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September 9, 2008 2:51 AM   Subscribe

In a scant few hours, scientists will make the first attempt to circulate a beam in the Large Hadron Collider. Terrified of nothing, a few deeply misguided morons have sent death threats to the CERN team, probably because of Faith-Based Science.

*sigh* Anyway, what follows is the Just Some Of The Cool Shit About The LHC:
When the accelerator is fired up, two parallel beams of particles will be blasted around the underground ring in opposite directions. At four locations on the circuit, superconducting magnets will bend the beams so that groups of protons smash into each other in a giant chamber rigged with equipment to record the collisions and their aftermath.
Around 300 computer centres in 50 countries will handle data from the vast atom smasher for the next decade, marking what will be the biggest computing exercise in history.

Handing the deluge of data will mark a test for the next generation of computing, called The Grid or "the cloud", and the biggest development in global communication since Tim Berners-Lee, the British inventor of the internet, wrote "www" on a blackboard in 1989 on the site of the huge machine.

The backbone of the grid will be computer centres filled with thousands of PCs linked together. The biggest concentration is the 80,000 PCs in a "farm" at the Large Hadron Collider, part of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN, near Geneva.

When the experiments get running at the LHC, the four great "eyes" of the machine start observing collisions, they will generate 15 million gigabytes of data every year, that is equivalent to one thousand times the information printed in the form of books annually.

"If you put them on CDs and stacked them up, that stack would be more than 12 miles (20 kilometers) tall." said Dr Bob Jones, Director of the EGEE, Enabling grids for e-science project, which is co-funded by the European Commission.

Or, in terms of iPod data, the annual output of the atom smasher is equivalent to a song running for 24,000 years.
When activated, it is theorized that the collider will produce the elusive Higgs boson, the observation of which could confirm the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model of physics and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass. The verification of the existence of the Higgs boson would be a significant step in the search for a Grand Unified Theory, which seeks to unify three of the four known fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force, leaving out only gravity.
BBC Radio 4 will devote a day of programming to the LHC, including covering first injection of beams live on the Today programme. See the BBC website for programming, background etc.

You can try your hand at running the LHC and interpreting collisions on the simulator at www.particledetectives.net

Good luck to all involved.

Previously
posted by chuckdarwin (213 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
15 million is 15 thousand thousand (errr...maybe--this is a UK link), so 15 million gigabytes is 15 petabytes. FYI.

The LHC simulator looks fun. I like the big red SHUTDOWN button...
posted by DU at 3:03 AM on September 9, 2008


Nice knowing you all.
posted by zardoz at 3:04 AM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


To me, this is like getting to see men walk on the moon.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:06 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


"If you dare to go ahead and destroy us all with your satanic machine i will... mmm... kill you!!"
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:07 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


"Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a t---," he said.

Yippee, newspaper hangman! I'll guess the magic word rhymes with "twat."
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:10 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Whatev.
Stuff is always smackin into mine.
Y'all act like youve never seen America's Funniest Home Videos before.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:14 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


DU, we in the UK have the same understanding of 'million' as the rest of the world. We used to do 'billion' differently but not any more.

but yes, you're right :)
posted by altolinguistic at 3:18 AM on September 9, 2008


The good news is, if this destroys the world, and the Christians are right, I'll be in hell and their cries of "I told you so" will be drowned out over the eternal screams of the buring damned. That is, at least, some comfort.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:23 AM on September 9, 2008 [17 favorites]


"drowned out by the eternal screams."

If I'm going to be blasphemous, I should at least use proper grammar.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:24 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


I scanned in the proposal document for the Large Hadron Collider from 1990 (a self link, obviously). The photo spread over the front and back inside covers (the outline is where the tunnels run) gives a good indication of just how large this machine is
posted by dng at 3:26 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


You think that's big? The American Large Hadron Collider is larger, or at least it would have been if (a Democratic) congress hadn't canceled the project fifteen years ago.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:29 AM on September 9, 2008


Bye everyone, and if there is a girl around here in Montreal and who wants to have some last fun hours, leave me a message.
posted by zouhair at 3:35 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


SteveInMaine:
"Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a t---," he said.

Yippee, newspaper hangman! I'll guess the magic word rhymes with "twat."

But: even better, and it amuses me every time is the sentence before:

"But Prof Cox, ex-keyboardist for 1980's [actually 90's] pop group D:REAM, dismissed the hysteria in rock-star style."

That means this man who played keyboard on this song is going to cause our universe to end in a fiery ball of doom. Awesome.

(As an aside: this, because I couldn't find video of Peter Mandelson dancing to D:Ream at the Labour Party Conference)
posted by Hartster at 3:36 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


This LHC Project Simulator is like a quantum physics slot machine that I can't lose at.
posted by clearly at 3:41 AM on September 9, 2008


Has the LHC disproved God yet?
posted by clearly at 3:46 AM on September 9, 2008


BRING IT ON!
posted by From Bklyn at 3:53 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm just less than 4 hours, by train, from CERN. I hope I'm close enough so that, when the LHC decides to become the seed for a new universe, I'll be dragged along. I'm in no mood to ride a train that long.
posted by Goofyy at 3:56 AM on September 9, 2008


If I wasn't so busy today, and didn't have far too many domain names already, I'd be buying hastheLHCdestroyedtheearth.com and creating a page with the word NO in big letters.
posted by malevolent at 3:56 AM on September 9, 2008 [14 favorites]


malevolent, I'm rather busy this afternoon, or I would do that myself.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:01 AM on September 9, 2008


The end is near
posted by caddis at 4:01 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


French acronyms? World's biggest collider? I sense a little compensating here. I'm quite satisfied with my Cockcroft-Walton generator at home, and so's the missus, thank you very much, but then again, I've got nothing to prove, have I?
posted by pracowity at 4:03 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


way ahead of you malevolent
posted by dmd at 4:10 AM on September 9, 2008 [38 favorites]


Okay. The all-day BBC Radio 4 coverage (including live reporting from the control room and and a specially commissioned Torchwood audio episode) looks to be something awesome. They're calling it Big Bang Day.
posted by grabbingsand at 4:10 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has Matt run a backup lately?
posted by pracowity at 4:12 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


If LHC does do something catastrophic, it had better be something universe-destroying, not some pansy-ass planet-sized doomsday. Collapsing a false vacuum would do nicely.
posted by 0xFCAF at 4:23 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Faith....Based...Science. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.
posted by pjern at 4:23 AM on September 9, 2008


My birthday is also tomorrow, and I planned a party...
posted by parmanparman at 4:27 AM on September 9, 2008


Cross-posted from a comment elsewhere, but it's all to do with language:

You know, I think this is fundamentally a problem with the very literal way that professional geeks see the world. For example, if you asked a bloke in the pub whether custard would spontaneously become sentient, he would say "nah, never happen. It's custard, innit?".

Ask a biology researcher or chaos mathemeticician and they'd ho and hum and then say "Well, there's a vanishingly small chance that the proteins in custard could combine to form at least some form of what we could call life, if combined with sufficient energy, such as say, a lightning strike, which some argue was the original impetus for single-celled biological life in the distant past... but really, it's not a risk we should be worried about."

Then the next day the headlines blare "BOFFINS WARN CUSTARD COULD KILL US ALL!!"

If scientists could bring themselves to be slightly less literal and precise in their answers and avoid the constant qualifications, caveats and justifications that characterise scientific argument, just when speaking to excitable journalists, there would be a lot less of this sort of thing.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:28 AM on September 9, 2008 [30 favorites]


Let's be honest, here. Man is pretty good a fucking up his planet in slow-moving ways. But black holes? That's an accomplishment of which we all, as a race, could be proud, posthumously.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:28 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


hastthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com should technically read "not yet".
posted by DU at 4:29 AM on September 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


If scientists could bring themselves to be slightly less literal and precise in their answers and avoid the constant qualifications....

