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Science

LHC Success! 1007

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-news-everybody dept.
Tomahawk writes "It worked! The LHC was turned on this morning and has been shown to have worked. Engineers cheered as the proton particles completed their first circuit of the underground ring which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). (And we're all still alive, too!)" Here is a picture from the control room which I'm sure makes sense to someone that isn't me.
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LHC Success!

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  • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:12AM (#24946089) Homepage Journal

    I expected the "turned on" link to be linking to XKCD [xkcd.com].

    My only question is, when the smoke clears and we're all fine, will the doomsayers ever learn for the next time? Probably not. I'm sure next time they'll say
    "this time, its different, the world is really going to end this time".

  • by numbware (691928) <justin@justinjacobs.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:13AM (#24946113) Homepage

    If I'm correct, no collisions have taken place yet.

  • No risk yet. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fprintf (82740) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:14AM (#24946127) Journal

    The only question is, when they start colliding and/or accelerating the beams up toward the speed of light will this be the end of the world? As the XKCD comic says, they haven't really done anything interesting/risky just yet.

  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:22AM (#24946259)

    Yeah, you'd think we'd be able to avoid the headline hysteria here at least.

  • Re:16 bit colour? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:25AM (#24946309) Journal

    Because screens with colour used informatively, rather than making eye candy screens with flashy gradients and transparency, make the actual information easier to discern. This isn't some commercial app that has to sell to Mac enthusiasts, nor is it Photoshop.

  • by thermian (1267986) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:31AM (#24946397)

    Remember when Comet Shoemaker Levy 9 hit Jupiter? There were people saying (and being interviewed on the BBC no less) that pieces of Jupiter would break off and collide with Earth...

    The claims of some regarding LHC are no less crazy. What distresses me is the level of coverage these nutbars have had on the news channels. I don't know about you, but I've had several people with non scientific backgrounds who've been scared by this 'news' turn to me for some real world information/reassurance.

    When you are dealing with the level of brain dead reasoning that produces such spurious and inaccurate statements about things like the LHC, you can't hope to succeed. Honestly, even if you come up with good reasons, it automatically becomes a cover up to those people, thus excusing even wilder claims.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:32AM (#24946417) Journal

    you'd think we'd be able to avoid the headline hysteria here at least.

    You must be new here ;)

  • by Doug Neal (195160) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:32AM (#24946421)

    Am I the only one who's sick of every news story and every discussion about the LHC deteriorating into giving the "end of the world" bullshit even more time of day that it doesn't deserve?

    This is one of the most important and ambitious scientific experiments that has been attempted in a long long time, but it seems that instead of taking the opportunity to get the general public inspired about science and discovery, the mainstream media has used it to spread unfounded doomsday rumours and anti-science propaganda. The fact that it's dominating even Slashdot discussions (albeit mostly in a joking way) is pretty tragic IMHO.

    Prof Brian Cox said it best [telegraph.co.uk] - "anyone who believes the LHC will destroy the world is a twat".

    I've taken a huge interest in all this lately and have been spending hours on Wikipedia reading about bosons and leptons and so on.. it would be great to get some quality posts in this thread from some real hardcore particle physicists (come on, I know you're out there...)

  • Re:BFD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairykrishna (740240) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:33AM (#24946423)
    The vast majority of the 'critics' you refer have no idea what they're actually scared of. This switch on should reassure them well enough. The loons that make up the other fraction of the 'critics' will carry on doomsaying. Fortunately the majority of the reporters giving them air time don't really understand either so this switch on should effectively shut them up too.

    By the way the story is 'the LHC is switched on'. It heralds the beginning of one of the most interesting science experiments of our age. The story is not really 'we are still alive' as that is no surprise to anyone who is not a retard.

  • Re:BFD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:34AM (#24946445)

    I thought that the critics of this project were worried about the effects of COLLIDING the particles. Since that hasn't happened yet, this story is a whole lotta nuthin'.

    Huh? You do realize that the purpose of building and turning on the LHC isn't to silence black-hole-apocalypse believers, right? The purpose of the LHC is to do new science. Successful containment and acceleration of the beams is an important milestone for this project. That's why this is news.

