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LHC Flips On Tomorrow 526

Posted by Soulskill
from the nice-knowing-you-all dept.
BTJunkie writes "The Large Hadron Collider, the worlds most expensive science experiment, is set to be turned on tomorrow. We've discussed this multiple times already. A small group of people believe our world will be sucked into extinction (some have even sent death threats). The majority of us, however, won't be losing any sleep tonight." Reader WillRobinson notes that CERN researchers declared the final synchronization test a success and says, "The first attempt to circulate a beam in the LHC will be made this Wednesday, Sept. 10 at the injection energy of 450 GeV (0.45 TeV). The start up time will be between (9:00 to 18:00 Zurich Time) (2:00 to 10:00 CDT) with live webcasts provided at webcast.cern.ch."
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LHC Flips On Tomorrow

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  • by Drakin020 (980931) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:09PM (#24938457)
    I thought tomorrow was when they turned it on. I thought the end of the world was to happen when the first collision is made right?
    • Correct. No boom today. Boom tomorrow. Always boom tomorrow.

    • by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:14PM (#24938545)
      I don't understand the whole "miniature black hole" thing. I think the naysayers have just been reading too much sci-fi. Microscopic black holes would evaporate in a very small amount of time due to Hawking radiation...they would leave a detectable energy signature so that we could tell they were there, but that's about it. The LHC won't be doing anything that isn't already happening in the upper atmosphere due to cosmic rays anyway.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Paul Pierce (739303)

        The LHC won't be doing anything that isn't already happening in the upper atmosphere due to cosmic rays anyway.

        This is true, but what if watching what is going on - changes what happens? Isn't this one of the mysteries of quantum physics?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by g0bshiTe (596213)
        Clearly this should be a larger event than the Blackhole of Goatse
      • by timholman (71886) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:36PM (#24938887)

        I don't understand the whole "miniature black hole" thing. I think the naysayers have just been reading too much sci-fi. Microscopic black holes would evaporate in a very small amount of time due to Hawking radiation...they would leave a detectable energy signature so that we could tell they were there, but that's about it. The LHC won't be doing anything that isn't already happening in the upper atmosphere due to cosmic rays anyway.

        One of the main fearmongers concerning the LHC is Otto Rossler. He's a 68-year-old biochemist whose initial career was respected and conventional, but in recent years has veered into promoting his own "Theory of Everything" that contradicts the Theory of Relativity. According to Rossler, (a) Hawking radiation doesn't exist, and (b) microscopic black holes created by cosmic rays are moving so fast that they pass right through the earth, whereas LHC black holes will be trapped by earth's gravity and destroy the planet.

        What's really happening is that Rossler and others like him are using the LHC as a soapbox to promote their particular brands of pseudoscience. From what I've read, any debate with Rossler quickly leads to him promoting his own pet theories, rather than any rational examination of the risks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by budgenator (254554)

          Does he explain how a proton is going to acquire enough mass into a small enough radius to turn into a blackhole without using lorenz transformations, E=mC^2 and relativistic weirdness?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          From what I've read, any debate with Rossler quickly leads to him promoting his own pet theories, rather than any rational examination of the risks.

          No, no, you don't understand. Nutcases like this know that a thorough understanding of their enlightened pseudoscience is fundamental to any rational examination of the risks. They're trying to help you. Really.

      • by philspear (1142299) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:47PM (#24939009)

        Microscopic black holes would evaporate in a very small amount of time due to Hawking radiation..

        Are you willing to gamble the existence of the universe on that untested hypothesis? Yes?

        By the way, every biology article gets tagged "whatcouldpossiblygowrong?" An article showing that artificial DNA self-associates was tagged that. No chance of killer viruses from that, yet it got the tag. Here we have a scientific study with some people actually claiming it will end the earth. They may be idiots, but people who worry about DNA strands creating vampires like in I am legend are just as idiotic. What gives?

        I personally say it's only because no movies have yet taken the idea of LHC and mangled it into nonsense to use as a plot device the way they've used killer artificial viruses. And that's probably only because "complete oblitheration of the world" is a pretty boring plot.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @06:09PM (#24939291)

          Even if they don't evaporate, black holes don't produce a stronger gravitational field than other objects of the same mass. As long as the law of conservation of matter holds (or even if the amount of matter in the LHC triples) we should be fine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by extrasolar (28341)

          Are you willing to gamble the existence of the universe on that untested hypothesis? Yes?