I agree with your assessment, but it still won't help. Instead, the scientists "common sense" answers will be later quoted as "they said it couldn't be done! But now, behold the custard--IT LIVES!"
posted by DU at 4:30 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


.
posted by klausness at 4:33 AM on September 9, 2008


Simple Recipe for Media Scaremongering

Now you can prepare this insidiously tasty treat for anyone who you want to scare the hell out of by not telling them the complete truth. Ideal for tabloid reporters everywhere!

Method

1. Sift facts carefully. Ensure all large truthful lumps are carefully removed from the mixture. These will instill a safe feeling in people, spoiling your recipe.

2. Search through remaining partial truths and find one thing most people have heard about (eg black hole). Combine with scary sounding thing most people have never heard of (eg quantum strangelet).

3. Sprinkle liberally with implausibility. Stir in 5 gallons of hysteria, at least 8 litres of fear and two teaspoons of bigotry.

4. Knead mixture thoroughly till original contents are completely unrecognisable. Arrange into bite sized chunks. Be certain to glaze each one properly with a good amount of sensationalism.

5. Finally, place in a pressure cooker for about six months, or until the public mistrust scientists even more than they normally do.

Serving
Prior to serving, feel free to decorate with arcane sounding things you invented yourself (like "Black Hole Machine").

Be careful not to over-season, as many people may wish to take all of this with a pinch of salt!
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:35 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Concerns have been expressed from time to time about the safety of new high-energy colliders, and the LHC has been no exception. The LHC Safety Assessment Group (LSAG)(*) was asked last year by the CERN management to review previous LHC safety analyses in light of additional experimental results and theoretical understanding. LSAG confirms, updates and extends previous conclusions that there is no basis for any conceivable threat from the LHC. Indeed, recent theoretical and experimental developments reinforce this conclusion. In this Colloquium, the basic arguments presented by LSAG will be reviewed. Cosmic rays of much higher effective centre-of-mass energies have been bombarding the Earth and other astronomical objects for billions of years, and their continued existence shows that the Earth faces no dangers from exotic objects such as hypothetical microscopic black holes that might be produced by the LHC - as discussed in a detailed paper by Giddings and Mangano(**). Measurements of strange particle production at RHIC constrain severely the possible production of strangelets in heavy-ion collisions at the LHC, which also present no danger - as discussed in an addendum to the LSAG report.
posted by Catfry at 4:43 AM on September 9, 2008


So, one article expressing a belief (with no supporting evidence) that it's a "faith based" crowd opposing the LHC. And in that article there seems to be no attempt to contact anyone on the other side for even so much as an expression of their opinion. But you know, it fits with your preconceived notions so it must be right.

Yeah, real objective reporting.
posted by oddman at 4:44 AM on September 9, 2008


Is this machine going to produce super heroes?
posted by brevator at 4:45 AM on September 9, 2008


A rap about the LHC particle accelerator.
posted by chunking express at 4:48 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Will it read "yes" if the earth gets destroyed? I think they're trying to trick us. *ponders*
posted by ersatz at 4:56 AM on September 9, 2008


Haha! dmd, how about a RSS feed then?

(... Couldn't resist. Sorry. Yes, I'm the type that reads source code.)
posted by Xany at 4:58 AM on September 9, 2008


Now, I don't believe that this will cause anything bad to happen. Not a bit. In fact, I think it would be great fun, during the climactic moment where it gets turned on, if one of the scientists shows up dressed as the Grim Reaper, then reaches out with his scythe to gently depress the Fictitious Big Red Button that starts everything up. For the next twenty years, the scientists take turns using up the remaining Polaroid stock in the world taking photos of themselves as Death romping about the LHC, then sending them, one a day, to the various people who have written them stupid letters, with "YOU WERE WRONG" scrawled across it in glittery pink paintpen. Maybe an occasional naked Maypole dance around a large thrusting monument inscribed with the names of every idiot protester who hassled them. These are things I contemplate, in between thoughts of "it would be nice if we found a monopole or two" and "really, really, really big magnet."

However, I loathe the early responses from scientists on why nothing would happen. "Even if we did create a black hole, it would evaporate via Hawking radiation almost instantly." Such a horrible way of placating people, especially since Hawking radiation has yet to be observed. It's theoretical. It hasn't been demonstrated. I've even glanced at papers from some reputable scientists who think that Hawking radiation might be forbidden (I think it was Seth Lloyd, not sure though). Yes, the RHIC did make a nice fireball in 2005. Let's reproduce and make sure that it was a black hole with Hawking radiation before we break our arms patting ourselves on the back that we've proven something.

Telling people that they are foolish because a mechanism yet to be observed will save them is just a bad tack and smacks of the ivory tower.

I much prefer the "if we did make a teensy black hole, its cross-section would be so small that it could not consume so much as a dust mite's worth of matter before the Sun burns out" or "it will have such a probable velocity compared to the Earth that it will sail off into space" or "we already have this sort of thing happen every so often in the form of a particularly energetic cosmic ray" or "we're not going to restart the false vacuum." Those are reasonable, but it seems like these reasons spent a while showing up.

I would cheerfully fund something as stupid as hurling strangelets through the degenerate matter crust of a neutron star into the baryon-rich core, just to, you know, produce the kind of reaction that would probably wipe out all life in a good chunk of a spiral arm, but don't make up something facile and try to pass it off on me.
posted by adipocere at 5:00 AM on September 9, 2008 [10 favorites]


boom!
posted by casarkos at 5:02 AM on September 9, 2008


The World Ends Tomorrow And You May Die!
posted by Kinbote at 5:06 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Because I really need SOMETHING ELSE to be paranoid about. Goddamnit.
posted by sperose at 5:07 AM on September 9, 2008


God save us all.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:10 AM on September 9, 2008


Footnote 28 to the Wikipedia article about the safety of the LHC is a thoughtful - hopeful, actually - look at the possibility of creating mini black holes in particle colliders: The case for mini black holes. All very safe according to current models, say the authors, but it seems clear that the idea of a particle collider being used to create micro black holes isn't in itself anti-scientific lunacy.
posted by mediareport at 5:10 AM on September 9, 2008


I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention the juvenile glee my dyslexic mind wallows in whenever I accidentally read the name as "The Large Hard-on Collider."
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:11 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Large Hadron Collider Switch-on Fears Are Completely Unfounded
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:20 AM on September 9, 2008


I understand this stuff about as well as a dog understands the principles of the internal combustion engine, but the methodology always seems suspect. It appears from my lowly view that some fancy mathematician comes up with some conceivable entity like the Higgs which involves some really macho, esoteric new concepts and makes an achingly elegant addition to the current theory. Then somebody fires up the old cyclotron (hey, ours is bigger than yours!), they make millions of observations, they come up with one which the magic circle of initiates believe is consistent with the Higgs being there, and the whole caboodle is thereby seen to be scientifically proved.

Well, woof.
posted by Phanx at 5:20 AM on September 9, 2008


"Faith-based" science is about as oxymoronic as you can get.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 5:24 AM on September 9, 2008


Can you imagine accidentally creating a black hole that swallowed the earth? If such a thing happened, I'd certainly feel more competent at my own job.

"Faith-based" science is about as oxymoronic as you can get.
Does secular humanism or transhumanism count as a faith? Maybe Raelism?
posted by giraffe at 5:36 AM on September 9, 2008


Hey, your science is ruining my religion!
posted by a3matrix at 5:42 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ok not to sound like a video game geek but didn't Doom have one of these in it? (yeah yeah I know there is nothing scientific about Doom.) At any rate I hope the LHC makes zombies.... me/ racks 12 gauge!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:42 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stoopid Hadrons, always bumping into each other.
posted by surfdad at 5:45 AM on September 9, 2008


TIME FOR GROUP HUG.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:51 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


This morning I accidentally prayed that God destroy the world because I wanted to sleep in instead of getting up and doing the morning commute. Now I have my regrets.
posted by smackwich at 5:53 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bye everyone, and if there is a girl around here in Montreal and who wants to have some last fun hours, leave me a message.

