Sunday, September 7, 2008

Kaboom or Cooool?

I've been watching with interest the latest happenings at CERN.
Call it a selfish interest, as I would like to know if I should start living it up over the next week or so before we either get sucked into a black hole or the fabric of the universe is torn apart.
You know, those little everyday things you worry about.

I was extremely surprised when the experiments at CERN were brought up over a Father's Day lunch yesterday, this was starting to make the everyday headlines. Like all conversations when my family get around the table, the debate began..

"There's only a small chance anything will go wrong" was the argument from the others at the table.
My argument: "And the world is full of people who have been proven wrong. Sometimes repeatedly. Have you been watching Bush's Presidency?".

Others: "Mathematically speaking they are saying if they do succeed the black hole will exist for the tiniest amount of time"
My argument: "What if someone forgot to carry the one?!!"

Others: "The test is being conducted 100m underground"
My argument: "A few BILLION kilometres past Pluto I think is a more suitable location to be testing this. I hear the Pegasus Galaxy is lovely at this time of year."

So while I played Devil's Advocate over the dining table, I'm actually sitting on the fence with this one.

It fascinates me so I want to see this succeed. At the same time, I've read enough Sci Fi books to know that things like this can go wrong and we don't really have the tested and proven mathematics yet to fully understand the consequences. And let's face it, it's a pretty harsh learning curve.
Computer: "I'm sorry, but your formula was incomplete or not compatible. Report this error to Microsoft?".
Scientist: "Ah, crap"
World: "Kaboom!"

If they do succeed and manage to recreate the few moments after the big bang, there will be much rejoicing and high-fiving (along with the subsequent eye injuries) amongst the scientific community, but what will the impact be on religion?

As time goes by and science continues to make new discoveries, the foundation of some religions is being chipped away at gradually. I have no religious roots so I'm not going through any deep philosophical turmoil, but I can see how some will.

If the big bang is proven and can be recreated, does this mean that evolution needs to be accepted as fact? So, no Adam and Eve? What happens if people start to doubt the concept of heaven and hell? No consequences of actions? Will this experiment cause there to be a new interpretation of the texts such as what is occurring with Pope Benedict now accepting the possibility of life on other planets?

I'm a karma person so I always believe in consequences of actions no matter what dimension this device may send me to, but for those who believe a higher being is watching their every move in order to make a judgement as to which direction to send them come their day, this will be interesting.

Anyway, enough of the serious stuff.

I stumbled across some amazing photos of the LHC coming together over the last couple of years (thanks to, but to be honest, some of them haven't been filling me with confidence.

You plan on recreating the start of the universe and this is the biggest fire truck you can find?!

I keep reading how everything associated with the LHC is about being exact. If that is the case, can someone please get this man a welding mask that has some eyeholes in it.

Hypothetically speaking... Do you think everyone gets standy-uppy hair when they get close to this thing?

Click on this image to see the true scale of the facility.

So no matter what the outcome, this is going to be interesting...


Anonymous said...

Coooool !

Interesting post I have to say and I'd like to answer one of your question

Hypothetically speaking... Do you think everyone gets standy-uppy hair when they get close to this thing?

I've been there because my dad was building this and the answer is no, no hair reaction, at least till tomorrow ;)

I understand people worry about this experiment, but did a on-the-job-training there 2 years ago and my chief explained to me that there are no risk !

Narelle from Aus said...

Hey Anonymous! You don't mind if I call you Anon?

I feel much more at peace now that you have answered the most important question of all :) And may I say you are very, very lucky to have seen this thing in the flesh. No matter what the outcome it is an amazing piece of engineering and collaboration by countries.

Although, am I the only one that has the mental picture in my head of after they hit the big red button tomorrow there's going to be a lot of scientists with hair resembling that of someone having stuck their finger in a socket and it will be smoking. Their coats, singed black, with an expression of "Who, What, Where, How, Huh?".

I'm excited about the possibilities of this technology and am in awe that your father got to work on the project.

All the best.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous again !

See the little man in red down there ? this is my father !

And if one day you come up here, there is an Open Day every year, and you can see a lot of things that's really really interesting !


Narelle from Aus said...

Thanks for the photo Cindy. Lucky he was wearing red otherwise I don't think I would have seen him!

It is definitely on my list of places to visit before the world ends, so I'd better get on that plane now :)

I'd be the most annoying person on tour. "So, what does this do? How about that? Can I touch this?"