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Atom Smashers and Anti-Science

I was reading this recent article on MSN (even though I don’t count it as a reliable news source) about the LHC when I came across this paragraph…

The strange case of the planet-eating black hole serves as just one example showing how grand scientific projects can lead to a collision between science fiction and science fact. The hubbub also has led some to question why billions of dollars are being spent on a physics experiment so removed from everyday life.

Because, you know, electricity is so far removed from everyday life and there’s not real practical application for that at all…

But, curiosity-driven-research-leads-to-practical-knowledge stuff aside (and the article does talk about practical applications of atom smashers), it led me to think about something else on another level. What if the Large Hadron Collider lead to proof of, say, M Theory, that might give us answers to certain long held philosophical/religious questions like “how does the universe work?” or “where did the universe come from in the first place?”

Yet, when it comes to myths which people happen to follow religiously nobody says “why do people spend their Sunday mornings and so many hours every week doing something so far removed from the necessities of everyday life?”

Just an interesting thought there… I wonder if Answers in Genesis ever gets e-mails asking them why they bother with origins of life, something “so far removed from everyday life.”

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elles the vampire slayer

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5 Comments

  1. w_nightshade
    September 11, 2008 at 10:33 am —

    Hear hear, Elles.

  2. FFFearlesss
    September 12, 2008 at 8:21 am —

    Funny freakin’ site you should check out: http://www.hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/

  3. September 12, 2008 at 3:56 pm —

    I am just about sick hearing about the LHC end of the world crap. Whoever made this up should be shot around the LHC and be turned into a soup of quarks, neurinos, and bosons.

  4. September 13, 2008 at 1:37 pm —

    Well, some people carry on about how the Large Hadron Collider is so expensive, and that it’s a waste of money. To them, I say this.

    The $845 billion USD cost of the Iraq war (just the direct cost!) would be enough to buy three Large Hadron Colliders, in every state of the US.

    And these are the people that canceled the Superconducting Supercollider because it was too expensive.

    If we’d put that money into nuclear fusion reactors, we could probably have done away with all demand for fossil fuels in the United States, forever.

    What do we get out of particle physics, anyway?

    Grid Computing, the World Wide Web, nuclear medical imaging, PET, gamma cameras for medicine – you know, stuff like that.

    And now, just this evening, I read that the physicists who built the ultra-minature, high density arrays of bespoke microelectronics that are used to read data out from the silicon pixel detectors in ATLAS have turned their talents to a different kind of detector – a chip that can read out data from living retinal tissue.

    http://atlasexperiment.org/news/2008/possible-solutions-for-blindness.html

    Now that’s a really cool example of the really cool spinoffs that come from this really cool technology.

    As far as supposed black hole doomsday is concerned – how ridiculous. In fact, if a microscopic black hole is observed inside ATLAS or CMS, it will represent perhaps the most incredible kind of thing we could hope to get out of the LHC experiments – incredible insights into cutting edge physics beyond the standard model.

    I’m going to make a shameless plug for my own writing here – but I wrote a bit of an essay for everyone, about what these black holes would really mean: http://minerva.splcrew.net/blackhole.pdf I hope you find it educational.

  5. September 14, 2008 at 5:43 am —

    Ah, we love Elles 🙂

    Seriously, I was 6th form college on the day the LHC was turned on, and I have never heard so much talk about science — it was all, of course, and sadly, in the vein of “scientists are meddling with stuff and we’re all going to die”, and “why spend so much money on that when they could be curing cancer?” which was a shame 🙁

    And the only way they got these ridiculous ideas was through the media — even the BBC was saying “a number of scientists believe it will cause black holes to…”

    Oh well. Nice article.

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