    Presumably you will still think this story is "a whole lotta nuthin'" once collisions do happen, because those collisions will be at energies already probed by other accelerators. And even once LHC ramps up to full power, it will still be "a whole lotta nuthin'" because those energies already occur in nature (e.g. cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere).

    I think it would be more accurate to say that the worries about black-hole-apocalypse are "a whole lotta nuthin'" whereas a successful activation of the LHC is amazing news for anyone interested in science.

  • by Bob-taro (996889) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:34AM (#24946449)
    Huh? That's like saying "sparky stuff known as electricity" or "an attractive force known as magnetism". If you don't know what a proton is, is knowing it's a particle going to help you understand the article?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:39AM (#24946563)

    My thought is "A witty saying proves nothing" - Voltaire.

    You would need to cite some historical examples for that quote to mean much, who knows if it is even true or not? Didn't much of the cutting-edge mathematics of the 19th and some of the 20th century comes from physicists first?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:43AM (#24946633)
    Ahh, but the world did end. Didn't you feel the phase shift as we all blinked out of existence in our previous universe and rematerialized in this new, expanded Universe?

    Lets just hope that in this new Universe the expansion continues on knowledge, and starts contracting and imploding on narrow minded, superstitious ignorant "twats".
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:44AM (#24946651) Homepage

    *By definition* the doomsayers are always wrong. If they had ever been correct in the past, we wouldn't be here to talk about it now.

    By the same token, your claim that everything is going to be fine is a one-way bet. You can only be proved right.

    (+5, Inevitable)

  • by solios (53048) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @09:52AM (#24946767) Homepage

    Just remember - when they tested the first atomic bomb, they didn't know if it would ignite the atmosphere or not.

    Fortunately, it didn't.

    We (as a species) haven't done anything on the scale of the LHC before - and since the whole point of the device is to learn more about stuff we don't (relatively) know much about, there's bound to be WILD speculation about the potential results.

    The loons get airplay because the loony airplay gets the ratings - and TV/radio is about ad revenue first and actual content second. ;p

  • by kgp_crap (997022) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:01AM (#24946903)
    Only two beams were passed and No collisions took place. Cern hasnt announced yet when it schedules collisions to take place. In all probability, it would be a year before we see collisions at full power.
    So even though I dont agree with the doomsayers, they still have something to crow about.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7604293.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • by filterban (916724) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:12AM (#24947075) Homepage Journal
    The problem here -- and you're a prime example -- is that most people have no idea what a black hole really is, and they're scared of it.

    As others point out, these black holes form all the time in nature. And black holes do dissipate. Most people only know black holes as the crazy huge things that eat light and stars and are "gateways to other dimensions". So, when they see the headline, "Large Hadron Collider Will Create Black Holes" they panic and try to stop it from happening.

    It's just another example of the media feeding off of the public's ignorance and willingness to read an eye-catching headline.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:19AM (#24947197)

    So do the religious, but I bet you're an atheist ;-)

  • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:30AM (#24947395) Homepage Journal

    Just remember - when they tested the first atomic bomb, they didn't know if it would ignite the atmosphere or not.

    Fortunately it didn't.

    No, no they didn't. Stop trying to frame scientists as these irresponsible idiots who could murder us all in one experiment. One person proposed that possibility, and it was thoroughly refuted before the test. From Wikipedia's Manhattan Project page [wikipedia.org]:

    Teller also raised the speculative possibility that an atomic bomb might "ignite" the atmosphere, because of a hypothetical fusion reaction of nitrogen nuclei. Bethe calculated, according to Serber, that it could not happen. In his book The Road from Los Alamos, Bethe says a refutation was written by Konopinski, C. Marvin, and Teller as report LA-602, showing that ignition of the atmosphere was impossible, not just unlikely.[7] In Serber's account, Oppenheimer mentioned it to Arthur Compton, who "didn't have enough sense to shut up about it. It somehow got into a document that went to Washington" which led to the question being "never laid to rest".[8]

    Similarly, there's no chance the LHC can kill us. As you said, "we (as a species) haven't done anything on the scale of the LHC before" but that doesn't change the fact that nature does it all the time. Earth is constantly bombarded by cosmic rays of energy levels higher than the LHC can produce. If it could have destroyed us, it would have already.

