Brian Cox calls 'em like he sees 'em

By Phil Plait | September 7, 2008 7:09 pm

The Large Hadron Collider in Europe will commence smacking protons together inserting protons into the magnetic circulator on Wednesday, September 10 (no protons will be harmed — yet — in the making of this experiment). Thing is, as I’ve noted before, a handful of people with little or no understanding of the science involved claim the LHC might create a black hole or a quantum strangelet which will consume the Earth.

These people are wrong.

They are, however, scaring lots of other people because the press is eager to make controversy where none exists. A couple of crackpots make a ridiculous claim, it involves esoteric physics, a newspaper or online site laps it up… and thousands of people becomes terrified from something that physically cannot happen.

Folks: the LHC is a doorway to the Universe. It will open and we will see wonders we’ve only guessed at so far. It will provide us with physical data into our theories of reality, solidify the blueprints we’ve made into actual edifices.

But it will not, it can not, destroy the Earth.

Brian Cox and me at the Large Hadron Collider.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. My friend Brian Cox, a physicist at CERN (the lab running the LHC), has a lot to say about this. He’s been quoted all over the place (sometimes the media do the right thing), and made himself clear. The people making these claims of doom and gloom are, in his words… well, go read the article where he’s quoted. His words are funny, if somewhat derogatory.

This is coming to a head now that LHC is about to rev up. In that article, it says that some scientists are getting death threats. Death threats! To people who are trying to understand the Universe! These scientists are like you, and they’re like me: they want understand things, to better our knowledge, to increase the human awareness of the entire nature of reality.

And some people want to kill them.

Brian has much to say about this as well. His wife, Gia, has posted on her blog a great letter Brian wrote about this. My favorite part is this:

What I would say is that it is not sensible to hold an opinion in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Whilst I understand that much of the language of particle physics is opaque, there does come a time when it is worth accepting the views of experts. The analogy I would give is the design of aircraft wings – I am happy to trust an expert in aerodynamics to get it right rather than offer my own opinion about what shape they should be. It’s really the case that the particle physics community are sensible, rational human beings who go about their research because they believe that exploring the subatomic world is good for our civilization, not to mention interesting. It is also true that if anyone, including myself, had any doubt about the safety of what we are doing, we would stop immediately. I and all my colleagues consider our personal safety and the safety of our families to be FAR more important than the search for the Higgs particle – indeed, if the risk were even as high as 1 in a billion, or whatever people quote, then I would be campaigning with you to stop it.

This is not some cold, calculating scientist. This is a man who cares deeply about science, about exploration, and about his fellow man. The caricaturization of scientists has contributed to this problem, and I hope that by reading his words, my words, Gia’s words, you’ll see that science is not emotionless and careless.

We do this because we are deeply emotional, deeply caring. The Universe itself is deep. It’s the shallow people who cannot grasp that.

Comments (97)

  1. Davidlpf

    Darn the world won’t end does anyone know what to do with 50,000 lbs of rice.:-)

  2. llewelly

    Folks: the LHC is a doorway to the Universe.

    That’s a pretty clear admission that the LHC will Open Up A Door to another DIMENSION . That other dimension will almost certainly be EVIL . The LHC is a classic example of THINGS MEN WERE NOT MEANT TO KNOW . Once the door is opened, DALEKS will come rolling out, their clarion call of destruction ringing forth the DOOM OF ALL MANKIND!!

  3. The national newspaper in Argentina talked about the LHC and the participation that some Argentinian scientists have there. COINCIDENCE?!?!!?!?

  4. Davidlpf

    Daleks of course I forgot about Daleks, just get a lot of towels to throw over optical sensors.

  5. Ah, Daleks… well, just run up the stairs. You’ll be safe. Oh, wait… the NEW daleks can go up the stairs. We’re seriously screwed.

  6. Davidlpf

    The Daleks had to evolve to go upstairs because the designer wasn’t that intelligent.

