Wednesday 10 September 2008

Large Hadron Collider Starts

The Large Hadron Collider has been started today amid a huge press-feast at the CERN laboratory on the border of France and Switzerland. This included a live webcast that I watched. I wrote an article about the Large Hadron Collider a few months ago. Read it for background: , but bear in mind that I have amended my views a bit since then. They call this the official "start-up" of the LHC, but in fact there is not one single moment when you can say: "this is the start-up". It's not like turning the key in a car ignition. This is just the milestone that CERN has decided to make the media-fest launch moment! The first clockwise beam was slowly passed through all the 8 waypoints on the 16 mile underground torus. However, not as slowly as was originally planned; the scientists directing the start-up seemed almost in a rush to get it done. It was as if somebody had rumbled a secret scam of theirs. The project has cost US$6 billion, enough to rebuild the JR Hospital almost three times over!

What will happen now? Well despite all the media's flurrious remarks, the world will not end today! We won't meet any future time-travellers this morning either! The beams may be circulating now, but it will be a month or two before they have been fine-tuned enough to allow the first low-power collisions to take place. It will be many more months, at least, until the LHC will be brought up to full power, what Wagner and Rossler etc consider the dangerous power range when black holes, monopoles and strangelets might be produced (Some say this will be first achieved in the fateful period of late 2012!) But the truth is: with the LHC we are playing with matches. What might we see when the foundations of the universe are laid bare? To quote Uncle Andrew from CS Lewis’ Narnia book The Magician's Nephew: “Anything! Absolutely anything!” The movie The Mist is very good . It's a frightening horror movie, based on a Stephen King story, about a thick mist that descends on a small seaside town. Horrid monsters appear in the mist that attack the people living there and the survivors have to take refuge in a supermarket. It turns out later in the film that a nearby government laboratory has been doing experiments to create a "Stargate" to a parallel dimension. And remember what Uncle Andrew said about parallel dimensions!

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