    The loons get airplay because the loony airplay gets the ratings - and TV/radio is about ad revenue first and actual content second. ;p

    No argument with that.

  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:35AM (#24947489)

    The big problem is the media reporting a tiny group of crackpots as if they represented mainstream views. They don't.

    I think the LHC is the best thing to happen to science in a long time. Three cheers for CERN!

    ...laura

  • by slew (2918) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:35AM (#24947491)

    I think historically, often early engineering solutions are adhoc and based on elementary math and physics. As the field matures, it taps into cutting edge physics and mathematics for furthur refinement. the limiting factors of adoption of refinements are often economic not technical. That's why they take so long, not because there are generally techical limitations.

    For example, humans engineered bridges long before finite element solvers and vibrational modes were generally known and accounted for in the design. Even computers (e.g., mechanical or relay computers) were engineered before the physics behind transistors were discovered. Once the physics and mathematics were discovered, the real limitations behind the application of these refinements were economic velocity.

    If anything has sped up in our world is the application of large scale economic leverage to problem. In the pre-modern world, finding large markets and mustering the capital to realize a technical advance was career in itself (think about the early explorers visiting kings and queens to get financial support to sail their boat to try and find the "passage-to-india"). The want was not the physics or math (the navigation technology and the boats were all available for years), but raising the financial backing was hard. Even in the so called industrial age, capital was still quite centralized to big corporations and governments and international markets were not very well developed often due to massive tariffs and other trade barriers.

    Now with modern investment markets and international trading, people with good ideas (and some people that don't have good ideas), have unprecedented backing of capital and available markets to press forward with just about any application that is feasible. If it's true that the barriers to adoption of cutting edge stuff from math or physics are really only limited by economic factors (which may be as long as before if the technology is expensive and the market demand isn't present), the time should be shorter. It's not because the advances are a high level that they will take a long time to be developed, it's because they don't have any market or require excessive capital for the available market that they will have problems being adopted.

    For example, if some cutting edge math or physics discovery resulted in a battery that was exponentially better (e.g., cheaper/ligher), than today, I'd bet it would be in an electric car and/or ipod in a matter of a few years as there would be massive investment made in that area to develop the engineering required. However, if we had a way to make $5billion microscopic black holes that nobody wanted, that would take quite a while to be available at radio-shack as a party favor or gag gift...

  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:41AM (#24947581)

    Hear, hear.

    How long until some results are known? IIRC one of the saddest outcomes of this experiment would be to find nothing new, because new bigger colliders would not get funded.

    The challenge in that case will be explaining to The Authorities that the very best science comes from somebody looking at experimental data, scratching their head and thinking "That's funny..."

    If the LHC doesn't find the Higgs Boson (among other things) the challenge will be to revamp physics, up to and including the Standard Model, to explain why. It has guided physics for decades, but if it proves to be wrong, we'll need new physics.

    This would be a spectacular result in its own right, though it might be hard to explain why to non-scientific people.

    ...laura

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:45AM (#24947647) Journal

    These black holes sink to the center of the Earth, but are so small they don't interact with any atoms on the way down. They sit at the center of the Earth, absorbing a new particle every few thousand years.

    They wouldn't sink to the earth's centre; they would either escape earth's gravity or simply fall into some sort of orbit. With such a small size as to have no significant interaction with the matter they pass, they would experience no deceleration, but then they wouldn't be too dangerous either. If these hypothetical black holes actually do exist, you could still probably have several million of them – perhaps even billions – pass directly through your body without consuming enough atoms to be noticed.

  • by mdielmann (514750) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:46AM (#24947669) Homepage Journal

    You could always try this:
    Imagine you're walking down the street in a seedy part of town. You trip over your own feet and somehow, once you've landed, you're having sex with the most beautiful girl you've ever seen. Sure, it's possible, but you won't see anyone changing their jogging route on the off chance.