  7. Todd W.

    @Davidlpf

    50K lbs of rice? Make lots of sushi?

    @llewelly

    No, it won’y bring Daleks in. It will open up a hole in the Van Allen Belts, allowing the alien overlords from Nibiru to come pouring in and take over the planet.

    But seriously, the world will not be destroyed on Wednesday when they start up the LHC. If the Earth really were going to be destroyed, then the Mayan calendar would have ended in 2008, not 2012. So these protesters should really just relax. They’ve got 4 years, at least.

  8. On the bright side, a planet-eating black hole would solve the problem of the antivaxxers.

  9. Gemini

    @OK
    Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  10. Phil, don’t look now, but I think one of those wires looked rather like the tip of Cthulhu’s tentacles. You know all that science stuff just makes it harder to cling to superstition and fairy tales. We really need to stop learning things and just live in a demon haunted world. ;)

    Man, that even hurt to write!

  11. Davidlpf

    Well at least science is the candle in the dark.

  12. Davidlpf

    Maybe when the wormhole opens up we can make Contact with someone else in the cosmos, but some peoples Brocas brains just can not handle we are just on a pale blue dot.

  13. Another article that came out:

    http://podblack.com/?p=888 – the Radio Times.

  14. JScarry

    I’m sure the Brits know, but I haven’t a clue. What exactly are “t—”s.

  15. Gary Ansorge

    I once sat down and calculated the approximate size of a micro black hole, generated by the LHC,,,it was at least 10,000 times smaller than a proton. Even if it was stable and set about eating it’s fill, since matter is 99.999 percent empty space, the probability it could even FIND an atom to munch on is pretty slim and it would take a rediculously long time to even eat a hydrogen atom.

    Just thought Y’All might like that reassurance, since you seem a mite concerned,,,

    ,,,oops, wrong Blog,,,

    ,,,never mind,,,

    GAry 7

  16. Michael Campbell

    Brian Cox is wonderful and spot on with his words. Thanks, Phil, for giving this some (more) visibility.

    The only thing missing was the obligatory mention of how you have a crush on HIS wife too.

  17. JScarry

    Ummm, I’m not sure how to tell you this… OK, you’ve heard of the birds and the bees? Well, it’s like this… When a mommy and daddy love each other, or get really h____y, ummmm, yeah well, ahh it’s like that, see. And the thing that Brian Cox said… well, that’s a term for the thing where babies come out of.

  18. kuhnigget

    I suppose I’m the only one who thinks Brian Cox is, um, significantly cute?

  19. Bubbaj

    Just in case Phil, I gonna wear my bike helmet and a jock! ‘Cause I don’t wanna get bang’d around when going through the event horizon(if we should suffer such a travesty)!!!

  20. @kuhnigget:

    That would be correct.

  21. Australians may be interested to know that Brian Cox will be interviewed on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton tonight on the ABC at 9.30pm.
    “Physicist Brian Cox explains the machine that could end the world…”

  22. Daniel

    Maybe they can mass produce micro black holes. You can have your own pet. Dont like the dog across the street, send your micro black hole after him…Sure to be hours of fun.

  23. uands

    “We do this because we are deeply emotional, deeply caring. The Universe itself is deep. It’s the shallow people who cannot grasp that.”

    I agree, a basic physics book has more secrets and beauty then all the paintings in the world combined, but yet the shallow people walk around bestowing praise on canvases with a few colorful squiggles that took some painter came up with after a couple hours of drug induced hallucinations and think they are deep.

  24. Spacehamster

    News items like these make me want to cave my skull in with the butt of an axe. I recall on an Australian news website, that an article on this issue received 52 ignorant comments claiming that the world was about to end. This is what over a decade of failing to provide funding to scientific education does to a country. Ignorance might be bliss, but it gives me a splitting headache.

  25. I’m not worried. I’ve got duct tape!

  26. kuhnigget

    @ Spacehamster:

    Ah, the joys of living in a country in which ignorance has been promoted to the same level as reason. It seems we are surrounded by a growing culture that equates belief with fact and eschews evidence for opinion.