And, here's the way I work....
posted by mattoxic at 6:01 AM on September 9, 2008


Really, I don't think we have anything to worry about. We're going to be perfectly fine.
posted by WCityMike at 6:02 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


A good ten years or so ago I was stoned out of my gourd and flipping through the radio late at night. Wouldn't you know it, I happened to catch one of Art Bell's scare shows about CERN. I remember catching the fear vibe right away but not understanding just what was being discussed for a good half hour or so.

I imagine that's how a lot of religious people relate to this - it's very scary but you're not really sure why or what's going on. Like a dog in a thunderstorm.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:03 AM on September 9, 2008 [15 favorites]


The webcast they're running at this very moment comes across like some terrifying prequel to an apocalyptic anime series. Not. Helping.

If something comes through, what happens then?
posted by saturnine at 6:04 AM on September 9, 2008


"Oh my god, I lost an electron" said the atom.

"Are you sure?"

"I'm positive!"


Okay, go ahead, you can kill me now..
posted by DreamerFi at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2008 [16 favorites]


> way ahead of you malevolent

Could I have an RSS feed? ;-)
posted by WCityMike at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2008


I really don't get any of this phsyics-y stuff, which I'm okay with, but it means that I'm really just rooting for the end of the human race in some dramatic fashion. My choice is basically between spending a couple of days reading so that I get what the hell this is for, or spending a couple of days fantasizing about how fucking cool it would be to open a portal directly to Hell or destroying the universe or something.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:09 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


To me, this is like getting to see men walk on the moon.

Except that the moon is far away, whereas these things are very small.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:10 AM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


they make millions of observations, they come up with one which the magic circle of initiates believe is consistent with the Higgs being there extremely specific, precise predictions made by the theory.
posted by DU at 6:13 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped.
Look at that low playing! Fine, then.
Uh oh, overflow, population, common food, but it'll do.
Save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and the revered and the right, right.
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:20 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Some cool pictures of The Devil's Hot Wheels Track before it done blows itself up and sends us to Glory.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:26 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


This blog post from Scott Adams succinctly sums up my problems with the LHC. I hate to cite Scott Adams in an argument, but Dilbert *was* funny once upon a time, so maybe he still has something to say.

Assuming the chances of something "bad" happening are extremely small, but not zero, what is the threshold of "acceptable" risk? I saw a quote from a scientist the other day that the chances of the LHC producing a pink elephant weren't zero either, but even if you told me the chances of the LHC producing a pink elephant were 90% I still wouldn't be concerned because pink elephants don't destroy the world. The problem isn't that the chances of something bad happening are low, the problem is that the consequences of something bad happening are essentially infinitely bad.
posted by Reverend John at 6:28 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"way ahead of you malevolent"

Nice one, I was hoping someone would do it.
(You could actually do an RSS feed containing a daily negative-yet-doubtful phrase - 'Not yet', 'No, as far as we can tell', 'I doubt it', 'We seem to be safe so far', etc.)
posted by malevolent at 6:30 AM on September 9, 2008


Joey Michaels, my recollection is that On Golden Pond was still in the theaters when I saw On Golden Blonde on a marquee. I bet porn producers everywhere are rushing to be first with the Large Hard-On Collider title. They are probably in meetings right now working on particle-name puns for the actors' names.
posted by Killick at 6:36 AM on September 9, 2008


Reverend John: regardless of whether Scott Adams was or wasn't ever funny, all he's doing there is rehashing the standard approach to risk management that any project manager knows like the back of his or her hand: a simple matrix of likelihood v impact.

The punchline wasn't bad, though:

If the lawsuit succeeds, imagine trying to get another job with that project failure on your resume.

Interviewer: “So, you spent $8 billion dollars trying to build a machine that would either discover something cool or destroy the universe. Is it fair to say you are not a people person?”

posted by UbuRoivas at 6:38 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've got one of these. Does that count?
posted by netbros at 6:41 AM on September 9, 2008


...the methodology always seems suspect. It appears from my lowly view that some fancy mathematician comes up with some conceivable entity like the Higgs which involves some really macho, esoteric new concepts and makes an achingly elegant addition to the current theory. Then somebody fires up the old cyclotron (hey, ours is bigger than yours!), they make millions of observations, they come up with one which the magic circle of initiates believe is consistent with the Higgs being there...

the higgs is the last fundamental particle predicted by the standard model that has yet to be observed. i wouldn't call it esoteric -- it's part of the most successful physical theory of the last few decades. not discovering the higgs would be to me almost more interesting, because it would suggest new, "esoteric" physics.

also, if scientists really wanted to bullshit it into existence as you suggest they could have done so at fermilab long ago.
posted by alk at 6:42 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've just arrived at CERN for the turn-on events tomorrow.

Gosh, it would be fantastic if I could use this one-off opportunity to publicise my online documentary project following a team of physicists trying to find the Higgs at the LHC by posting a link to the projects website. Alas, I cannot self-link, and the project must remain hidden away in my profile... *cough* Perhaps some kind soul will find the project interesting enough to post themselves... *cough*

(please forgive the crude hints, but I've been working bloody hard on this project and this is my one and only opportunity to publicise it. Hope I'm not breaking any rules here).
posted by gravelshoes at 6:46 AM on September 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


gravelshoes.
posted by Shepherd at 6:50 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


gravelshoes - self-links in threads, especially for something that cool and on-topic, are totally fine. Also, projects is meant to be for be people to post their own projects, so post away.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:50 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The problem isn't that the chances of something bad happening are low

I took a statistical mechanics course where the professor estimated the odds that in your lifetime the random vibrations of the molecules in a rock would somehow all line up at some instant so that the rock jumped up off the ground and hit you on the chin. When he finished the calculation, his conclusion was that if that happened you weren't just unlucky -- you had been damned by God.
posted by Killick at 6:52 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Alas, I cannot self-link, and the project must remain hidden away in my profile...

You're allowed to self-link in comments. But acting like you can't is more fun.
posted by Stynxno at 6:52 AM on September 9, 2008


alas, i cannot self-link my amateur porn.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:54 AM on September 9, 2008


The webcast they're running at this very moment comes across like some terrifying prequel to an apocalyptic anime series. Not. Helping.

Link? The only one I can find is some dude doing the 'Testing, 1, 2, 3' thing in French.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:54 AM on September 9, 2008


The only one I can find is some dude doing the 'Testing, 1, 2, 3' thing in French.

hey, in the south pacific that usually means an atomic bomb is about to go off.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:57 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


There's a federal appeals court judge in the Seventh Circuit named Posner who is well-known for using economic and mathematical measurements of risk as a method of deciding cases involving potential risk. He teaches at U of C and seems to never have met a risk undertaken by a developer that he couldn't justify.

But he is utterly opposed to the LHC. No matter how improbable, the outcome of everyone getting destroyed is too risky, he thinks. Here's hoping he's wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:03 AM on September 9, 2008


dmd: What does "oh shit bears" mean in your site's code? Aside from the obvious interpretation, of course.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2008


Wow, I found this cool video about a team of physicists involved in search for the Higgins Boson. Someone call TJ!
posted by joecacti at 7:10 AM on September 9, 2008


Bring on the Resonance Cascade! And the headcrabs.
posted by sourwookie at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


No matter how improbable, the outcome of everyone getting destroyed is too risky, he thinks.

