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  • #46
    Originally posted by SQUACKEE
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080909/sc_afp/sciencephysicscernbritainhawking
    This is really one of the most interesting results that we can hope for: nothing! As Hawking indicates, it will really press the theoretical physics community to re-assess the current state of affairs. Many of our models predict wonderful results that agree with experiment to a high precision. Other models require absurd manipulations to get the right answer (e.g. some of the calculations give infinite results, which is physically unreasonable, so we use mathematical tricks to make those go away). Still other models predict things that we should see and we don't, so we are forced to find an auxiliary model to hide those results (e.g. string theory). So, we *know* there are problems and limitations to our models: we just need to know where the real problems lie.

    Imagine coming up with a model for running that predicts a 3 second 100m time. You know that's unreasonable, so you insert a bunch of "invisible" hurdles in the race that help to get the time back in the 10s range. You then set out to discover these invisible hurdles via some experiment. If you find them, your model is correct; if you don't you have to realize that your model is inherently wrong. Loosely, that's how a lot of high energy theory works.

    So, a positive- or a non-result at the LHC could / will be a definitive road sign pointing the direction that particle physics will take over the next few decades. It will also provide a road-map for the next big accelerator experiment, the ILC (International Linear Collider):

    http://www.linearcollider.org/cms/

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    • #47
      Originally posted by lonewolf
      I am adding this to the growing list of things I refuse to worry about.
      Bookmark this for future reference:

      http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroy ... ldyet.com/

      Comment


      • #48
        Re: End of World Nigh ?

        Originally posted by JRM
        Collisions won't start until sometime late in October or November (and even then they won't be at full energy).
        Good stuff! I'll be able to catch the World Series...and be put out of my misery before the hockey season gains too much momentum...oh yeah and two thumbs up to that black hole and gravity stuff. :P

        cman

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        • #49
          Agree with the Hawk man - they are not going to find the Higgs. It is one of those hurdels they invented to make their model square.

          JRM - Isn't alot of QED physics based on this type of modeling? What about SED physics coupled with Zero point energy theories? I think that may be the direction to go after CERN.

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          • #50
            All I can say is that the end better come on a Monday morning. If it happens on a Friday afternoon I'll be pretty pissed! :x

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            • #51
              From the Chi Trib story:

              "In theory, the probability that the LHC will produce pink elephants is not zero," Lykken said. He said the chances that the collider will spin off dangerous black holes is "in the pink elephant category."

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              • #52
                Originally posted by 26mi235
                From the Chi Trib story:

                "In theory, the probability that the LHC will produce pink elephants is not zero," Lykken said. He said the chances that the collider will spin off dangerous black holes is "in the pink elephant category."
                They're not quite the same thing: there is no physical mechanism that can produce pink elephants at the LHC. I would unequivocally say that there is a ZERO probability of producing elephants (although I'm sure Lykken's tongue was firmly implanted in his cheek).

                Black holes may be created if certain models of the universe are true, mainly that there are extra dimensions of space besides our three.

                Again, it's the stability of the black hole that's important.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by JRM
                  They're not quite the same thing: there is no physical mechanism that can produce pink elephants at the LHC.
                  Even if there were, I think the more pertinent difference is that the creation of pink elephants would be a relatively benign event, whereas the creation of a stable black hole (with a velocity below 11.2 km/s) would be catastrophic. Now I’ll take your word for the probability of the latter being extremely low. But you’re not claiming that it’s zero.

                  Evidently the folks in charge of making such decisions feel that the potential benefits of the experiment outweigh the risks, but since we’re talking about the destruction of the planet here, it’s just slightly annoying to me that I, as a resident of said planet, wasn’t consulted in any way. I’ve just seen a few too many guys over the years say: “Don’t worry; I know what I’m doing.” It’s one thing when it’s their famous last words – and something else entirely if they’re gonna go on my tombstone as well (figuratively speaking of course, since there won’t be any tombstones if the world gets squished into a black hole).

                  When was the last time that we did an experiment that might potentially destroy the earth? And how often do we do them? I know bambam mentioned that “people were worried the fission reaction might ignite the atmosphere” with regard to the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s. Does that count? Was that actually held to be a theoretical possibility, however remote, by the people running the project?

                  I’m not really going to lose sleep over the LHC. I understand that I’m a whole lot more likely to buy the farm via some other means. But it seems like a slippery slope to me. Where is the threshold of acceptable risk? Are you equally confident in the authorities’ judgment in the next big experiment? And the one after that?