    And why? To justify the most inane government policies since the 18th century? To keep the peeps ignorant and happy? Because thinking is hard and not thinking is easy? To maintain a steady population of unquestioning consumers?

    I wish I knew why stupid crap like end of the world looniness, UFO nuttiness, and Jeebus-in-a-CheesyPoof is so popular. The real stuff is so much more interesting.

  27. @kuhnigget:
    Let’s check with Michelle and see what she says ’bout that. I wouldn’t know, meselves… ;-D

    If I was Brian I’d try to arrange some police protection for a couple weeks. At least till the initial fearmongering blows over… There’s no way these death threats should slow down progress. I keep having flashbacks to “Contact” and the religious nutjob in the first part of the film…
    Rich

  28. JRice

    Dr. Plait*:

    Is it true that they will start “smacking protons together” this week?

    I was under the impression that, this week, they would just be turning on a single stream. No smacking involved.

    Am I wrong?

    * In the event this comment shows up twice, I apologize for the typo in the first!

  29. Dave Hall

    You FOOLS, OF course the Large Hadrone Collidor will spell the end of the World !1!1!1!1!By defying the laws of Y_WE H and Nature, the “Scientists” –so-called –will open the EARTH to another dimension, one once before visited by Tesla and Lovecraft just before they disappeared –and alluded to in their writings.
    If those scientists –so called– start up their infernal machine , there will be hell to pay. Literally! And I do mean literaly! The SOVIETS narrowly missed this doom whan they tried to defy Y_WEH’s and Nature’s laws and drill a HOLE to the CENTER of the EARTH, and they were fortunate because they only heard the sounds of HELL, and the Hole was too small for Lucifer and his Daemons to excape!!!!! Well the Large Hadrone Collider is Quantum leaps more dangerous !1 !1 ! If those scientists –so -called– attempt to start that INVERNAL MACHINE it will open a rip in the SPACE-TIME Continuum that will make the Pyramid force field hole that Tesla released in 1933 seem puny by Comparison!!!!
    I have contacted the authorities with this dire warning and they are turning deaf ears and eyes to this inpending catasrtophie! The Large Hadrone Collidder must not be allowed to start!!

  30. JRice, my mistake. I saw just now that they will be inserting protons in the accelerator to circulate them, but the collisions won’t start for some weeks yet. I corrected the text.

  31. Dave Hall:

    Been reading Weekly World News recently?
    ;)

    J/P=?

  32. Davidlpf

    @ John Paradox lets us all hope that is reason for Dave halls post.

  33. RBH

    With reference to Cox’s comments and letter, see Massimo Pigliucci’s post Intellectual arrogance. A short extract:

    Intellectual arrogance, in the utmost degree, is being displayed by those who dismiss out of hand the considerate opinion of someone who has studied a field for 25 years only because they cherish a particular religious worldview that has no independent foundation in reality. Arrogance, according to my dictionary, is “having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities,” and it seems to me to fit perfectly someone who has no technical background in a given field and yet pontificates endlessly about what is True and what is not.

    And

    It is time to reverse the tide and take a stand. If you reject the theory of evolution, or think that there is such a thing as alternative (as opposed to evidence-based) medicine, or claim without evidence that aliens are visiting the planet, or think that the stars influence human destiny, and so on, you are anti-science and live in a dream world with no connection to reality. More damning, you are engaging in the ultimate act of arrogance: to declare something true or untrue not because you have reason or evidence, but only because it makes you feel better. May I suggest that you need a good dose of humility, and that one way to get it is to admit that the universe is not about you, and that some people out there really know more than you do, as unpleasant a thought as this may be?

    As noted above, recently ignorance has been elevated to the same status as knowledge (at least in the mass media), and the country (and world) is the worse for it.