It's amazing he's able to function. After all, at any given moment the probability that he will spontaneously turn into a galaxy-destroying superweapon is nonzero.
posted by aramaic at 7:13 AM on September 9, 2008


the outcome of everyone getting destroyed is too risky

See, I don't understand this. If everyone gets destroyed--that's fucking awesome. I'm not trying to be flip. I genuinely don't see how this could be a problem. It's not as if there will be suffering, or even inconvenience. There's just nothing. That's awesome.

And if everyone is not destroyed, maybe we learn something cool. That's win-win.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:13 AM on September 9, 2008


Great find, joecacti!
posted by gravelshoes at 7:20 AM on September 9, 2008


"the problem is that the consequences of something bad happening are essentially infinitely bad."

These same sorts of bad things can happen whether we build the LHC or not. If high energy particle collisions can destroy the earth, we already have those happening all the time. The LHC doesn't do anything that isn't already being done.
posted by Ragma at 7:27 AM on September 9, 2008


There's a federal appeals court judge in the Seventh Circuit named Posner who is well-known for using economic and mathematical measurements of risk as a method of deciding cases involving potential risk. He teaches at U of C and seems to never have met a risk undertaken by a developer that he couldn't justify.

But he is utterly opposed to the LHC. No matter how improbable, the outcome of everyone getting destroyed is too risky, he thinks.


That's a distortion of Posner's argument. Posner's view is that scientific experiments that pose potential catastrophic risks should be submitted for prior approval by an independent review board, on the theory that scientists get too caught up in their own work to make objective assessments of whether the risks of a project are acceptable to society as weighed against the benefits. He is not "utterly opposed" to the LHC or any other type of research.
posted by brain_drain at 7:27 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


hm, so self linking is allowed in the comments - maybe I'll just spam this thread to death!

Colliding Particles
an online documentary project which will follow a team of physicists hunting the higgs at the LHC for the next couple of years. Watch the first episode and sign up at the website.

Hurrah!

(sorry - I'm sitting in a Swiss motel waiting for my sound recordist to arrive and bored. I will spam no more).
posted by gravelshoes at 7:31 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


So Long, and Thanks for all the Photons
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:32 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Before they turn it on, I just want to say, in case we don't make it to the other side... I love you guys.

*holds breath*




*passes out*
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 7:32 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The problem isn't that the chances of something bad happening are low, the problem is that the consequences of something bad happening are essentially infinitely bad.

From an individual standpoint, this type of thinking would lead to total paralysis. Flying in a plane, driving a car, crossing the street, eating food at a restaurant -- all of these activities increase your risk of death by some small degree. Should I not eat sushi because it marginally increases the chances that my existence will end prematurely?
posted by brain_drain at 7:32 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


"If you put them on CDs and stacked them up, that stack would be more than 12 miles (20 kilometers) tall."

Well then don't do that.

they will generate 15 million gigabytes of data

Or, with uncompressed 4:4:4 high definition video and a 10 to 1 shooting ratio you could make a single feature length film.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:33 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry, the first sentence in my prior comment is a quote that should have been in italics.
posted by brain_drain at 7:33 AM on September 9, 2008


gravelshoes already posted his project - go vote for it.
posted by zarah at 7:36 AM on September 9, 2008


I've just arrived at CERN for the turn-on events tomorrow.

Dear Penthouse,
I've never been as turned on as I was just before the universe was turned off.
posted by lukemeister at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've been to CERN, seen the LHC, walked through the corridors, meandered through the computer center, and I can say confidently that it has already destroyed the universe, and we're just remembering what it was like to be alive.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:40 AM on September 9, 2008


(lukemeister missed an opp:)

Dear Penthouse,
I've just arrived at CERN for the turn-on events at the Large Hardon Collider tomorrow...
posted by Tubes at 7:48 AM on September 9, 2008


Tubes,

Yeah, I'm clearly an amateur in this genre :-)
posted by lukemeister at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2008


If the worlds ends, I'm not coming into work Thursday.
posted by chillmost at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Remember Black Mesa!
posted by unsupervised at 7:55 AM on September 9, 2008


Yeah, I'm carrying a crowbar tomorrow, just to be on the safe side.
posted by EarBucket at 8:06 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The reason people think this is going to end the world is because of that stupid book, Angels and Demons, by the author of the Da Vinci Code. In it, someone steals some anti-matter and threatens to blow up Vatican City. The plot is about as well thought out as the Da Vinci Code . . . there's Jesus, mysterious religious cults, sex, and of course the potential apocalypse. Everything a death-threatening moron wants in a light read.
posted by zekinskia at 8:12 AM on September 9, 2008


and yes, I read the stupid book. My Grandma gave it to me, I felt obligated, okay?
posted by zekinskia at 8:12 AM on September 9, 2008


chuckdarwin: Terrified of nothing, a few deeply misguided morons have sent death threats to the CERN team...

You fools! Are you terrified of NOTHING? Do not anger the scientists, lest they turn their powerful atomic laser-beam deathray wizardry upon US!
posted by koeselitz at 8:14 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was looking at the pictures of the LHC and I felt there was something uncanny about them. Then I realized it was the workers scuttling about, welding things and so on. I was expecting to see scientists (in white coats, naturally) working on these devices, not workers.

Then it occurred to me that it looked like something out of a James Bond movie: the workers are busy building some sort of a doomsday device, while the evil scientist is upstairs, cooking up devious plans. Any second now, however, he will see Bond snooping around (there are security cameras installed all over the place and there's a wall of TV screens in the evil scientist's lab), catch him and strap him in the unfinished device. "Why did you put me here? Do you expect me to find the Higgs boson?" - "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to collapse into a miniature black hole!". You know the rest of it.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:30 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I still remember when we were going to build the Super-Collider down in Texas. I wonder if those tunnels still exist.
Goodbye princeton
Goodbye CERN
He's gone to Texas
To watch the holy fire burn

posted by nomisxid at 8:31 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


gravelshoes, I'm jealous!
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:31 AM on September 9, 2008


Large Hadron Collider too small, say experts

Controversy broke out in the scientific world today, with rival experts shooting opposing arguments out of their mouths at 99.99999% of the speed of light and around a circular path the size of Provence only to smash into one another and be annihilated in a fit of short-lived pique.

The debate began when the Large Hadron Collider was switched on and failed utterly to destroy Earth in a black-hole apocalypse.

"It's too damn small!" said a grey-haired poindexter, nervously chewing on a pencil. "We need at least one funfilillion more pascal-pints of energy!"

It has emerged that the world's scientists will never cease their infernal calculations until humanity is annihilated in an implosion of quark-plasma goo. These lab-coated lay-abouts wish only to take revenge on a world that spurned their romantic advances, that laughed at their spectacles, and that always respected the pigskin juggling of numbskulled jocks above their Fields Medals and other official trinkets.

As a result, the Global Academy of Nerds, Geeks and Dorks ("GANG-D") has called for the Large Hadron Collider to be made even larger, and to collide bigger particles. "We desperately need an Extremely Large Molecule Collider to replace this failed instrument," said Big Chief Four-Eyes. "Then we can peer into the conditions of the big bang itself, rather than the conditions of four nano-micro-milliseconds after the big bang itself, and finally we will kill you all, you jerks."

GANG-D admit that the very, very big collider they covet would require a whole new quasi-scientific lexicon even to contemplate. Every perajoule would be bigged up into a gigantametre and multiplied by a humungogram, which would then be squared. No - hypersquared. And then they'd add 2 to that number, and maybe a couple of quadra-super-volts. The super-duper collider would also need to be the size of Kazakhstan plus the weight of Belgium, multiplied by the volume of Brazil. And it would have to be fucking silver, with, like, red speed lines and shit. And you know what? I really, really, really need a girlfriend.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:37 AM on September 9, 2008 [15 favorites]


For the good of all of us, except the ones who are...
posted by elfgirl at 8:39 AM on September 9, 2008


Are you terrified of NOTHING?

