncharted domains, there may be a risk,” Dr. Rees wrote, “but there is a hidden cost of saying no.”
Copyright 2008 The New York Times CompanyWe personally recall asking Hans Bethe if those involved in the Manhattan Project ever concluded with 100% certainty that there was no risk of a chain reaction extending to the atmosphere before they set off the first A-bomb and getting a frank admission that indeed no one could be absolutely sure that their calculation that it wouldn’t happen was infallible.

And if you noticed, in his coverage of the CERN startup above, Overbye was able to quote a scientist candidly admitting that “we don’t have a clue” as to what will happen when the LHC reaches maximum power.

“That there are many theories means we don’t have a clue,” said Dr. Oddone. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Stepping off the edge into the unknown

So the reality is that the world is watching the unfolding of a drama to end all dramas in science – not merely the replacement of the US by Europe as the superpower most willing to fund the world’s most expensive effort to find out more about the origin of the universe, but the gamble being taken by the builders that their unauthorized (by the Gods) penetration of the inner sanctum of physical reality will not touch off divine retribution in the form of the Earth being swallowed whole by the micro black holes they intend to create on the way.

For according to well qualified dissident physicists and other scientists the danger, however remote, includes the disappearance of our vulnerable planet down the gullets of an army of black holes conjured up by CERN in its presumptuous challenge to whatever mighty invisible beings rule us from above the ozone layer, or Mighty Being held by some to rule above them (we merely speak metaphorically; right wing religious fundamentalists are not yet involved in this debate, as far as we can tell, though perhaps only because they haven’t heard enough about it).

The arguments presented in the peer-reviewed (or not yet peer reviewed) papers published by these experts will be detailed in our following post. But it is noticeable that several dismiss the chief plank of the safety assessment of CERN, the idea that black holes emanate Hawking radiation and thus dissipate of their own accord, as questionable or even “nonsense” which depends on reversing time.

Not-to-worry-about-it CERN video

katemcalpine.jpgMeanwhile, for those who like not to worry about such things, a young physicist-writer working at CERN, birthplace of the Web, has produced a very good rap video, large Hadron Rap, describing what the LHC is all about in rhythm upbeat enough to make them forget that she is oblivious to the issue of how safe the world will be next spring.

For those who like their physics in rhyme, there is now a rap video. The author and rapper is Kate McAlpine, aka alpinekat, a science writer who works at CERN and who also has a rap about neurons on YouTube.

She says she wrote the lyrics during her 40-minute bus commute from Geneva out to the lab. In an e-mail message, she emphasized that this was not an official CERN project, and that in fact that she had to get CERN’s press office to vouch for her so she could go down into the tunnel where some filming took place.

“My friends took a bit of convincing before they’d dance on camera,” she added. “However, unlike the first rap video about the neurochip, there was no tequila involved.”(Let the Proton Smashing Begin. (The Rap Is Already Written.)

Others who might be more interested in the possibility of physicists with kindergarten levels of curiosity and immaturity sacrificing the planet and future generations in the cause of divining whether their latest unproven theory might have some substance can keep a wary eye on the date of May 1st, 2009, which is when CERN plans to start their microspace travel machine up again and slowly take it into realms of speed and power hitherto unexplored by humans in this universe, as they state:

LHC Commissioning with beam started on 10th September 2008. Initial beam commissioning progressed extremely well. However, during the commissioning of the main dipole circuit in sector 34 on the 19th September (without beam), a number of magnets were damaged in an incident that saw a large amount of Helium released into the tunnel. The repair of the damaged region of sector 34 will run into the planned winter shutdown. We go for circulating beam in the LHC from May 1st next at the earliest. (LHC Commissioning with Beam)

That is, they should mark the date with a large question mark in their calendars if they wish to take seriously the papers we shall detail in our next post.

10 Responses to “Challenging God: CERN risks world in search for truth”

  1. Baby Pong Says:

    Your tone implies that you think that the destruction of the earth and its occupying “civilization” by way of its being sucked into a CERN-made black hole would be a bad thing. I say, it’s about time.

    How can we maximize the chances of this happening?

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    ‘Straordinary attitude, Pong. Are you not enjoying life and the vast panoply of exotic enjoyments it affords, including the parade of human folly passing under your supercilious nose? Are you not glued to the satellite HDTV inspecting every clue as to what we are to expect from tomorrow, whether the triumph of a black-white, rich-poor, cool-hot newcomer who has swept the pot in his first encounter with the bigtime bad boys, or the victory of the old hand who has sacrificed his honor to gain the support of the Bush gang and the coonasses who inhabit the deepest regions of this proud, God fearing culture?

    Does all this not make you wish to live, at least long enough to see how it all plays out?

  3. MacDonald Says:

    If I were interested in horse races I’d go watch the Derby.

  4. Truthseeker Says:

    You are not aware that this election has consequences?

  5. Baby Pong Says:

    Aren’t you, TS, as a science buff, eager to see an actual black hole do its stuff? It would be fascinating to watch it devour the earth, especially if it takes four years as some physicists have calculated. Any true scientist would be overjoyed to have the opportunity to witness such a once in a lifetime phenomenon.

    You could stand back at a safe distance and watch John Peemore’s body get sucked into the hole, little by little, starting with his tie, until there was nothing left of him but his grin. This is one show I don’t want to miss, and I urge you to change your position regarding CERN, and agree with me that they should do all in their power to make this great experiment go awry and spin out of control.

    I’d love to see that fraud Obama get sucked in, but I’m sure his SS guards will protect him and his puppetmaster David by constantly moving them far away from the hole.

  6. MacDonald Says:

    TS: No!

    Pong (-:

    Consider this a graphic representation of John going down the hole.

  7. Truthseeker Says:

    With Obama now pretty much a shoo in at 9 pm NYC time (Pa is won, Ohio too (sorry, Joe the Plumber), at least until the votes gets mysteriously reversed at midnight) we are in a generous mood and with entertainment the key mood of the evening, yes, we agree it would be interesting to see what happens with CERN given the green light and all the wet blanket naysaying scaredy cats kept behind the rope.

    Any true scientist would put “let’s see what happens” ahead of “it just might end the world” and we are proud to join the roster.

    However, let’s dispense with the characterizations of our new mulatto President as a “fraud” simply because unlike Nader who speaks the truth one sentence after another he knows how to pander to the ignorant and the powerful and get elected and thus gain the means to improve the world regardless of the views of the unwashed.

    This is the man who now will clean up the mess created by Republicans unleashed to do their worst. He will reintroduce America to the 21 st Century and a world abroad whose leaders are already in thrall. The poor and middle classes in dire straits will be rescued, energy will be moved away from oil, the polar bears, gorillas and tigers will be rescued, blacks will be reconciled with whites, and every issue will be throughly analyzed before action is taken – is there any limit to what this man will accomplish by bringing America together and Americans together with the world?!

    Even the Arabs are going to come around to a President with a name like Barack Hussein Obama. The bombers are going to be completely confused and blow themselves up before they can decide who to target.

  8. Baby Pong Says:

    The only remaining question, TS, is whether you’re going to have the world’s largest omelette on your face, or simply a dish of eggs benedict big enough to sate Henry VIII.

  9. Nick Naylor Says:

    Perhaps we can witness the creation of a new universe in accordance with Hindu cosmology: lingam (earth) into yoni (black hole) …

  10. Nick Naylor Says:

    And let’s surely add Lawrence Summers to that list, Baby Pong.

    I agree to the extent that if at least one bank isn’t nationalized, run by civil cervants from FDIC and no “private” management and dedicated to infrastructure, then Obama will be off on the wrong foot.

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