                  If we aren’t the only intelligent life in the universe, why haven’t we detected any of the others? It seems to me that one of the most likely answers is that intelligence is overrated as a survival trait. But what do I know? Here, hold my beer and watch this…

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by BruceFlorman
                    If we aren’t the only intelligent life in the universe, why haven’t we detected any of the others? It seems to me that one of the most likely answers is that intelligence is overrated as a survival trait. But what do I know? Here, hold my beer and watch this…
                    I think that Stephen J Gould would certainly agree with the statement that intelligence is over-rated as an evolutionary survival trait. It is an interesting observation that one reason to not observe intelligent life is that intelligent life quickly (in an astronomical sense) snuffs itself out (can a mankind-like species last a million years after obtaining the ability to make nuclear weapons without going back to a state where they would not be communicative astronomically for another many millennium?

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by BruceFlorman
                      Evidently the folks in charge of making such decisions feel that the potential benefits of the experiment outweigh the risks, but since we’re talking about the destruction of the planet here, it’s just slightly annoying to me that I, as a resident of said planet, wasn’t consulted in any way.
                      There is more compelling evidence that the LHC will not destroy the world, at it's sitting right in front of us. The Earth has existed for several billion years, and continues to exist today. Every second of every day, things called cosmic rays are bombarding the upper atmosphere. Once in a while, some with energies that are between 1,000,000 and 1,000,000,000 times that of the LHC collisions make it through. "Once in a while," added up over billions of years, is the same as "a lot of collisions."

                      If stable black holes (or any of the other disaster scenarios) *might* be formed at the LHC, they will definitely be formed in these very high energy events. We're still here, ergo it's not happening.

                      When was the last time that we did an experiment that might potentially destroy the earth? And how often do we do them?
                      A few that come to mind: Trinity Test (1945), Ivy Mike (first hydrogen bomb - 1951), first CERN run (1983), Tevatron top quark searches (Batavia, IL, 1995), Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC, at Brookhaven National Labs, Long Island, 2000). All of these "experiments" were of increasingly high energy, and with the increasing energy came "What if?" scenarios from the physicists involved. These scenarios were more idle curiosity than anything else -- no one ever took them seriously, except when the public (who are notorious for blowing things out of proportion) got wind and demanded answers.

                      The result was the need to establish a panel at several places to confirm that these scenarios were statistically-improbable. Here are several recent reports (one from RHIC, the other two from LHC):

                      http://www.bnl.gov/rhic/disaster.htm
                      http://arxiv.org/abs/0807.3349v1
                      http://arxiv.org/abs/0806.3414

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Re: End of World Nigh ?

                        Originally posted by ponytayne
                        Quick, JRM, get your idea copyrighted! Fox Searchlight or [insert other movie studio here] will have this movie out in 12 months if you dont.
                        Al Gore could play a mad non-scientist who threatens to destroy the world unless a billion dollar ransom is paid to him in proton credits. Wait a minute, this theme sounds familiar.

                        I just like the idea that this is the "largest and most complicated machine ever devised" supplanting the sound stage from the 1997 movie "Contact."







                        Scientists put in the final touches, and prepare to "fire this sucker up."

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Re: End of World Nigh ?

                          Originally posted by malmo
                          I just like the idea that this is the "largest and most complicated machine ever devised" supplanting the sound stage from the 1997 movie "Contact."
                          I think you have it backwards: that's a standard design for a particle detector (it's a big magnet). CERN originally had one in 1983. Fermilab outside Chicago has several, etc... They look pretty funky, though, hence the Hollywood attraction.

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                          • #58
                            One of my college teammates, Brian Boyer, has worked at CERN, Brookhaven and I believe is now at Los Alamos. Don't ask me what he does, it's way above my pay grade.

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                            • #59
                              For the love of God, we must fly Sigourney Weaver to Europe right away so she can be there when they open an interdimensional portal and the acid-drooling space monsters come through. She's probably the only one with any experience in this sort of matter and the only one who can save us. She'll probably investigate and find that the CERN scientists are actually flunkies for the space monsters to boot.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by racewalker
                                For the love of God, we must fly Sigourney Weaver to Europe right away
                                Unless you want this thing gestating in your thoracic cavity, I'd do exactly as racewalker says.

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