  34. @Daniel:

    Hmmm, I can think of a few places I’d send my mini black hole to. Hey, I wonder if they’ll be as good as those Mini-Donuts you get at the Fairgrounds? Covered in sugar…

  35. @Richard:
    My thoughts exactly, since I just saw Contact again. You’d think that the religious nut jobs would be all for this – after all, it will bring about the end of the world and the rapture! Oh, wait… they want to annihilate a billion Muslims in Mushroom clouds. My mistake.

  36. Davidlpf

    Wouldn’t a large group of protons be a plasma or a gas.
    (Davidlpf now runs and hides)

  37. PJE

    Is Dave Hall’s post a joke, or is he serious? I don’t read enough comments on this blog to tell…

    Pete

  38. Wouldn’t a large group of protons be a plasma or a gas
    What? You don’t think it is more than a coincidence that they’re all streaming in the one direction… definitely plasma.

  39. madge

    The BBC News site has a really good intro to the LHC here

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7543089.stm

    Brian(swoon)Cox is absolutely right these people are T**ts (as George Carlin said “t**ts t**t and that’s that”)They will quieten down is a week or two when we are all still here and then they will move onto the next i-madge-inary threat to the planet.

  40. PJE:

    I think it’s safe to assume Dave was joking… at least I hope so.

  41. Gia

    Thanks for this, Phil! When you read ‘death threats’, you could just think that they have been getting normal, everyday abusive emails from nutters of the kind Dawkins read out on his Darwin programme recently (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMHQhPUzfPg). Whilst that is indeed happening, I’ve been told there is at least one person who has been issued with a restraining order against him due to his extreme threats and CERN is having to pay for extra security… So it’s all serious enough to have actually taken action to protect physicists.

    @kuhnigget I’m with you on the cute thing. ;)

  42. But, could the LHC possibly create a Doctor Manhattan? It’s worth considering before we switch it on, isn’t it? That we may possibly create a blue guy who could manipulate matter anyway he wants to, completely destabilizing the political structure of the world.

    Think about it.
    ;)

  43. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Well, the obvious response to nutters threats is to unite – I propose the particle colliders of the world should do just that.

    … what’s that, they already did that, and the result was LHC? Bummer.

    [Retreats to web dungeon to come up with new tactics against nuts with physics envy.]

    a term for the thing where babies come out of

    I find the idea of censoring four letter words fascinatingly cute and fearsomely naive, but also irritating. I tentatively pegged that as something else.

    I mean, how do you know for sure how offending a person is, if he/she is censored? :-P

  44. Overstroming

    A twat is coarse slang for a stupid or unpleasant person (OED), rarely used in a biological sense. For example, a person who wore a baseball cap and a safety helmet simultaneously on the same head in an industrial area might accurately be referred to as a twat. (Not really unpleasant, just stupid)

  45. Overstroming

    Oops, there was supposed to be a smiley at the end of that, now I’m the unpleasant twat!

  46. Gareth

    No, Phil, you’re wrong. Look:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1053091/Meet-Evans-Atom-end-world-Wednesday.html

    (Ret.) Professor Otto Rossler says that nothing will happen for at least four years, when all hell will break loose and we’ll all die. He MUST be right! In four years time, it will be nearing December 23rd 2012. The Mayans were right! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Run for the hills, people!

    The world is going to blow up, and it’s going to be caused by a Welshman. Cool. ;o)

  47. @Overstroming:

    I’ve heard it used the other way too… :)

  48. On Saturday night I watched ‘The Big Bang Machine’, a documentary on BBC4 presented by Brian. In it he gave an excellent explanation of the of the LHC experiments and dispelled the myths that the experiments would destroy the Earth.

    One criticism for me however was his use of religious language, which I assume was for the purposes of explaining the experiments in layman’s terms. In the context of the LHC recreating the conditions a billionth of the second after the Big Bang, he refered to it as ‘staring at the face of God’, and also used the famous terms ‘God Particle’ to describe the Higg’s Boson. I think there were other religious references too, which I can’t recall.