Ha! Poor wording on my part.

"Terrified of the boogeyman, a few deeply misguided morons have sent death threats to the CERN team..."
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2008


I swear that the CERN public info video on their webcast is a cutscene from the original Command and Conquer.
posted by zippy at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2008


Brothers and Sisters of the Post Hadronic Church, let us join hands, and celebrate the Irony of Faith. Let us remember the Birth of God, for in that same Day which saw the Disproof of Faith up to that time its Validation thence forward.

For that Day, when that Switch was finally flipped, saw the Faith of the Fanatics destroyed. Lo - and the world did NOT end; and lo - what they hoped might be the End Times were seen as Just the Beginning; and lo - so Great was that change there could be no doubt that their Belief UNTIL that day had been the worship of Shadows and Dreams, cast sharp and clear in the Light of that Day.

For when that Sacred Switch was thrown, and black holes grew pregnant with blacker holes, and the Universe came to know itself for itself - in that day, as you all know and can now be Proven Empirically, was God created.

Can the Universe made self-aware and self-affecting be known by any other name? Of course not. Do not the shifting colors of the sky, the new ordering of the stars and trees and Humanity among them not make "faith" and "doubt" as obsolete as implements of stone and sinew? We have left those toys of childhood behind, for we can Speak to God since the day of the Hadron Creation, and it will answer in simple language. All things are possible to it, and we have seen this demonstrated every day since the Day of the Collider.

And in a way, does this not render the Faith of previous ages at once misguided and prescient? For in a Universe which now knows itself, can we doubt there could ever be another way? That their faith was not Wrong, but merely Early? Precocious? Were they simply not waiting for a God to create Itself, and been proved right in that earnest anticipation by the very Science used as the Vessel for their Disillusionment?
posted by freebird at 8:48 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It can't be the end of the world, because I don't feel fine.
posted by amyms at 8:51 AM on September 9, 2008


are you afraid?
posted by watercarrier at 8:54 AM on September 9, 2008


See, I don't understand this. If everyone gets destroyed--that's fucking awesome. I'm not trying to be flip. I genuinely don't see how this could be a problem. It's not as if there will be suffering, or even inconvenience. There's just nothing. That's awesome.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:13 AM on September 9


The problem isn't that the chances of something bad happening are low, the problem is that the consequences of something bad happening are essentially infinitely bad.
posted by Reverend John at 6:28 AM on September 9

From an individual standpoint, this type of thinking would lead to total paralysis. Flying in a plane, driving a car, crossing the street, eating food at a restaurant -- all of these activities increase your risk of death by some small degree. Should I not eat sushi because it marginally increases the chances that my existence will end prematurely?
posted by brain_drain at 7:32 AM on September 9


From an individual standpoint, you are going to die eventually anyway, and while the potential loss is indeterminate it isn't infinite. Furthermore, I like many other people take some comfort from the idea that the human race will live on after us, even though we and those who are close to us will die. The death of all humanity is essentially an infinite loss, while my own death, while tragic to me, isn't in the same league.

Its seriously not awesome if you *like* parts of the world outside yourself and would be upset by their destruction.
posted by Reverend John at 8:54 AM on September 9, 2008


Stephen Hawking's £50 bet on the world, the universe and the God particle

I'm hoping the the good professor wins his bet and spends the money on something suitably silly.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:56 AM on September 9, 2008


Land Of Big Science: The Large Hadron Collider is a symptom of America's decline in particle physics and, some fear, in science overall.
posted by homunculus at 9:03 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Then this would disprove the Mayan calender - but would give credence to the Jewish one where the world is created in the month of Tishrei - coming up in a few weeks. Makes sense seeing how destruction would not be instantaneous but would be continuous over a certain period of time.

How interesting if this pans out to be. Created by God, destroyed by man, but with the affirmation of God, for nothing happens without His willing it to.
posted by watercarrier at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2008


Dadgummit—a feller can hardly hear himself think, what with all the whistling past the graveyard in this thread!
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2008


While recent studies have disproved the doomsday scenario, CERN scientists have reportedly received death threats and pleas to stop the experiment.

Scientists responded: Mother fucker, I collide particles and recreate big bangs for a living, you think your rookie threat shit scares me? You wanna play? I got some protons accelerated to damn near the speed of light, you wanna taste of that, bitch? Yeah, that's what I thought, run on home. Run back to your mama.
posted by quin at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


“In my dreams, I see the two of us alone in my golden submarine, while up above the waves my doomsday squad ignites the atmosphere.” - WW/JC
posted by blue_beetle at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2008


Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:27 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hope they have pancakes for our new guests from another dimension. Then come the weirdos.
posted by Flex1970 at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2008


Frankly, if the history of scientific discovery is any indication, they're going about this all wrong.

1. TRY to destroy the universe.
2. Discover Higgs boson by accident.
3. ...
4. Application!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:48 AM on September 9, 2008


Hey! Did anyone else have just see a pink elephant crooning Def Leppard tunes and accompanying itself on a Wurlitzer organ?
posted by Mister_A at 9:51 AM on September 9, 2008


Wait, "in a scant few hours"? The website says this happens on 10 September.

Please tell me exactly when I should put on/take off the tinfoil hat?!?!
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:51 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Such a horrible way of placating people, especially since Hawking radiation has yet to be observed. It's theoretical. It hasn't been demonstrated.
I dunno. Seems pretty appropriate given that the LHC creating a black hole is "yet to be observed," theoretical & hasn't been demonstrated.
posted by juv3nal at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


From an individual standpoint, you are going to die eventually anyway, and while the potential loss is indeterminate it isn't infinite.

From a collective standpoint, everyone is going to die eventually anyway, so this point doesn't really help.

The death of all humanity is essentially an infinite loss, while my own death, while tragic to me, isn't in the same league.

Why is it infinite? The universe is a lot bigger than our planet. At worst, you're talking about a loss that is ~6B times bigger than the loss of my own life. That's big, but it's finite.

Here's another way to look at it. What if you could do an experiment that had (i) a 50% chance of producing a solution to global disease and poverty, and (ii) a 0.00001% chance of blowing up the planet. Setting aside unintended consequences (Malthusian nightmare, etc.), wouldn't that experiment be worth doing? If you really believe the risk of planetary destruction is "infinite," then the answer is "no." But a more rational cost-benefit analysis would produce an answer of "yes." It's the same reasoning that underlies an individual's daily decision-making, but on a global scale.
posted by brain_drain at 10:03 AM on September 9, 2008


Isn' t today 9 September? The magic moment is in about 15 hours, I think.
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:05 AM on September 9, 2008


I'd like it if they stopped calling them 'mini black holes' and started calling them 'fun-size black holes'.
posted by Summer at 10:12 AM on September 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


Didn't the game Half Life begin with a super scientific experiment gone awry?

brb- grabbing crowbar
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:20 AM on September 9, 2008


'fun-size black holes'.

Or 'Singularity Snackables'
posted by quin at 10:21 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this the part where we see a grainy video of Tom Cruise with an explosive jacket strapped to his chest sabotage the machine?

At which point the we cut to the live feed of Stephen Hawking floating in the ISS:

"First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price? Only, this one can be kept secret. Controlled by Americans, built by the Japanese subcontractors. Who, also, happen to be, recently acquired, wholly-owned subsidiaries... of GOOGLE!"
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


But, the web came from the same place as LHC.

