Still here?

By Phil Plait | September 10, 2008 9:30 am

Still here?

Earth: still here?

Yeah, still here. Told ya.

And National Geographic? Shame on you.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Cool stuff, Humor, Science
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Comments (135)

  1. sam

    I think the LHC switched everyone with their bizarro self.

  2. Eric I.

    Hmm, something is strange here. That picture of the Earth is from the 70s! What’s wrong? Couldn’t find a recent picture? That’s because it’s been destroyed! >_> <__>

  3. madge

    I just checked and as far as I can tell (not being an expert you understand) I am still here.
    Dippy egg…..CHECK
    Toast soldiers…..CHECK
    Cuppa Tea…..CHECK
    Confirmation received…..All is right with the world
    :)

  4. stopgap

    I thought they were going to start the collisions in late October.

  5. Lee Hadley

    I’m probably breaching some copywright laws or something but I had to set your “Note:Still Here” picture as my work PC’s background. Surrounded by doomsayers and perveyors of antiscience and I’m enjoying having the last laugh (so to speak) yet again.

  6. Jeeze, I put my pants back on for nuthin’. *Re-assumes anonymous pants-off intertoob mode*

  7. Todd W.

    Wow. That NatGeo article seems, how shall I say this, minorly out of touch with what actual particle physicists are saying.

  8. Aww, man. People are still using MS Paint.

    Yeah, I guess we’re still around.

  9. George Kopeliadis

    National Geographic better stay with lions and ice melting …
    or hire a Physics gratuate :)

  10. schism

    Yeah, still here.

    Well, of course we’re still here. The whole point of the LHC is to give birth to the Antichrist, not destroy the planet before Satan can take it over. Geez, pay attention, will you?

  11. But, Phil, you now know what the ‘inside’ of a black hole is REALLY like! Seems to be about the same as where I was yesterday…. 😉

  12. Robbie

    I don’t think there’s any shame in the National Geographic posting the article talking about the “controversy” and debunking it at the same time. Calm down, Phil.

  13. Ted H.

    Doomsayers moving goalposts in 5…4…3….

  14. StevoR

    Still here? Well yes but just for a little while – I’m about to go to bed and get some much needed sleep – I have to work tomorrow! Its early morn where I live. 😉

    —–
    Oh & Chris A if you’re about – I’ve responded to your anti-Plutonean ad hominam rant at me on the Xkd cartoon thread .. Off-topic here so we can discuss there or even off-line if you’d rather. Sorry if that’s bad netiquette folks.

    Earth still here – check! Pluto still here? Well it should be! 😉 😛

    “… he had left out a planet. It was not his fault; everyone leaves it out. I leave it out myself when I list the nine planets, because it is the four-and-a-halfth planet. I’m referring to Ceres; a small but respectable world that doesn’t deserve the neglect it receives.”

    Source : Page 63, chapter 5 “The World Ceres” in ‘The Tragedy of the Moon’ by Isaac Asimov, Mercury Press, 1973.

    ——–

    Right now I am going to bed before I get in any more trouble here! 😉

  15. StevoR

    schism said on Sept 10th, 2008 at 9:56 am :

    “Well, of course we’re still here. The whole point of the LHC is to give birth to the Antichrist, not destroy the planet before Satan can take it over. Geez, pay attention, will you?”

    Nup, sorry I’m too tired to! 😉

  16. To be fair, they only created an ion beam so far. The experiment with colliding ions will start later this week.

    Not that anything will happen then imho.

  17. Or was it hadrons? Dammit. Too many particles…

  18. Gnat

    As long as NG debunked it. I was watching NBC Today yesterday, and about had a stroke with their report. After the report (which interviewed the prominant wack-job), Viera says, “How reliable is that scientist? We should get back with some fact-checking.” Well, duh! Maybe they should have done the fact-checking BEFORE the report was aired?

  19. Anyway, those tiny things that go “bang” in the dark….that’s what I meant…

  20. JohnW

    Ah, but if we were falling into a black hole, wouldn’t time slow to the point where it almost stops? So how do we know we’re not falling in right now, TOO SLOWLY TO NOTICE????!!!11!

    Oh, they didn’t really turn it on yet?

  21. Joker

    Said Schism : “The whole point of the LHC is to give birth to the Antichrist, not destroy the planet before Satan can take it over. Geez, pay attention, will you?”