    It seems to me that you can’t get away with using these sorts of metaphors without some delusioned religious viewers getting upset and complaining about it. Furthermore it just seems a bit odd for a scientist to use this sort of language in the first place.

  49. I am SO jealous that you got to see the LHC! I’ve been following this stuff for a while since about last year and I’m super excited to see what answers they get out of this experiment! :D

  50. Hugh

    Apologies if this comes up twice….

    For anyone in the UK (I don’t think the BBC iPlayer is available outside), I’d highly recommend watching The Big Bang Machine, all about the LHC, and presented by Prof. Cox himself.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00dccnr/

    For those of you outside the UK, it appears that you can also find it on youtube if you search for it….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHs7hu9hgKc

  51. BobbyEarle

    The world isn’t going to end?

    Rats, now I have to get all of my stuff back…

  52. Ad Hominid

    Im my shiny new novel (which I will not name here because a. it is not out yet b. I have not paid Phil for an ad), the background includes the discovery of faster-than-light travel as a consequence of research done on a Chinese analog of the defunct Superconducting Super Collider.

    This naturally leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington and a very real threat of necktie parties for certain high-profile luddites who let the greatest discovery of all time slip through American fingers.

    How exactly does the SSC lead to FTL? If I knew that in any detail, I would publish it and win the Nobel Prize.

  53. This article is not good journalism in my opinion.

    The issue is about credibility, I argue CERN’s credibility is lacking.

    CERN directs its own scientists to not discuss risk probabilities and arrogantly denigrates the credibility of the opposition.

    Who are some of the more notable concerned scientists?

    Visiting professor of Physics Dr. Rossler is famous for his contributions to Chaos theory and founding of Endophysics.

    Senior Physics PHD Dr. Rainer Plaga also wrote a paper concluding CERN has failed to prove safety. Dr. Plaga proposes CERN SLOW DOWN and implement feasible risk reduction methods.

    Former cosmic ray researcher, California math champion and Nuclear Safety Officer Walter L. Wagner discovered flaws with CERN’s safety arguments. He calculates stable strange matter creation (particularly from Lead Lead collisions) and dangerous micro black hole creation has not been excluded and might as likely prove catastrophic.

    Am I concerned. Yes.

    Do I think CERN is arrogant, reckless and misrepresents safety. Yes.

    LHCFacts.org

  54. That was beautifully well said.

  55. Thomas Siefert

    I’ll trust anyone who knows how to wear a hard hat, which puts Brian Cox high up on my list and I’m afraid to say, BA very low… :-)

  56. H.C.

    The text from Brian is typically the kind of text making people anxious. It is a bad text. He talks about trusting wings of an airplane, he should talk about sending his kids with the maiden flight of an untested airplane, that has only proven its airworthyness on computer. That’s closer to what’s on hand here. People know that stuff happens – even a simple mechanical thing as a space shuttle fails. So, trusting an expert is often because you have no choice, otherwise you wouldn’t trust what you don’t grasp. Also, saying “It is also true that if anyone, including myself, had any doubt about the safety of what we are doing, we would stop immediately” is contrary to what people experience : if a project is expensive enough (like e.g. invading a country) then whatever people say, the project goes ahead. That’s how society works. Those errors in a text that wants to convince without using physics, make things worse, I think. En voor wie problemen heeft met mijn engels – mijn fout niet dat jullie maar een of twee talen kennen. ;-)

  57. Tom

    Am I the only one here who’s ever seen a sc-fi horror film?

    Ok, maybe not the end of the world, but there’s OBVIOUSLY gonna be monsters!!!