          Sure, you could reply to this post thinking that nothing will go wrong; but are you really willing to gamble the existence of the universe on this untested hypothesis?

          See, that's the problem with this whole line of reasoning: the idea that as the conception of danger increases, the less risk we are allowed to afford. And since everything has some risk, there is, afterall, all kinds of things we don't know anything about; and for all you know responding to this very post may bring about the end of the unive

      • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:48PM (#24939017) Homepage Journal
        The naysayers retort is that no one ever has seen Hawking radiation. My retort is that we are afraid that a black hole, which is only a theoretical construct that requires that certain constructs go to infinity, is not being evaporated by Hawking radiation, which coincidentally is another theoretical construct which requires theoretical virtual particles to theoretically become real. If one fanciful theoretical object cannot be eliminated by another fanciful theoretical object, then all my education through bad science fiction is for naught. In the end, right before we are destroyed, we can take solace in knowing two things. First, that black holes are real. Second, that Hawking radiation is not. Sometimes scientific proof comes at a great price.
      • by TheDauthi (219285) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:48PM (#24939019)
        The fear is that the LHC is doing one thing differently - any black holes created in the upper atmosphere would have a velocity approaching that of light, and pass harmlessly through the earth, grabbing a proton or two on the way. At the LHC, it's possible that some of the holes created would have a much lower velocity - less than escape velocity. Those holes wouldn't just leave earth, they'd stick around.

        First, we actually have to be in the right range to create the black holes. This is very, very unlikely - it requires large extra dimensions, something allowed for but not expected in theory.

        Then there's Hawking radiation. While there's no reason to believe it doesn't exist (and several to believe it does), it hasn't been experimentally verified. If it doesn't exist, or if a black hole radiates much slower than expected, any created holes could survive long enough to actually absorb more matter.

        This [arxiv.org] PDF has the interesting math behind all of this.

        Note: No, I'm not even saying they're right. I'm simply stating what their argument is for it. There's a lot of problems with those arguments, and I'm on the "destroy the world? Yeah, right?" side. I'm actually having an LHC get-together tomorrow night, and plan to have an Mad Scientist "End of the World" party on October 21, when they're having the first high-energy collisions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hardburn (141468)

      Don't say that. Just keep quiet and when we're all still alive on Thursday, the naysayers will just go away.

  • Uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by FauxPasIII (75900) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:12PM (#24938517)

    Everyone out of the universe... QUICK!

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:12PM (#24938535) Journal

    Why would you send death threats to someone you think is going to destroy the world? If he was afraid of dying, he wouldn't be destroying the world, right?

  • by realisticradical (969181) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:12PM (#24938537) Homepage
    You're all invited to my end of the world party tonight. LSD and hookers will be served.
  • by rminsk (831757) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:14PM (#24938551)

    They will be only sending a beam around the LHC in a single direction at about 7% power. It will be about a month before they send a beam in the other direction and have a collision. I think it is about a year before they will be up to full power.

  • by atari2600 (545988) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:14PM (#24938553)

    No possibility of a resonance cascade they said. Put the crystal thing into the spectrometer they said. The whole thing blew up my place of employment and I started Unforeseen Consequences with nothing but a crowbar for a while.

    Moral: Keep your crowbars close and your guns closer and don't trust the scientists.

  • by Onymous Coward (97719) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:15PM (#24938581) Homepage

    The weirdness has already begun if 9:00 to 18:00 Zurich Time is 2:00 to 10:00 CDT.