    Huh? That’s NOT what Prof. Cox told us is it? :-O 😉
    Oh man! They got funding to do that! Wow there must be some conspiracy they’ve got there! 😉

    (Joking! Joking! I need not say that ..surely, ‘cept it sometimes it seems I do.)

  22. kuhnigget

    So the world ends? You people are all just figments of my imagination, anyway. And I’m tellin’ ya…you better watch yourselves or one of these days I’m gonna stop daydreaming and get to work.

    And then where will you be, smartypantses?

  23. hehe everybody worried about this little LHC when the real threat is if someone comes and unplugs the Matrix!!

    Ok, now serious mode on… What really bothers me of all this is the antiscience mumbojumbo. I am just reading the NG article and wow, it seems they also want to tell everyone that science is bad and that scientists don’t know what they’re doing when playing God.

  24. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Robbie –

    I’m with Phil on this one…

    NG very nicely explains why destroying the earth isn’t a possibility with the LHC… but that being the case, doesn’t that totally invalidate the gratuitously sensationalistic, and grossly inaccurate headline: “Worst Case: Collider Spawns Planet-Devouring Black Hole”.

    Come on. It was never a “worst case”, as has been pointed out here and other places dozens of times.

    So, yes… SHAME on NG for this.

  25. deep

    Honestly, I’ve lost a lot of respect for National Geographic over the years. I think what really done it for me is when I flipped onto the “Nat Geo” channel and they were running a program about psychic pets, right next to a show about some Jesus miracle thingie…If I didn’t know better I would of thought I was watching Fox.

  26. TheBlackCat

    WRONG!. The Earth has already been destroyed. Am I the only one here who pays attention to The International Earth-Destruction Advisory Board? If you guys had been keeping an eye on their website you would know the Earth is already gone.

  27. Yoo

    *sigh* Here I was, secretly hoping to be converted into dark matter and freed from the shackles of electromagnetism, but nothing of the sort happened. Maybe better luck next time when they start colliding stuff …

  28. Robbie

    Oops. I actually did not even read the headline. That is a silly headline, but it might have drawn readers and convinced them not to worry so maybe it’s not all bad. (?)

  29. Thomas Siefert

    Der skete jo ikke en brik, alt er ganske som det plejer være. :-)

  30. Donald

    Don’t get your hopes up folks – here’s the real reason it was constructed:

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/opinion/columnists/die-mankind!-die!-200809091241/

  31. Donald

    Hmmm, linky is truncated. Ctrl-C Ctrl-V then folks.

  32. Cheyenne

    I thought scientists believe the LHC maybe can make black holes – but they would be so tiny that they would evaporate away from Hawking radiation in a fantastically small amount of time. No danger to us, but isn’t a tiny, short-lived black hole a possibility?

    Bad move on National Geographic. Normally – great magazine. They dropped the ball here.

  33. WIN for the BA. This is all that needs saying, afterall. Nicely done.

  34. RL

    I think you’re overreacting. If anyone reads the article, its pretty clear that its not going to end the world. The headline is sensationalistic, but hopefully that gets people to read the article and get some facts.

    And just to be picky, I’d wait to brag that we’re still here after atoms start smashing.

  35. !AstralProjectile
  36. Gary Ansorge

    Fear,,,is the mind killer,,,

    ,,,so I guess we have a lot of dead minds out there,,,

    It’s a lot easier to sell articles/books/blogs using sensationalist headlines(read: FEAR mongering). Promoting rational thought is a thankless task. Six months from now, when the LHC has done its best to create unobserved particles, I expect Dr. Hawking will be collecting his $100.00 bet.

    I get really tired reiterating the “cosmic rays are a billion times more powerful than the LHC” argument. After 4.5 billion years(or 6000, whatever turns you on) WE”RE STILL HERE.

    Sheesh! How many times do we have to repeat that???

    Beside, creationists/IDers should be GLAD we’re turning on the LHC. Aren’t they looking forward to an end to their monthly billing cycle? Or maybe they’re afraid heaven ain’t what they’ve been told it is, as in, “Welcome to heaven. Your earthly vacation is over. Now, get back to work, steeling coals from Hell to light the Fires of Heaven,,,”.

    Gary 7

  37. Peptron

    So, what happened is that the LHC destroyed the entire universe and propulsed us all into an identical looking parallel universe.

  38. Charles

    We are not actually here Phil — well, we are, but what we call “here” is actually now “there.”