  58. madge

    BBC has another great article about LHC and “the end of the world as we know it” BS

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7600966.stm
    :)

  59. RL

    I was reading another article about the LHC this morning from a British paper. It was addressing the concerns of other scientists about the safety of the LHC. (It was interesting to note that the scientist quoted was a chemist, not a physicist. I’m neither but I not sure a chemist would have the necesary knowledge on this matter. But I digress.) The chemist moved the goal posts. He predicts that the world will not end right away, but it will take years. The newly formed quasar inside the earth will cause all sorts of tsunamis and earthquakes and other events that are unexplainable…etc. So, I expect to see:
    1. The LHC will become operational and the world will not end.
    2. LHC proponents will say, “See, the world did not end.”
    3. LHC conspiracy believers will say, “Just wait…we didn’t say the world will end today – it could take years”
    4. Every earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, etc will be blamed on the LHC.
    5. This “conspiracy” will be around for years. Mayve the Mythbusters could do a show on it.

  60. kuhnigget

    @RL:

    Or, the world did end, but the LHC created an alternate earth, which we now inhabit, unaware that our old earth has been pulverized in the gaping maw of a…er….mini-black hole.

    @H.C.:

    Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër? See die majestyk møøse?

  61. I am wondering if anyone will follow through on these threats.

    The problem is, “Trust me I’m a doctor” syndrome. We are asked to trust scientists, but the general public know they can get things wrong. Remember thamidilide anyone?

    Even if they are right on this, and that is what the science says, the people have been frightened. Go to newspapers that allow comments on this story, and see the fear. Ignorant and uninformed comments maybe, but still full of angst.

    Remember the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling, and the line

    “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;”

    It seems according to some people’s perception, that some scientists across as arrogant and never address that second line.

    Yhis is an issue we need to address to get the message across, and silence the doom merchants.

  62. PHIL: Last night I stumbled across a program on The Science Channel called “What on Earth is Wrong with Gravity?” It featured your pal Brian Cox. Absolutely fascinating viewing, and I enjoyed how Brian would wax poetic about gravity, the LHC, and the earliest moments of the Universe.

  63. Overstroming

    H.C. Uw Engels is prima maar mijn nederlands niet so goed is. U staat en goed puntje over het vliegtuig ;-)

  64. Gary Ansorge

    What part of ” a (stable) Micro black hole would take fraking forever to eat ANYTHING” escapes these people. In my previous post, I posited a 10,000 to one reduction in diameter for the size of the black hole, in comparison to the diameter of a proton. That was WRONG. It would actually be more like a TEN MILLION to one reduction, as in, a black hole with the mass of planet Earth would be only about a meter in diameter. Sorry if I misled anyone,,,

    If Steven Hawking is wrong about micro black holes evaporating, then the basis of quantum mechanics must also be wrong and none of our wonderous toys that depend on quantum mechanics would function. Since they obviously DO function, (Hey, I’m communicating with one such device), our understanding of the laws governing quantum mechanics must be pretty nearly spot on.

    People LOVE to be scared. It makes life exciting. I so pity people who can’t get their excitement by skiing down a mountain at 60 mph. Or observing the natural, chaotic universe around us,,,
    ,,,they are SUCH children,,,
    ,,,and how do you reassure children?

    Some do it by telling fairy tales,,,

    Gary 7

  65. schism

    I hate to say this, being a fan, but I have to wonder whether science fiction has contributed to the “damn the world for the sake of research” concept of science. Granted, the mad scientist antagonist isn’t as common these days, but, off the top of my head, but I can still think of two general-release movies featuring one just in the past decade (Spiderman 2 and Bats).

    Granted, this is entertainment (and often goofy stuff at that), but the combination of repetition with a lack of actual facts and/or common sense seems pretty damaging to me. Of course, you could say that about anything.

  66. Quiet Desperation

    These scientists are like you

    Like me? Holy crap! SHUT IT DOWN!!!!

  67. Todd W.

    @Tom

    “Ok, maybe not the end of the world, but there’s OBVIOUSLY gonna be monsters!!!”

    Hmm. The LHC will give off oodles of radiation, transforming the scientists working on the project into either monsters or superheroes/supervillains. Good conjecture.

  68. Gary, you’re admitting to an error wrong by 1000 times? What if the real scientists get it wrong… Oh noes weez iz doooooomed… or not. Carry on.