  • by Fëanáro (130986) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:50AM (#24947725)

    The doomsayers only need to be right once... :)

    the doomsayers can by definition only be right once

    I do not think we have to worry about several dooms in a row.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:57AM (#24947821)

    "TV/radio is about ad revenue first and actual content second."

    And THAT is what will destroy the world someday.

  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:07AM (#24948007) Homepage Journal

    Huh? That's like saying if a guy building a set of scales knew what he was doing, why would he build them? You need the scales to measure your weight, and you need the LHC to run particle physics experiments.

    Just because you know what a set of scales is going to measure, and you know that the mechanisms involved during the measurement are safe, doesn't mean you know what the results will be!

    In this case, perhaps the LHC dudes could cause an explosion or inter-dimensional rift, but I think the mini black holes angle has been well covered ;)

  • by raddan (519638) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:15AM (#24948133)
    Well, in defense of people who use "brain dead reasoning", it's very hard to know how naive you are until you aren't naive anymore. When I got my first bachelor's degree, in philosophy, I thought I understood this well. But when I went back to school to become a scientist, I found out, well, I was completely naive. Things that seemed obvious and logical to me really were not at all logical once I had some training in mathematics. And the math I'm talking about-- calculus, statistics, set theory-- that's all pretty basic stuff for scientists and engineers. But for a layperson? Waaay over their heads. Take the Monty Hall [wikipedia.org] problem. The solution is completely counterintuitive, but the problem is so damned simple. This is why people like my contractor friend thinks us academic types are so full of shit. Most people have no idea how hard it is to actually _prove_ something.
  • Re:LHC Cannon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Leonard Fedorov (1139357) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:16AM (#24948141)

    This is why slashdot needs a -1 Time Cube moderation option.

    Do you have any idea how much energy it takes to get those protons to near light speed? Think how much it'll take to get anything macroscopic moving at such speeds. Coupled with the fact a proton on its own is electrically charged while most atoms are electrically neutral - so using super conducting magnets won't work which is what the LHC makes a lot of use of.

  • Re:LHC Cannon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tenebrousedge (1226584) <tenebrousedge AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:40AM (#24948539)

    It's completely and utterly impossible. There are so many things wrong with the concept, it's difficult to explain.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:43AM (#24948581) Journal

    So who hit "Preview" and "Submit"?

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:58AM (#24948805)
    I remember seeing a program recently on the History Channel where they were explaining the science behind the LHC along with a tour of the facilities, the major experiments, interviews with the scientists, and (the interesting part for us Slashdot dwellers) the computer facilities. They mentioned that a tremendous amount of processing power with massive computer grids is required to analyze and filter the data from the detectors because there is not enough data storage presently in existence here on Earth to store more than one day's worth of collisions and detector data if they stored everything (i.e. they have to try and decide which collisions are the most interesting and only record those ones to the SAN). It seems that the more computing power they have available the more thorough they can be in their analysis of the data to fish out the interesting bits so I was wondering...How long might it be before we see a LHC@Home project like the Seti and protein folding where those of us who wish to can donate spare CPU cycles to analyze collision detector data can do so?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @02:16PM (#24950875)

    If it was to end the World it wouldn't be until they actually started colliding and ramped the power up.

    I wouldn't be partying yet sending the beams round one way wasn't anyones worry.

  • Inconsistent Press (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mike Morgan (9565) * on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:25PM (#24951765)

    I've heard both "the LHC will create conditions not seen since the Big Bang" and "cosmic rays, of more intense energy than generated by the LHC, bombard the earth every day..."

    Is there a subtlety here that I'm missing? Does the LHC create an environment not seen since the Big Bang but consisting of energies less intense than cosmic rays?

    It seems like one quote was kept since funding request days and the latter generated for allaying the doomsayers.

  • by ErkDemon (1202789) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @07:40PM (#24955369) Homepage
    Indeed.

    To make a "car" analogy, they're turned the ignition key and listened to the engine start up and turn over, and are congratulating themselves that the thing that they've just finished building seems to be working.

    They've revved the engine with the gears in neutral. They haven't actually driven anywhere yet. That comes later.

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