  • A superhero or two coming out of this. I just hope it isn't someone from that LHC Rap.
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:17PM (#24938615)
    We're doomed!! Oh God, I can't die a virgin! Virgins may all go to heaven, but only to get screwed by Muslim terrorists!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:19PM (#24938639)

    Intercom 1: (feedback)"Testing, testing. (coughs) Everything seems to
    be in order."
    Intercom 2: "All right, Gordon. your suit should keep you comfortable
    through all this. The specimen will be delivered to you in a few
    moments. If you would be so good as to climb up and start the rotors,
    we can bring the anti-mass spectrometer to 80 percent and hold it there
    until the carrier arrives.
    Intercom 2: "Gordon, are you not hearing me? Climb up and start the
    rotors, please.
    Intercom 2: "Very good. We'll take it from here."
    Intercom 1: "Power to stage 1 emitters in 3,2,1. I'm seeing predictable
    phase arrays."
    Intercom 1: "Stage 2 emitters activating...now."
    Intercom 2: "Gordon, we cannot predict how long the system can operate
    at this level, nor how long the readings will take. Please, work as
    quickly as you can."
    Intercom 1: "Overhead capacitors to one oh five percent. Uh, it's
    probably not a problem, probably, but I'm showing a small discrepancy
    in... well, no, it's well within acceptable bounds again. Sustaining
    sequence."
    Intercom 2: "I've just been informed that the sample is ready, Gordon.
    It should be coming up to you any moment now. Look to the delivery
    system for your specimen."

  • by Pedrito (94783) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:19PM (#24938649) Homepage

    I need to hurry up and finish work on my black-hole shelter...

  • by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:19PM (#24938651)

    I owe far too much money for that to ever happen.

  • Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you. Dr. Peter Venkman: What? Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams. Dr. Peter Venkman: Why? Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad. Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"? Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal. Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad.
    • by repapetilto (1219852) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:27PM (#24938781)

      Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
      Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
      Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
      Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
      Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

  • 0.45 TeV (Score:5, Funny)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:20PM (#24938667) Homepage Journal

    Shouldn't that be 0.439 TeV? (450 GeV / 1024)

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:22PM (#24938691)
    Coming to think of it, maybe that's why it's so hard to detect alien civilisations similar to us in the universe. We only have the tiny window of time between when they discover radio transmission and until they make their LHC and wipe themselves out.
  • "Hold onto your butts"
    - Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold), Jurassic Park
  • by No2Gates (239823) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:24PM (#24938733)

    Back in the old days of the cold war, in the schools,for preparation of a nuclear bomb falling, we would get under our desks because they are obviously made of some kind of material that can withstand radiation and a giant percussion wave. I'll bet those desks can withstand the LHC black hole too. Only school children and teachers will be left.

    • I didn't miss the joke -- I LOL'ed, I promise -- but speaking as a CERT instructor [citizencorps.gov]: you were told to get under your desks not to protect against a blast near enough to cause vaporization, but to protect against a possible collapse of a building damaged by an otherwise-non-lethal pressure wave. Yes of course if the bomb detonates right above you, you're toast, and if the bomb detonates far enough away that the pressure wave can't cause building damage then you're cowering under your desk for nothing. For the huge chunk of distance-from-ground-zero in between those two extremes, though, your chance of surviving a building collapse is much greater if you have a personal void to hide inside -- like the area under a desk. That's why your 'nuclear bomb drill' and your 'tornado drill' are so similar: you are increasing your odds of survival, being successfully located and extracted by search and rescue teams, in the event that part of your building collapses.

  • by GreggBz (777373) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:26PM (#24938751) Homepage
    Quick, who wants to get laid? My standards have dropped considerably, given the circumstances.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Now you just have to wait for a substantial drop in their standards (and hope they aren't already too busy getting it on).

      The best laid plans...
  • by BitterOldGUy (1330491) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:44PM (#24938961)
    Universe and we'll be in an alternate reality.

    You'll know it too. You'll wake up one day with a Black President or with an old geezer and a MILF for a VP.

    Then, and only then, will I worry!

  • by femto (459605) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:45PM (#24938987) Homepage

    Doctors Karl Kruszelnicki and Kevin Varvell are giving an LHC lecture [usyd.edu.au] at the University of Sydney tonight. 7pm at the Footbridge Theatre. Varvell is a contributor to the ATLAS detector. Kruszelnicki is always fun. It includes a live cross to CERN. The lecture was to be in the school of Physics but has had to be transferred to a larger venue due to popular demand.

  • by mustafap (452510) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:45PM (#24938989) Homepage

    For some reason, the BBC are making a big thing of this, and providing a lot of coverage and related programmes on the Radio 4 station.

