The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Large Hadron Collider Breaks High-Energy Physics Record… Earth Survives

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 20, 2010

**Addendum (3/22/2010): Shortly after I wrote the post below, it came to my attention that the proton-proton beams in the LHC haven’t yet actually collided at the 3.5 TeV level yet, but I think that point is moot. It’s also true that the LHC has already conducted proton-proton collisions at greater than TeV levels (up to about 2.36 TeV, it seems)…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider#Current_results

And despite this fact, we’re all still here. Of course, I expect the scare mongers to come back with something like “But we don’t know that the planet won’t be destroyed at the next energy level!” By that same token, we don’t know that the Earth won’t be destroyed if we don’t turn the damn thing on, right?

Arguments from ignorance can be used in such silly ways. ‘Nuff said.

—————————————————————————————

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest, most complicated piece of machinery ever created by humanity.  This humongous particle accelerator also just recently broke, once again, the world record for achieving the highest-energy artificial particle collisions ever in history.  Of course, there are some conspiracy-minded scare mongers out there who maintain that the LHC is going to somehow destroy the Earth, presumably because – despite multiple reasons to the contrary – there will be some unknown, magical mechanism by which these artificially-achieved energy levels will kill us all.  In short, with no evidence or coherent theory of physics behind their claims, they’re making an argument from ignorance & saying this…

I think not – it didn’t happen in May 2008, and it won’t happen now.  As I said, the LHC recently broke that supposedly world-ending energy barrier once again, and we’re all still here.  The news is outlined in this Yahoo News story…

Operators of the world’s largest atom smasher on Friday ramped up their massive machine to three times the energy ever previously achieved, in the run-up to experiments probing the secrets of the universe.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said beams of protons circulated at 3.5 trillion electron volts in both directions around the 27-kilometer (17-mile) tunnel housing the Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border at Geneva.

The next major development is expected in a few days when CERN starts colliding the beams in a new round of research to examine the tiniest particles and forces within the atom in hopes of finding out more about how matter is made up.

The collider in December had already eclipsed the record of the next most powerful machine, the Tevatron at Fermilab outside Chicago, which has been running just shy of a trillion electron volts, or TeV.

The extra energy in Geneva is expected to reveal even more about the unanswered questions of particle physics , such as the existence of dark energy and matter. Scientists hope also to approach on a tiny scale what happened in the first split seconds after the Big Bang, which they theorize was the creation of the universe some 14 billion years ago.

CERN has reported a series of successes since the collider was restarted last year after 14 months of repairs and improvements following a spectacular failure when scientists initially tried to get the machine going.

CERN improved the machine during a 2 1/2-month winter shutdown to be able to operate at the higher energy .

“Getting the beams to 3.5 TeV is testimony to the soundness of the LHC’s overall design, and the improvements we’ve made since the breakdown in September 2008,” said Steve Myers, CERN’s director for accelerators and technology.

It’ll be interesting to see how the scare mongering pseudoscientists rationalize away this one, but I’m sure they’ll find some way to do it.

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10 Responses to “Large Hadron Collider Breaks High-Energy Physics Record… Earth Survives”

  1. Walter B Wagner said

    Actually they have not collided the beams yet at this high energies, or am i wrong?

    • mattusmaximus said

      Walter B. Wagner said:

      Actually they have not collided the beams yet at this high energies, or am i wrong?

      Yes, that is true – there haven’t yet been any collisions at these 3.5 TeV energy levels, but I think that point is moot. It’s also true that the LHC has already conducted proton-proton collisions at greater than TeV levels (up to about 2.36 TeV, in fact)…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider#Current_results

      And despite this fact, we’re all still here. Of course, I expect the scare mongers to come back with something like “But we don’t know that the planet won’t be destroyed at the next energy level!” By that same token, we don’t know that the Earth won’t be destroyed if we don’t turn the damn thing on, right?

      Arguments from ignorance can be used in such silly ways. ‘Nuff said.

  2. […] by mattusmaximus on March 30, 2010 As a quick follow up to my recent post about the Large Hadron Collider, there is a new development: the LHC has now actually collided […]

  3. Yay Science said

    Oh noes, scientists are trying to play Gawd! Stops them with scare tactics!

  4. Trenton D. Adams said

    Apparently, the energy levels output of each individual collision are that of two mosquitos colliding. Not really going to create any mass explosions any time soon

  5. The lei this news and I’m the haunting idea if this type of machine that works by creating a lot of energy can not be used in future as a model for energy in large quantities or small.

  6. Victoria Ong said

    I think that this is insane, and could end our exsistance. How egotistical can you be? Your looking for the answers of the Universe? You will probably never discover them, and if you do, you will still not be satisfied. Gaurenteed, an Nobel Prize will not be achieved in death. You can play god, but nothing good will come of it.

  7. Victoria Ong said

    Oh, and for the Parigraph above the picture. There is evidence in theory that it could create a black hole. Find the court documents for the 2 scientist that are trying to put this machine out of commision through the courts. Ya, it’s true that we will never see it coming, but that still does not make it right.

    • mattusmaximus said

      I’m a physics professor, and I’ve analyzed the physics. Quite simply, for the reasons outlined in my multiple blog posts on the subject, the “scientists” who claim the LHC will create an Earth-destroying black hole are morons.

  8. […] thanks: an amusing blog called The Skeptical Teacher, whence came the show […]

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