The Large Hadron Collider powers up tomorrow

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the completion of the Large Hadron Collider for many years now (here’s proof), so I couldn’t miss this opportunity to remind everyone that the LHC will be powered up for the first time tomorrow. If you’re a nutjob scaremongerer, treat tonight like it’s your last night on Earth appropriately (you know, what with the creating of black holes that swallow the Earth and all). To everyone else: rejoice! If you don’t know the significance of the LHC, well, it may help us finally figure out how gravity works. And/or reveal all sorts of exotic particles that we don’t yet even know about.

So yeah, I’ve kind of been excited about this for a long time, and I’m giddy as a school girl that the date has finally arrived. I’ll definitely be drinking some kind of toast to the LHC tonight.

14 Responses to “The Large Hadron Collider powers up tomorrow”

  1. William (green) Says:

    I have access to school girl uniforms if that would help. What size do you wear?

  2. snaked Says:

    Well, they’re only circulating a beam tomorrow. Particle bashing won’t begin in earnest until October, if I recall correctly. So the doomsayers have a bit more time to spend wetting themselves.

    For those of you who are committed to believing the Kool-Aid induced hallucinations, I’m accepting checks of $20 and up dated for November. Express your crazy with your wallet! Come on, the exchange rate beyond the event horizon is horrible, you won’t miss it!

  3. Greg Maxwell Says:

    LHC is one third the power and ten years later than the ill-faited SSC was supposed to be. So rather than being excited, all I can say is “about damn time”, and “it’s good that some countries still care about science”.

    It won’t be until after 2012 or so that anyone even begins constructing a device that operated at the level that the SSC should have been at. It may well be that even 40TeV collisions are not enough to expose the higgs boson: Up higgs having an energy level up to something like 10^16 TeV is plausible under forms of the standard model. And accelerators producing collisions over 50 TeV will probably not be quick in coming as they will most likely have to be linear, and thus enormous. So, todays large colliders as tools for searching for Higgs may be big wastes of money. Good thing they have other uses.

  4. Jeff V Says:

    I’ve heard this thing has run up a bill of 8 billion dollars. Although it would be very interesting to understand things like “where gravity comes from” and other theoretical questions like that, I still think this money could be put to better use on more practical science like energy research, disease research and teaching monkeys how to put on tuxedoes.

    I’m not an expert on Particle Physics but can someone tell me how this experiment will yeild over $8 billion worth of results?

    Reminder: this is enough money to feed every starving person in the third world. We’re spending that sum on a small percentage of the population’s curiousity which may or may not (probably not) result in the end of our existence.

    Just sayin’…

  5. arensb Says:

    can someone tell me how this experiment will yeild over $8 billion worth of results?

    Since whatever results come out of the LHC will be published for all to see, it benefits everyone. $8 billion divided by 6 billion people == $1.33. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to throw that kind of cash at fundamental research, even if my share goes up to $5 or $10 to make up for people who can’t afford the $1.33.

    Alternately, the same $8 billion could be redirected toward running the war in Iraq for five weeks. Or run NASA for five and a half months.

    There have always been people opposed to pioneering research on the grounds that the money would be better spent closer to home. Go to the library and find some political cartoons criticizing the Apollo program.

  6. Cyde Weys Says:

    Jeff V: I don’t possibly see how this is enough money to feed every starving person in the third world. Maybe it’s enough to feed them for a couple days, but that doesn’t make their long-range problem go away.

    And addressing the larger point, yes, fundamental particle physics is well worth it. Remember, at some point we have to get off this planet. And assuming we ever do, there will eventually be quadrillions of humans living out amongst the stars. Would you throw away the futures of all of them by only addressing the immediate needs of the now? We really are risking the extinction of humanity here if we do not get off the planet soon. I don’t trust this world’s governments to be able to solve really tricky problems like climate change, and the only escape is escaping the Earth.

  7. Jeff V Says:

    I don’t possibly see how this is enough money to feed every starving person in the third world. Maybe it’s enough to feed them for a couple days, but that doesn’t make their long-range problem go away.

    A lot of those Sally Struthers countries could easily feed a person on about 2 bucks per day. 8 billion dollars goes a long way when you factor in the exchange rate to almost all areas of the world that actually have starving people in large numbers

    And addressing the larger point, yes, fundamental particle physics is well worth it. Remember, at some point we have to get off this planet. And assuming we ever do, there will eventually be quadrillions of humans living out amongst the stars. Would you throw away the futures of all of them by only addressing the immediate needs of the now? We really are risking the extinction of humanity here if we do not get off the planet soon. I don’t trust this world’s governments to be able to solve really tricky problems like climate change, and the only escape is escaping the Earth.