The way I see it, they gave me my life and now they're taking it away. Fair enough, I'd say.
posted by phax at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Galactic Glory Holes
posted by Pendragon at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2008


In the video presentation I linked to above, Jonathan Ellis, one of the scientists that was tasked with exploring the concerns of some people about various dangerous side effects of running the LHC, used part of the presentation to show the various websites and blogs that treated the LHC in an alarmist manner and the slide was marked 'caught in our own web!'
See, scientist actually have a sense of humour! See, see?

(Actually you should all watch the presentation, it's really not extremely boring, I promise)
posted by Catfry at 10:54 AM on September 9, 2008


i'm just sad that all my crazy luddite, tree-spiking pals don't use the internets. they would have a field day with this one. and ted? what about ted? shouldn't somebody get to interview kaczynski on how he feels about this?

ah ted, he would have saved us all...
posted by artof.mulata at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2008


Large Hardon Collider would be a great name for a club.

Or film, for that matter.
posted by SaintCynr at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2008


Are we dead, yet?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2008


27 kilometers of tunnel underground,
Designed with mind to send protons around,
A circle that crosses through Switzerland and France
60 nations contribute to scientific advance.

LHCb sees where the antimatter's gone
Alice looks at collisions of lead ions
CMS and Atlas, are two of kind
They're looking for whatever new particles they can find...

From here, yesterday: The Large Hadron Collider Rap, video number one in Turtles All The Way Down's great post yesterday...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:44 AM on September 9, 2008


Doh! Sorry -- linked to my own comment. This is the top of the thread and this is the site where the videos are hosted.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:47 AM on September 9, 2008


gravelshoes, your documentary is PRETTY!! and the sound is pretty, too! You catch wonderful nerdy expressions very well.
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:58 AM on September 9, 2008


"...Freemasons, scientists, same thing..." (SLYT)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:19 PM on September 9, 2008


“they will generate 15 million gigabytes of data every year, that is equivalent to one thousand times the information printed in the form of books annually.”

Aww...that’s pretty good.
I guess.
*scoffs*

“The verification of the existence of the Higgs boson would be a significant step in the search for a Grand Unified Theory, which seeks to unif” - yeah, yeah, yeah. Knowing the origin of the universe is pretty good, ok? Whatever. Do your thing. Win awards.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2008


funny comment from reddit:

"They're waiting for you, Gordon. In the Test Chamber."
posted by plexi at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


The History Channel is showing a special tonight on the LHC. I expect lots of product placement and maybe a mention of Hitler.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:51 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't be fooled by the hype. They're not turning the thing up all the way until October. That's when to start worrying.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:51 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think Lexx covered this.

Lexx wasn't always entirely scientifically accurate. There's no mention of D:Ream, for instance.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:14 PM on September 9, 2008


The Fermi paradox requires an explanation. Perhaps this is it.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:14 PM on September 9, 2008


Are we dead, yet? Heh.

Stephen Hawking: "Great. The entire universe was destroyed."

Fry: "Destroyed? Then where are we now?"

Al Gore: "I don't know. But I can darn well tell you where we're not: The universe!"
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:15 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't see what the problem is. Why not just start it up on the Low setting, let it warm up for a bit, and then turn it up one notch every couple-or-so minutes? If you see a black hole starting to form, quick turn the knob back down to zero—crisis averted! Then simply hose out the tunnel, maybe scrub down the walls with some nice hot soapy water, just to be on the safe side (wouldn't want to leave any stray strangelets laying about), turn out the lights, and call it a day!
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:24 PM on September 9, 2008


...pascal-pints of energy!

Bonus geek cred for picking a fake-sounding unit which actually is a legitimate measure of energy. Nicely done.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the Grace of God - thanks. I'm a total nerd-magnet.
posted by gravelshoes at 1:47 PM on September 9, 2008


JOHN FREEMAN who was Gordon Freemans brother
was one day in an office typing on a computer. He got
an email from his brother that said that aliens and monsters
were attacking his place and aksed him for help so
he went.

John Freeman got his computer shut down and wet
on the platform to go up to the roof of the building where
he left his motorcycle and normal people close because
he was in his office lab coat John Freeman got on his
motorcycl and said “its time for me to live up to my family
name and face full life consequences” so he had to go.
John Freeman ramped off the building and did a
backflip and landed. He kept driving down the road and
made sure there was no zombies around because he
ddint have weapon.

The contrysides were nice and the plants were singing
and the birds and the sun was almost down from the top
of the sky. the mood was set for John Freemans quest
to help his brother where he was. John Freeman looked
around the countrysides and said “its a good day to do
what has to be done by me and help my brother to defeat
the enemys”.

John Freeman was late so he had to drive really fast.
A cop car was hiden near by so when John Freeman went
by the cops came and wanted to give him a ticket. Here
John Freeman saw the first monster because the cop was
posessed and had headcrabs.

“I cant give you my lisense officer” John Freeman said

“Why not?” said the headcrab oficer back to John
Freeman.

“Because you are headcrab zombie” so John Freeman
shot the oficer in the head and drove off thinking “my
brother is in trouble there” and went faster.

John Freeman had to go faster like the speed of
sound and got there fast because Gordon needed him
where he was. John Freeman looked at road signs and
saw “Ravenholm” with someons writing under it saying
“u shudnt come here” so John Freeman almost turned
around but heard screaming like Gordon so he went
faster again.

John Freeman drove in and did another flip n jumped
off his motorbike and the motor bike took out some headcrab
zombies infront of John Freeman. John Freeman
smiled and walked fast. John Freeman then looked on
the ground and found wepon so he pickd it up and fired
fast at zombie goasts in front of a house.

John Freeman said “Zombie goasts leave this place”
and the zombie goasts said “but this is our house” and
John Freeman felt sorry for them becaus they couldnt
live there anymore because they were zombie goasts so
he blew up the house and killed the zombie goasts so
they were at piece.

Then John Freeman herd another scream from his
brother so he kept walking really faster to get where
he was. Ravenholdm was nothing like the countrysides
there was no birds singing and the pants were dead and
teh dirt was messy and bloody from headcrabs.

When John Freeman got to where the screaming
was started from he found his brother Gorden Freeman
fightin the final bosss and Gordon said “John Freeman!
Over here!” so John Freeman went there to where Gordon
Freeman was fighting. John Freeman fired his bullet
from teh gun really fast and the bullets went and shot
the final boss in the eyes and the final boss couldnt see.
Gordon Freeman said “its time to end this ones and
for all!” and punched the final boss in the face and the
final boss fell. John Freeman said “thanks i could help,
bro” and Gordon Freeman said “you should come here
earlier next time” and they laughed.

The laughed overed quickly though because John
Freeman yelled “LOOK OUT BRO!” and pointed up to
the top of the sky. Gordon Freeman looked up and said
“NOO! John Freeman run out of here fast as you can!”
and John Freeman walked real fast out.

John Freeman loked back and saw Gordon get steppd
on by the next boss and he was mad and angry.
“I’ll get you back evil boss!” John Freeman yelled at
the top of lungs.

to be continued..?

(http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1047027/squirrelking)
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:25 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


We're science: we're all about coulda, not shoulda.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:04 PM on September 9, 2008


Credit would be good: that was taken from Patton Oswalt, talking about geriatric moms.