    Funnily enough we’re not getting as many… how do I phrase this politely… concerned citizens here as the last few times the LHC was brought up. Have they already gone for their secluded mountain hideouts?

  69. TheBlackCat

    Funnily enough we’re not getting as many… how do I phrase this politely… concerned citizens here as the last few times the LHC was brought up. Have they already gone for their secluded mountain hideouts?

    No, the secret demonic Illuminati conspiracy that is trying to summon the Old Ones has been slowly eliminating them.

  70. Ginger Yellow

    “Last night I stumbled across a program on The Science Channel called “What on Earth is Wrong with Gravity?” It featured your pal Brian Cox. Absolutely fascinating viewing, and I enjoyed how Brian would wax poetic about gravity, the LHC, and the earliest moments of the Universe.”

    It ws indeed fascinating. Without a doubt the best episode of Horizon in many years. That’s how the BBC should do all (well, most anyway) of its science programmes – have enthusiastic, preferably telegenic scientists talk about their own work and why it’s interesting, rather than trying to force a populist/sensationalist angle on to the material. To be fair, they’ve been doing more of this recently, with several excellent documentaries by Jim Al-Khalili and Brian Cox, but most of the Beeb’s science output is terrible.

  71. Well, I’m not sure what to believe… About a year ago, wasn’t there some Russian scientists going on about how the LHC could actually become a time machine, ripping open a portal in time, and that would allow time travellers from the future to come back.

    Now, it’s the end of the world. Hmmm… Too many choices. I think I’m going to go with… Nothing is going to happen, that way if it does, I’ll be pleasantly surprised and have something to blog about the next day!

  72. Nick

    Besides, even if something weird does happen when they run the experiments, they already have the right guy to deal with the problem on site… http://i38.tinypic.com/4memt.jpg

  73. MikeInLondon

    I see where the problem is.

    Dave Hall is right. The end of the world will be brought about by the Large Hadrone Collider. The Large Hadron Collider however is OK. So let’s all promise not collide those Hadrones.

    All these people scared because of a typo with the killer Hadrones.

  74. Dave Hall

    PJE Says:
    Is Dave Hall’s post a joke, or is he serious? I don’t read enough comments on this blog to tell…

    Pete: Thats OK, most people don’t know–and that includes me.

    Seriously, I figured what fun is a post about nutters going on about the LHC without a nutter going on about it?

    Sooo–I took the tin foil out of my hat and Voila! One nutter going on about the LHC. Another case of Fudd’s First Law of Opposition in action.

    I am sane–mostly.

    Tom Says:
    Am I the only one here who’s ever seen a sc-fi horror film?
    Ok, maybe not the end of the world, but there’s OBVIOUSLY gonna be monsters!!!

    OH, I hope so! We haven’t had many really good monsters since the Atomic Ants invaded the LA storm drains, and Godzilla kicked some Tokyo Tushie!

  75. “A twat is coarse slang for a stupid or unpleasant person (OED), rarely used in a biological sense. For example, a person who wore a baseball cap and a safety helmet simultaneously on the same head in an industrial area might accurately be referred to as a twat. (Not really unpleasant, just stupid)”

    Radio Times are probably self-censoring, due to some recent silly business at Random House.

  76. Bo Babbyo

    I don’t have the qualifications to question those who assure us that the collider and its undertakings will be safe. But the situation does sort of remind me of a line from comedian Emo Phillips: “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” Also reminds me a little of the White Hunters who pooh-pooh Tarzan’s advice. And y’know — those moms who took thalidomide for morning sickness didn’t think it up on their own. Some expert told them it was a good idea. And somebody who knew what he was doing signed off on the design for the Kansas City Hyatt skywalks. And what about all those doctors who recommended Camel cigarettes? And what kind of doom & gloomer wants to scrub a shuttle launch because of a little cold weather? Anyway, if our time-space continuum slips out existence, in those last moments, along with the guy saying, “Obviously a major malfunction,” you’ll hear me saying I told you so.