    I think that it would be drastically more difficult to colonize space than it would be to take care of our current planet.

    I don’t understand your perspective. On the one hand you don’t trust Earthling governments to cut down on greenhouse gases yet you trust those same governments to fund and successfully carry out full fledged migration to Space!

    Regardless, from the reading I’ve done, the research with the LHC seems to be all theoretical. I don’t hold a degree in physics and I’m not trying to portrait myself as a pundit, but what useful knowledge will human beings mine from this project? To me this seems like a very expensive way for Steven Hawking to settle a cocktail party bet.

    So, my question to you, the more scientifically knowledgable, is: what should we realistically hope to glean from these experiments?

  8. William (green) Says:

    That’s the whole point, though, isn’t it? If the research they’re planning could be anything more than theory at this point, there would be no need for the project.
    As for whether or not it’s needed… I’m not a particle physicist, so I don’t directly care about the LHC that much, but it will bring us a better understanding of physics, and as we understand more and more of the universe, we are able to create more accurate models of things and stronger materials and… build more impressive supercolliders.

    Nobody’s to say that emigration from our planet will necessarily need to be a government’s doing. Given the current trend, at least in the US, of the privatization of space travel, it’s not hard to see Imaginary Lunar Corp, Ltd selling plots on/near a moon base or something similar within the next 20 years or so.

    I’ll be interested to see how the military responds to that kind of a situation. In the event that a war breaks out on the moon, I wonder if it would spawn the creation of new mechanized* units, or if it would simply consist of one guy in an EVA suit floating over with a satchel charge to go pop the other guy.

    *No, I don’t mean “with legs” when I say this.

  9. T2A` Says:

    I thought it was pretty much understood that the American gov’t doesn’t give a fuck about the well-being of others?

    A month spent in our illegal occupation of Iraq costs upwards of $9 billion. We could build two LHCs for that!

    And let’s not forget what the chokehold religion has on our scientific research is doing. We probably could have cured every disease and ailment by now if people weren’t somehow blinded into thinking that 150 stem cells were equal to a human life.

    Of course, one has to wonder why they would care so much about “saving” fetuses when they’re so willing to send kids to fight illegal wars once they’ve turned 18…

    But we’re getting off topic a bit! :]

  10. Cyde Weys Says:

    Jeff V: If you could put a monetary value on England’s colonization of America, what would that be? Consider that, in those days, embarking upon massive sea exploration/colonization was more taxing on national resources than building particle accelerators is today.

    I wouldn’t have any guess on how much of a monetary value to give understanding of gravity and other fundamental particles, but all I know is it could easily make eight billion dollars look like peanuts. Say we learn something that lets us use a new energy source, or makes a current one more efficient. Look at everything that came out of the space program, like, say, all of those satellites that have proved absolutely essential to modern life. If you can’t figure out the justification for advancing knowledge, it’s simply because you’re not thinking hard enough about it.

  11. drinian Says:

    Good grief, there’s enough money in the world to do both. $8 billion is peanuts in the greater scheme of things, and, if you can’t see a justification for experimental particle physics in and of itself — which could have a huge impact in materials engineering and energy production somewhere down the road, anyway — think of it as an employment program to keep physicists, computer scientists, and engineers employed.

    Much like the fundamental problems of physics, I don’t see world hunger as something that can be “solved” any time soon. The issue is more complicated than just throwing more money at it; we could get into a conversation over farm subsidies if you want.

  12. Jeff V Says:

    I guess that’s the point. I don’t know enough about particle physics to truly understand what is even being studied.

    I agree though, a lot of the best discoveries from the space program were things that you might not think of. Back then, just having a computer in a single room was absolutely batshit crazy.

    I’d read a very pessimistic column about the LHC by a guy more sciency than I and he basically said that none of these discoveries would amount to anything practical. Upon further review he seems to be way off.

  13. Ed Says:

    World hunger is a political issue. It’s all about how messed up the politicians are and their disregard for their people.
    Anyway, regarding the discussion about the LHC and the money being spent on it, what if all those universities that kept James Maxwell working were to tell him: “fuck that bloody electricity thing, it will never give us anything useful, concentrate on the steam technology, that’s what will keep our factories running smoothly and the money rolling in”. The same thing can be said about Boole’s logic, which had absolutely no use at the time it was created. It’s so very obvious why we need this research from the LHC that it’s not even a point for discussion.
    Finally, just chill out… http://br.youtube.com/watch?v=j50ZssEojtM

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