Friday, September 26, 2008

End of the World as We Know It (and I feel fine)

There’s been a lot of talk and hoopla about this huge particle collider, the Hadron, in Switzerland (actually on the Swiss-Franco border just outside Geneva) at CERN.

There is even a rap about the collider on youtube (see below).

I must admit I’ve watched the rap three times and am still a bit fuzzy on exactly how it all it works, but the whole idea is very cool in a Star Trek kind of way (not that I was ever into Star Trek, mind you).

As per their usual m.o. to sell papers by frightening the general public, most of the media has focused on the potential to create a black hole which will suck up the earth and/or the rest of the galaxy. Others have said they may just blow up Geneva. Some people say, that's fine as there's not much to do in Geneva anyway.

Now, I may be crazy or just far too trusting but there are something like 8,000 scientists working on this from twenty different countries. They have been spending two decades on this project, spending billions of dollars. I'm going to assume that they've done their homework here.

Would they seriously go through with this experiment if they thought they were going to obliterate humanity?

Hmmn,...on second thought…

No seriously, its 8,000 scientists. I think we can trust the fact that if there is an error in their calculations or their theorizing, that one of those 8,000 scientists might raise their hand and say, “Hey guys, according to this calculation, we might totally vaporize ourselves and I don't know about you but that would seriously cut into my time playing Spore...” In fact, that discussion might have already happened (8,000 scientists in a room and not one of them is thinking about their own hide? I don’t think so.)

There is of course the other discussion of why they are doing this in the first place and what they hope to learn. They answer that they don’t know, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could create a little big bang just like at the beginning of time?

Um, okay…but it would be cool if I could levitate, or we could eradicate malaria or fight global warming or I don't know, disarm the world from nuclear weapons...but y'know, super colliders, that's fun, too.

They talk about the success of this and proving a theory of matter and anti-matter which could be on the same scale as splitting the atom and creating nuclear energy.

And we all know where that could lead…

And if you don’t,. you should come watch my show this fall.

Then there are the conspiracy enthusiasts, those who avidly wept for months when The X-Files went off the air, who believe that the governments have conspired against all us normal citizens…For instance, its not an experiment and they know exactly what they’re doing--they are using alien technology, probably found from the crash site in New Mexico to open another doorway to another dimension, like Stargate. Others think maybe these scientists are aliens themselves trying to return to their home planet. Some people on Wall Street think its tied to our economic collapse somehow...

Brian Cox is the “rock star” of the science world. I know that’s a little like saying a mushroom is the rock star of the vegetable world. Of course, given his haircut and nice clothes, he could in fact, be an alien. But if you want to know more about the collider or the universe and/or the Unified Theory of Everything (well, not really), check out this talk from TED.

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