Monday, April 09, 2007
The Big Bang Boo Boo and the End of the World
Remember the story about the world's largest supercollider that they are building in Switzerland? The one that may help us understand the mystery of the Big Bang?
But has some scientists worried it could create tiny black holes that could gobble up our planet?
According to one scenario tiny black holes could be produced which hopefully would decay into what is known as Hawking radiation (the tinier the black hole, the faster it evaporates). If these black holes fail to decay, however, the consequences could be disastrous.
And how even the guy who developed the software for the project now has his doubts?
This physical realm is unknown, and dangerous phenomena might arise…Any physicist will tell you that there is no way to prove that generated black holes will decay. The consequences of being mistaken are unfathomable.
But other project scientists said that couldn't happen because they're sure the black holes would have to be much larger than that for them to drop through the floor, head straight for the molten core of our planet, and start making us disappear...
So isn't it reassuring to discover that some of those project scientists don't know what they're doing?
A £2 billion project to answer some of the biggest mysteries of the universe has been delayed by months after scientists building it made basic errors in their mathematical calculations....
The mistakes led to an explosion deep in the tunnel at the Cern particle accelerator complex near Geneva in Switzerland. It lifted a 20-ton magnet off its mountings, filling a tunnel with helium gas and forcing an evacuation.
I'm glad to see the scientists are embarrassed.
“We are dumb-founded that we missed some very simple balance of forces. Not only was it missed in the engineering design but also in the four engineering reviews carried out between 1998 and 2002 before launching the construction of the magnets.”
I just hope they don't miss anything else. But I'm not optimistic. Because now it's not just a risky scientific project. It's a race...
Coincidentally, Fermilab stands to gain most from delays at Cern. Its researchers also operate a rival but less powerful particle accelerator, the Tevatron.
Fermilab staff are pushing the Tevatron to ever-higher energies hoping that they might find the Higgs boson before the LHC switches on.
Uh oh. Add crazy capitalism and blind competition to bad science and an uncertain outcome, and anything could happen.
But it is a fascinating situation isn't it?
If we don't conduct tests like the one in Switzerland we may not be able to understand some of the greatest mysteries of our universe....the particles and forces that created us.
But if we do carry them out, without knowing more about the other bits of the puzzle, we could unleash forces that destroy us.
Wouldn't that be a cosmic joke?
I wonder if there are any others out there floating around in space? Civilizations that came so close to answering the ultimate question. Only to fail....catastrophically.
So my advice to those scientists is don't rush things. Take your time....a lot of time. Recheck your calculations. Open the safety question to scientific debate.
Because some things you can afford to be wrong about.
And some things you can't...