  77. Hugo

    I think Sam Neill said something like, “The LHC is a doorway to the Universe. It will open and we will see wonders we’ve only guessed at so far.” in ‘Event Horizon’, somewhere between gouging out his eyes and saying, “Do you see?!?!” to Morpheus…

  78. RL said “I was reading another article about the LHC this morning from a British paper. It was addressing the concerns of other scientists about the safety of the LHC. (It was interesting to note that the scientist quoted was a chemist, not a physicist.)”

    That’s an important point to note. Not a single particle physicist has raised a concern. There are exactly two scientists total that have, neither with any expertise in the field. Each presented calculations that contained very fundamental errors. The “chemist” is extremely eccentric, to put it mildly.

    I’ve written about the issue and especially the opposition scientists in a post called “Large Hadron Collider: What’s the Risk?”

  79. I really enjoyed the videos of Brian Cox explaining the LHC. He was able to explain the LHC and what it is going to do in layman’s terms. Science needs more people like this, people who can take difficult concepts and explain them to the masses in a way they can understand. Brian Cox, Phil Plait, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and I’m sure there are others do an excellent job of this. Good work. Keep up the good work Phil!

  80. Dave

    It’s my birthday tomorrow. The LHC turning on on my birthday is pretty cool. If it destroys earth then…well that’s kind of cool also.

  81. StevoR

    Dave Said September 9th, 2008 at 2:53 pm :

    “It’s my birthday tomorrow. The LHC turning on on my birthday is pretty cool. If it destroys earth then…well that’s kind of cool also.”

    You’ve got an odd idea of what constitutes “cool” then.

    The destruction of everyone on the planet – the destruction of the Earth itself would be a real bummer if you ask me. :-(

    Now I don’t think that’ll happen with the LHC – I certainly hope not.

    But I don’t like them taking even the smallest chance where
    destroying everything and everyone on the face of the globe is concerned. :-(

    Quasars and the first billionth of a second post Big Bang are fascinating areas of study. But the downside is they’re impossible conditions to survive – & I don’t want Earth becoming them! Observe them sure but let’s be a bit more careful before we recreate them! ;-)
    As for thetehicals

  82. StevoR

    Brian Cox wrote :

    “It is also true that if anyone, . including myself, had any doubt about the safety of what we are doing, we would stop immediately.”

    Well then you’d better stop immediately. As I’ve noted above and as I’m sure you’ve heard a hell of a lot of other people have strong doubts over the safety of what your doing. I’m anyone & so the many, many other people who are worried about the LHC.

  83. SteveoR, let me be the first to say, with no malice, we told you so.

    When he said anyone I think he meant anyone who had a clue.

  84. Michael

    JScarry,

    “What exactly are “t—”s?”

    They’re the things that cox fit into.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

  85. vivs

    Was I transported into a parallel universe at 09h30 or will the doomsday crackpots admit they were wrong? Mmmm which is the more unlikely?

  86. jesse james

    the super collider is stupid,and a huge waste of time and money.i just watched a show with these idiots cheering because they just saw a blip on a screen.it does nothing that will benefit mankind at all.well it does prove one thing, science expiriments that cost billions while people are starving, are bad ideas.the space program,is a waste as well, but at least we learned how to launch sattelites to spy on eachother,and missles to kill eachother.the more we think we know, the less we really do.do we need to waste time and money.i am extatic that our government did not fall into the useless collider trap we need to concern ourselves with innovations that make our world better,safer,let’s not concern ourselves with billion dollar race tracks for atoms to just see what might happen.

  87. Ruffmuthuh

    Put a bag of popping corn on the kitchen counter. When it pops itself, we will know we have been hit with a heavy shot of gamma rays, neutrons or some muon/quark generated by the LHC. Expect mutations. Probably the turning point for humanity’s evolution to our next level of existence as batlike sapsuckers.

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