So, is anyone going to set up hastthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com or not?
posted by Pronoiac at 4:08 PM on September 9, 2008


turgid dahlia, don't miss the video.
posted by brain_drain at 4:21 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


brain_drain, I was gonna link that too but can't do it here at work. But yes, everybody else should check it out because the voiceover and animation - "BECAUSE YOU ARE HEADCRAB ZOMBIE" - amplify the hilarity exponentially.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:56 PM on September 9, 2008


Isn' t today 9 September? The magic moment is in about 15 hours, I think.

i don't mean to poop on everybody's pre-apocalypse party, but.. the commissioning schedule is here. it's not like you just flip a switch!

tomorrow is when they start injecting protons and try to get them all the way around the circumference of the ring. stored beam at low energy within a week. collisions at low energy within two weeks. then ramp tests, turning on the detector magnets, orbit corrections, etc.

point is, collisions at energies never seen before won't happen for another month at least, so, the sky ain't fallin yet.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 7:08 PM on September 9, 2008


A slip of the keys produces a magnificent mental image: Large Hardon Collider
posted by EnjoyBed at 7:39 PM on September 9, 2008


Seriously though, should we even be doing this when we don't even know about hypervelocity monkey collisions?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:05 PM on September 9, 2008


Have they switched on the collider yet? I've got a quiz tomorrow and I'm still not sure if I'm dead.
posted by tehloki at 11:42 PM on September 9, 2008


From http://www.virginmedia.com/digital/science/largehadroncollider.php

"Martin Rees, a physicist, has estimated the chance of an accelerator producing a global catastrophe at one in 50 million which is about the same odds as winning some lotteries."

Too high for my taste.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 11:58 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Uh, http://www.virginmedia.com/digital/science/largehadroncollider.php

Also, Martin Rees is a bit more than just "a physicist"
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 12:00 AM on September 10, 2008


point is, collisions at energies never seen before won't happen for another month at least, so, the sky ain't fallin yet. - sergeant sandwich

Geeee ... that *was* a poop on the party!


Wait a minute ... six to eight weeks ... this must be just another election thingy!
posted by Surfurrus at 12:07 AM on September 10, 2008


Hmmm... still here.
posted by Elmore at 12:39 AM on September 10, 2008


Oh, I just listened to BBC-4's 'real time' broadcast. Ahhhhhhh ... champagne!


... if the end is going to come, I have to admit, I rather do like hearing British commentary on the way out.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:42 AM on September 10, 2008


CERN on Twitter.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:16 AM on September 10, 2008


Dammit where is the wave of nothingness propagating at the speed of light that I was promised? What a let-down. Also, it turns out that these so-called Large Hadrons are actually fucking tiny.
posted by Mocata at 1:26 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Akin to hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com, hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com. (it's big on Twitter)
posted by Korou at 1:37 AM on September 10, 2008


Freeman is in place... everything's gonna be fine...just fine...
posted by From Bklyn at 1:45 AM on September 10, 2008


I am two days too late for an "I don't even know 'er!" joke, aren't I?
posted by Shepherd at 2:13 AM on September 10, 2008


Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society: "My book has been misquoted in one or two places. I would refer you to the up-to-date safety study."

Another article by Rees.
posted by dirigibleman at 4:01 AM on September 10, 2008


It's on.
posted by WPW at 4:15 AM on September 10, 2008


The source for the second of those 'NOPE' websites is hilarious:
[script type="text/javascript"]
if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == "undefined")) {
document.write("YUP.");
} else {
document.write("NOPE.");
}
[/script]
posted by Happy Dave at 4:27 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


This was a triumph.
I'm making a note here:
HUGE SUCCESS.
It's hard to overstate
my satisfaction.
Aperture Science
We do what we must
because we can.
For the good of all of us.
Except the ones who are dead.
But there's no sense crying
over every mistake.
You just keep on trying
till you run out of cake.
And the Science gets done.
And you make a neat gun.
For the people who are
still alive.

posted by Elmore at 4:33 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


David Kestenbaum just gave hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com a shoutout on Morning Edition.
Audio here after 9AM ET.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:51 AM on September 10, 2008


Happy Dave, you left off the best part of the source:
[noscript]NOPE.[/noscript]
Save the world: turn off Javascript!
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 4:56 AM on September 10, 2008


If this has been posted already, I haven't seen it: Hand-held video of the "hooray" moment at the LHC today as they first circulated a beam.

If you're browing around YouTube to find more video, beware that there are at least a couple of RickRolls disguised as LHC commissioning video.
posted by sdodd at 6:13 AM on September 10, 2008


Re: Black Mesa, Gordon Freeman.

Terrible news:
posted by ersatz at 7:23 AM on September 10, 2008


[Quote:]
There's just one snag with all that - it's cobblers. All the good, interesting stuff from the LHC - the Higgs deiton, the dark matter, the possibly planet-gobbling black hole dimensional portal threat and/or universe-buster runaway strangelet or monopole soup plagues, dessert topping apocalypses etc - none of that's on offer today. All of these excellent possibilities require the LHC boffins to actually collide some hadrons - well, duh. The clue's in the name. But they aren't ready for that yet.

What's happening today is the inaugural, gentle bowling of some initial protons around the entire 27-km subterranean ultrachilled superconductor magno-track. That's your lot.

In coming months the underground Alpine boffinry chiefs, once happy that they have hadrons whipping round the big ring properly in one direction, will fire up the opposing stream going the other way.

Only then, once the two unprecedentedly puissant particle cannons are reliably ripping out clips of protons on full auto both clockwise and anticlockwise, will the real fun begin. Only then will the boffins begin to seriously meddle with the very fabric of the universe, as they possibly rashly cross the streams of the two colossal energy guns, ramming protons into one another at almost light speed. Thus far, we are told only that this will happen "by the end of the year".

Even then, it will be some little time more before nervous brainboxes actually turn the control known only* as "The Big Knob" right up, doubtless disregarding despairing warnings from their hunchbacked assistants with a cackle of insane laughter as they do so. Only then will the intensity of the LHC's criss-crossing proton or ion beams rise to previously unseen levels as the hurtling particles accelerate past the speeds previously achieved in earlier, lesser atom-smashers like the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

*To the guys on the Register boffinry desk, anyway.
posted by DreamerFi at 8:46 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


2nd beam successfully circulated
posted by Merik at 8:50 AM on September 10, 2008


This NY Times article has perhaps the greatest opening sentence in the history of science reporting:

BATAVIA, ILL. — Science rode a beam of subatomic particles and a river of champagne into the future on Wednesday.
posted by dsword at 9:03 AM on September 10, 2008


I can has strangelet?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holy god damn that's a lot of traffic.

Here's a view of one minute's traffic as visualized by gl_tail.
posted by dmd at 11:50 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


did they find the Higgs Boson yet?
posted by shmegegge at 12:08 PM on September 10, 2008


How about now?
posted by shmegegge at 12:08 PM on September 10, 2008


Indian Girl Kills Self Over "Big Bang" Fear

'A teenage girl in central India killed herself on Wednesday after being traumatized by media reports that a "Big Bang" experiment in Europe could bring about the end of the world, her father said.'
posted by lullaby at 2:30 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


LHC Webcam (not really)
posted by yeoz at 3:32 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, the LHC isn't going to take us out (well, um, not likely anyw....oh god....), but the Large Helical Device, built to research fusion-plasma confinement looks like it'd at least nix a couple of city blocks....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 3:57 PM on September 10, 2008


Have any of you seen any (detailed, technical) stories on the network engineering they're doing? A lot of the poorly written LHC coverage I've come across in the mainstream news media breathlessly extols the virtues of something called either "the grid" or "the cloud." The implication seems to be that there's some sort of parallel super-Internet that's been built as a part of the LHC experiment.

I know what "Grid Computing" is, and I know what is usually meant by network engineers referring to "the cloud." And from a technical standpoint, they're not different from the Internet. Aside from greater bandwidth and dedicated peering, is there anything genuinely different? Are they running something other than TCP/IP (or a hacked version thereof)?

It's just another research backbone, right?
posted by sdodd at 4:07 PM on September 10, 2008


*phew* - I'm glad the world didn't end before I could post my 3,000th comment on the blue!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:27 PM on September 10, 2008


Freeman is in place... everything's gonna be fine...just fine...

Uh oh.
posted by EarBucket at 5:08 PM on September 10, 2008



Freeman is in place... everything's gonna be fine...just fine...

