MSNBC.com reports today on the Large Hadron Collider, which the fine folks at CERN plan to switch on tomorrow in the hopes of re-creating conditions that may have existed in the first few seconds after the Big Bang. Not knowing, of course, exactly what conditions existed in the first few seconds after the Big Bang or what the result of slamming atoms into each other at breakneck speeds of 99.9% of the speed of light will be, the scientists are eagerly awaiting whatever surprises await. Including the possibility of creating one or more black holes, which the scientists at CERN assure us will not cause any problems.
Personally, I’m not scared. However, a number of folks are, and have filed a lawsuit to try to stop the machine from being turned on until more studies are done. MSNBC reports that the CERN scientists’ fears are not the black holes (I envision these guys sitting around like my teenagers blowing up fireworks in various illegal ways, making comments like, “cool!” “wicked!”), but that someone else may beat them in the race to find the Higgs boson, or that perhaps the experiment is a $10 Billion bust or even worse, that they find that no Higgs particle exists.
The Higgs boson is the theoretical particle that “is thought to interact with other particles to give them mass.” It has been aptly nick-named “The God Particle” because without it, the Standard Theory says, there’s no explanation for mass. In other words, they haven’t yet been able to explain the existence of matter apart from this theoretical particle. MSNBC quotes John Ellis, a physicist at CERN:
“This is in some sense the holy grail of particle physics, to find this missing link in the Standard Model,” Ellis said. “So that’s one thing that we’re really looking forward to with the LHC. In fact, back when we persuaded the politicians to stump up the money to build the thing, that’s probably what we told them.”
Wow, that really inspires confidence in these guys, doesn’t it? So, what if the particle doesn’t exist?
Ellis acknowledged that was a possibility. “This might be a little bit difficult to explain to our politicians, that here they gave us 10 billion of whatever, your favorite currency unit, and we didn’t find the Higgs boson,” he said.
But Ellis has faith that even then, there’d be something to discover — maybe something even weirder and more wonderful than the Higgs boson.
Maybe even itsy-bitsy black holes. Could this been the doomsday machine? Personally, and this is a totally uninformed hunch, I don’t think so. At worst, we could lose parts of France and Switzerland. Even if this did trigger the end of the world as we know it, I’m not afraid. I’m quitting my job, so that just means that finding a new job wouldn’t be an issue. I’m okay with that. It also could mean that science would have “proved” the existence of God, in a way. So, more power to ’em.
Tomorrow, MSNBC will apparently continue to look at the negative and positve possibilities of the collider.