    The BBC provide a listen again service for those of you who are distant but interested. Check out the programmes here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/bigbang/ [bbc.co.uk]

    Assuming that the world isn't swallowed up by a black hole from the experiment, that is:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/science/15risk.html [nytimes.com]

  • by thermopile (571680) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:47PM (#24939015) Homepage
    Look, I think the LHC is really cool -- and I'm looking forward to the results it produces -- but I'm afraid it's not the most expensive science project.

    The International Space Station [wikipedia.org] gets that (dis)honor, with an estimated cost of $25.6B (US) from 1994 to 2005, not including shuttle costs - and that's just NASA's budget.

    So, from that perspective, the LHC is a bargain. And it's probably still cheap compared to what the Superconducting SuperCollider would have ended up costing.

    • by verbamour (1308787) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @06:24PM (#24939453)

      I'm just mad that the Europeans are going to beat us to destroying the Earth.

      What every happened to America #1?

      It would server them damn Europeans right if the LHC _didn't_ destroy the Earth and we managed to do it with Global Warming (sorry, Global Climate Change) instead. Ah, they'd probably just hide out in their circular tunnel, tweaking their precious proton stream until they got it right... ...stupid geniuses...

  • by garethw (584688) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:49PM (#24939043)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skuzzlebutt (177224)

      Thankfully, there is an RSS feed so you know in real-time if the Earth has been destroyed:

      http://www.hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com/rss.xml [hasthelhcd...eearth.com]

      But, what if the end of the world affects my DSL? Is there an option for SMS?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by martinw89 (1229324)
      The source for that page is hilarious:

      <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
      <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
      <head>
      <title>Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the earth yet?</title>
      <!-- the first person to ask for an RSS feed gets a free black hole in their junk

      ok FINE here
      -->

      <link rel="alternate" title="Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the earth yet?" h
  • by damburger (981828) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:57PM (#24939139)
    Aside from the idiocy of the conspiracy theorists in general, they seemed to have missed the point that if the beam is at 450GeV, then the collision will be 900GeV and that doesn't exceed the energy of the most powerful currently active accelerator (the Tevatron). Even if the 14TeV collisions ultimately envisioned were going to create a micro black hole and end the Earth, it wouldn't happen tomorrow anyway.
  • Fermi Paradox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gumpish (682245) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @06:01PM (#24939177) Journal

    Is this the answer to the Fermi paradox? [wikipedia.org]

    If, given the expected number of star systems with planets capable of supporting life (which although may be a low percentage of stars still isn't nil), and given that evolution eventually results in intelligence (or at least there's a decent probability it does), then there should be plenty of other intelligent civilizations (certainly including post-Singularity civilizations). But there (apparently) aren't.

    So either we're first, out of all those star systems...

    Or just perhaps intelligent civilizations all eventually delve into the field of particle physics and build colliders... then wink out of existence in spontaneous black holes.

  • by Panaflex (13191) <convivialdingo AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @09:02PM (#24941331)

    LHC has all the latest safety systems... in the event of an actual black hole or strangelet event...

    they simply full the lever and hit the button!! [isv.uu.se]

    It says.. "Black Hole/Stranglet CRASH button - In case of imminent world destruction, break glass and press CMS ABORT button"
    (Yes, that's really in the LHC control room LOL)

  • Time loop (Score:3, Funny)

    by Samah (729132) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @10:15PM (#24941957)
    Damn it you insensitive clods, we're stuck in a time loop!
    Somehow I was immune to its effects and have been reliving this day over and over and over, at least 100 times now!
    I've been watching Groundhog Day [imdb.com] and 12:01 [imdb.com] to try to work out what's happening and how I can stop it but... oh crap here it goes ag~~~
  • by richard.cs (1062366) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:50AM (#24944019) Homepage

    Has anyone here read about the "Oh-My-God particle" [fourmilab.ch]? A proton detected in 1991 with an energy of 3.2±0.9×10^20 eV - that's 51 Joules, an energy you'd expect for a macroscopic object and 10 million times more than the maximum the LHC can produce (7 Tev).

    The linked page has some of the relativistic properties calculated for that proton including that "After traveling one light year, the particle would be only 0.15 femtoseconds -- 46 nanometres -- behind a photon that left at the same time."

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