Uh oh.


No worries (?). Reddit is on the case.
posted by juv3nal at 9:33 PM on September 10, 2008


The total lack of understanding in that article of grid computing or "the cloud" is just mind numbing. Just look at how often he says "the Grid" instead of "grid computing" (a server, topology and software design architecture) or any terminology that actually makes sense. I guess you can't expect too much from anyone paid to write about technology these days. All you do when you use Google Apps (one of their examples of "grid computing") is offloading some of the processing (or more likely just the storage) to another computer that still has to run somewhere in the physical world. Those machines are very often still in one physical location (although with HLC this won't exactly be the case, although most of them are in the farm right at the sight itself) - if that location is compromised, lost, etc. so is your data.

For something like office applications this makes almost no sense.

For HLC, they need this kind of computer system, but if I remember correctly it doesn't even use the public Internet, but rather a private set of leased lines. It certainly does not run on "the web" as they so carelessly put it. I very much doubt any of those "12 miles of CDs" are in HTML table or anything else that runs in a web browser.

While we're at it, why in God's name do journalists love those damn comparisons of storage capacity? We get it. It's a lot of data. No need for 5 different size comparisons, since anyone who knows how much storage capacity a CD or iPod actually has will be served by those comparisons, and lay people probably don't have any idea how much storage capacity those things have anyway.

Finally to end my pointless rant that no one will read, this system has nothing to do with personal computers. He links the HLC's server farm somehow to a magical system that will allow consumers to have "access to more power than currently exists in the Pentagon" with a shitty piece of crap computer.

Um. No. Consumers do not need that kind of power. Just ridiculous. Oh yeah, and they're going to ram that through some kind of browser interface? Good luck with that.

"The cloud" implies some kind of P2P system where the data is just "up there" - where everyone has all of it or some part of it. That's now what "the cloud" as currently design is. It's just your data sitting on someone else's computer. That is all.

I'm going to bed now.
posted by airways at 3:42 AM on September 11, 2008


I should have gone to bed earlier.

"...how much storage capacity a CD or iPod actually has will not be served by those comparisons..."

"That's not what "the cloud" as currently designed is."

posted by airways at 3:46 AM on September 11, 2008


airways, this Beowulf cluster is made from commodity PCs (though I think they've added a rackful of newer, smaller, faster machines since the photo was taken) and will fetch CMS data from the LHC over Internet2. I don't know how many groups at other universities are running similar installations; my guess is a couple hundred.

Highfield's Telegraph article isn't perfect, but it's not so far off as you think, either.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:49 AM on September 11, 2008


An IT person with a sense of humour is posting rather interesting entries to CERN's online logbook. Click the right arrow to read all of them.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:01 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


>way ahead of you malevolent

Congratulations, dmd! You were linked by Jonathan Coulton! We are indeed still alive.
posted by Caduceus at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2008


Okay, in an attempt to satisfy my curiosity, I searched a bit more and came across a handful of articles from ComputerWeekly reporting on the manufacturers and products chosen by CERN for the LHC's IT infrastructure. Reading between the lines (and ignoring the confused hyperbole), here's what I think CERN is doing:

They built a 10Gbit WAN. Their WAN also connects to the research backbone Internet2. They built a huge-ass compute cluster, or rather several of them spread among a dozen datacenters. They're also connecting to a couple hundred other clusters via an open grid initiative. And they've built several big storage arrays supporting the various experimental datasets.

So: crazy scale, but nothing terribly surprising. How journalists get from there to "the next Internet," I don't know.
posted by sdodd at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2008


These reptilian NWO'ers have their space stations ready to move to when the s*t hits the fan - they have no worries. This has all been in the planning for decades now since the inception of NASA. Shuttles have been very busy. They are ready to destroy all life - and they have no concerns about anyone since their biospheres are in place and their seed banks are well stocks. DNA databases and supply to create the *perfect race* are also within their clutches. It's only a matter of time now.
posted by watercarrier at 2:13 AM on September 12, 2008


Also do not trust the web - see who controls it and what their agenda would be. Disinformation abounds and well-placed *information* to distract and calm the masses are already ensconced.
posted by watercarrier at 2:16 AM on September 12, 2008


These reptilian NWO'ers have their space stations ready to move to when the s*t hits the fan - they have no worries. This has all been in the planning for decades now since the inception of NASA. Shuttles have been very busy. They are ready to destroy all life - and they have no concerns about anyone since their biospheres are in place and their seed banks are well stocks. DNA databases and supply to create the *perfect race* are also within their clutches. It's only a matter of time now.

I'll have whatever he's having (but only half a dose, please; it's early and I have to drive later).
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:25 AM on September 12, 2008


and the strewers of disinformation must discredit because that is their mode of doing their job. See also Mr. Smith. Well aware of your limited scope, but do you not actually possess a more creative way of spreading your propoganda other than the usual overdone *tin hat/cool aid/meds* haughty arrogance stance that you take? So overdone it's carbon at this point.
posted by watercarrier at 2:36 AM on September 12, 2008


I'll have what he's having and fuckit, I'll take the full dose, it's Friday...
posted by From Bklyn at 3:09 AM on September 12, 2008


Drink up. Be merry.
posted by watercarrier at 3:13 AM on September 12, 2008


From an individual standpoint, you are going to die eventually anyway, and while the potential loss is indeterminate it isn't infinite.

From a collective standpoint, everyone is going to die eventually anyway, so this point doesn't really help.

The death of all humanity is essentially an infinite loss, while my own death, while tragic to me, isn't in the same league.

Why is it infinite? The universe is a lot bigger than our planet. At worst, you're talking about a loss that is ~6B times bigger than the loss of my own life. That's big, but it's finite.


But you're talking about the current population of the planet. I'm talking about the existence of humanity, which will (hopefully) continue past the deaths of everyone alive today. The future of humanity has no intrinsic upper limit, so to risk it is to risk essentially infinite loss.

Here's another way to look at it. What if you could do an experiment that had (i) a 50% chance of producing a solution to global disease and poverty, and (ii) a 0.00001% chance of blowing up the planet. Setting aside unintended consequences (Malthusian nightmare, etc.), wouldn't that experiment be worth doing? If you really believe the risk of planetary destruction is "infinite," then the answer is "no." But a more rational cost-benefit analysis would produce an answer of "yes." It's the same reasoning that underlies an individual's daily decision-making, but on a global scale.
posted by brain_drain at 10:03 AM on September 9


Now you're getting interesting, and I think its a good question. (And, for the record, I want to say that I'm not really concerned about the LHC destroying the world, except in that "I've got anxiety to spare, whatcha got?" sort of way; and in that way I've still got anxiety since they haven't really cranked the thing up yet). What would be a good risk balance? What if the chance of blowing up the planet was raised to 0.01%? 1%? Whats ok? What if a future particle accelerator can produce more energy than cosmic rays?

Where, if anywhere do we draw the line? This worries me more than the LHC itself, the sense that some group of scientists may in the future build an even more powerful collider and similarly poo-poo the worries of people when the risks of a catastrophe are larger, but still small.
posted by Reverend John at 8:37 AM on September 12, 2008


These reptilian NWO'ers have their space stations ready to move to when the s*t hits the fan - they have no worries. This has all been in the planning for decades now since the inception of NASA. Shuttles have been very busy. They are ready to destroy all life - and they have no concerns about anyone since their biospheres are in place and their seed banks are well stocks. DNA databases and supply to create the *perfect race* are also within their clutches. It's only a matter of time now.


Wait a minute -- you really believe this?

I sincerely hope you get the help you need.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:46 PM on September 12, 2008


Auditing?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:45 PM on September 12, 2008


Maybe not something that powerful.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:53 AM on September 13, 2008


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