CERN Hadron Collider (mother of all colliders) starts up today

Posted on: September 5, 2008

Remember that cartoon of the long haired hippie hermit holding up the sign, The World Will End….? Well, he may be right.

The world stopped using aerosol hair spray because that could damage the ozone layer. There are even rules against you speeding your car. Things could go wrong. You could hurt people.
But…it is okay to build a machine so big it is underground in two different countries and could make little black holes that could suck up the earth with a really neat sucking sound. Slurp.

Scientists say it’s okay, don’t worry about it, but when scientists say don’t worry about it, that’s what gets me worried.
Scientists with the Hadron Collider have made assurances that if the thing makes black holes they will be very, very tiny.
Um, pardon me. Um, that means you might actually create a black hole? Like, really create one? Like, its a possibility? And um, Isn’t the nature of a black hole to get bigger? Like really big? And these things actually eat galaxies? These are the black holes you’re talking about?

There is a legal challenge to stop the Hadron Collider from being used, a last-minute, last chance move from other concerned scientists who say the risks are real.

The Hydron Collider is built by a group called CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research or the Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire . (How do you get CERN out of that? If these scientists can’t spell CERN, should they be driving a Hadron Collider?)

The Hadron Collider is a 27 kilometre long tunnel buried in solid rock beneath Switzerland and France with 1,700 powerful magnets interspaced along it, cooled to near absolute zero to recreate conditions of the beginning of the universe. One particular magnet in the thing will create a magnetic field 100,000 times stronger than Earth’s. That is some magnet. We are talking scientists, those irritating social outcast eggheads you knew in high school, creating a magnet that dwarfs the magnetic field of..the.. planet…Earth.

From there, the the fun begins.
Scientists will unleash protons zipping each way through the 27 kilometre tunnel and let them crash into each other. That’s pretty much what this thing is built for. Crashing protons and hadrons which are, I gather, groups of protons and/or neutrons.
When these teeny tiny subatomic particles crash into each other, all these egghead people you never liked in school will try to take pictures of these subatomic crashes that occur in trillionths of a second.

How do you take a picture of a subatomic crash? Very quickly.

Why do the scientists want these pictures? To figure stuff out.
What kind of stuff do they want to figure out? Well, It’s like this, okay? They are trying to recreate the Big Bang, Well, not the actual Big Bang, but the teeny space of time just after.
The Hadron Collider is sort of like a donut-shaped terrarium. You keep lizard in an aquarium, right? Well, some people do. The scientists want to keep a miniature universe.

Scientists want to know why gravity is weaker than they think it should be and why why we can’t see dark matter and why we have matter at all. An elusive particle called the Higgs Boson particle (aslo called the Holy Grail of Science and the God Particle) may explain why there is mass in the universe. No one has found one yet. CERN might. The Higgs Boson, as part of a Boson Field, may have a property of resistance which prevents other particles from passing through it. Otherwise all particles would just be whizzing through space, none congealing to form stars and planets and pocket pen protectors.
Those are not questions that keeps most of us awake at night, but then, we are not scientists. You might not believe it’s worth creating tiny little black holes for, but then you are not a scientist. We aren’t even as smart as a fifth grader.

The mother of all colliders cranks up September 10.

( I wrote this post several days ago and from then to now have had a grand total of two hits. I thought that odd as I thought the issue was more newsworthy when I wrote it. It’s a story last night and today in all media. I’ve changed the headline, added some tags, and am interested to see where it goes. I guess if you’re looking for hit counts, write about Britney.)

Thank you for reading AardvarkCola


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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence


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