    I know, I know, super-symmetry is confusing. Sometime around 3am this morning, for those of us still up and working, we might have felt a tad queasy for a brief instant. That was when the particles first collided and sent us into an alternate universe.

    You know the one, you’ve possibly read of it in a Bernard Haisch tome. In this brave new Universe, science is bad, UFOs, intelligent design and even Uri Geller are fact. You can confirm this — just turn on any television!

  39. dre

    I think that article falls in the “Lazy or jerk editor adds sensational headline after the fact” category. An interviewee says “as long as we make it clear we’re going off the deep end” before discussing black holes, but the editor chose not to make it clear.

  40. JoshH

    I’m just happy that for once in my life there was an “end of the world” prediction or prophecy that wasn’t the result of crazy religious beliefs, however wrong it was :).

  41. MMyers

    Yeah, but they don’t start doing actual particle collisions until Oct 10, so get back to us then will ya?

  42. Gary Ansorge

    Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell Y’All, we destroyed the planet in 1990, but then, feeling really bad about messing with Sasquatch, we decided to recreate it,,,sorry Y;All didn’t get the memo,,,security, ya know. We had to be careful not to upset all the STUPID people,,,

    Gary 7

  43. Ah, Madge…dippy egg… toast soldiers… you’re awesomesomesomesomesomesome dzzzztttttztttttttttttztttttttttttttttttt…………..

    *blinks out of existence*

    Uh oh…..

  44. Adrian Lopez

    Don’t worry. If the LHC doesn’t destroy us, the Vogons will do so soon enough. They need the space.

  45. madge

    TOAST SOLDIERS TO THE RESCUE!
    :)

  46. Mena

    Marco Langbroek , if it is any consolation, protons are hadrons. Baryons even.

  47. Cyle

    I think you need to check this out.

    http://qntm.org/?board

    Sam Hughes seems to be a British BAer in spirit.

  48. gopherbroke

    anybody notice the google logo today??? Made me giggle

  49. riki

    You’ve probably all seen this “How to Destroy the Earth”.
    http://qntm.org/?destroy

  50. Dear 1993 US Congress that killed the Superconducting Supercollider:

    NEENER NEENER NEENER.

    Did it without you. We could have been the Scientific Mecca instead of CERN and lookit what you did.

    Neener.

    Love,
    Fan of FermiLab since I was 2.

  51. Alex Y.

    We could be living in a *reverse universe* now

  52. Marvin

    Where’s the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth-Shattering Kaboom?

  53. Chris A.

    @StevoR:
    If you responded to my post on the Xkd (sic) thread, I don’t see it. Your reply to TL was the last thing of consequence you posted there, and it gives no indication that you’ve bothered to read Steve Soter’s paper (http://arxiv.org/ftp/astro-ph/papers/0608/0608359.pdf) which clearly shows that a quantifiable measure exists to determine which objects in our solar system formed first and now dominate their orbits, and which are latecomers that have been subject to scattering.

    Read the paper and present your objections. Until then, you’re just huffing and puffing, AFAIC.

  54. Oh, holy crap.

    http://www.msnbc.com/id/26641652

    Indian Girl, 16, commits suicide over “big bang” fear.

    Not cool. Not cool at all. I hate to play the blame game, but when you fearmonger, like some have been doing, this is what happens.

    Phil, you often remark that pseudoscience does, indeed, have real-world consequences. Here they are.

  55. bswift

    I’m sure this has already been said but I’m in a hurry: they haven’t started colliding anything yet. They were only sending protons in one direction, and even when they do start collisions, it’ll take a while for them to ramp up the energy past where we’ve already been.

  56. Well, I’m back, and I brought this guy with me:

    http://gist.github.com/9810

  57. # sam Says:
    I think the LHC switched everyone with their bizarro self.

    So, we can’t use politicians to determine if that’s true or not?

    😉

    J/P=?

  58. tdhowe

    Since when did Walter L. Wagner become an astrophysicist? I think more than the title had some sensationalism.

  59. Here’s a touch of irony. This was today’s quote on my Google page:
    Daily Blessing
    Wednesday September 10, 2008

    Today’s Verse:
    For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
    1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 / KJV

    J/P=?

  60. First beam is a success! woohoo!
    We converted our high school into a model of the LHC to mark the event.
    http://www.laboutloud.com/blog/2008/09/why-i-converted-my-school-into-a-particle-accelerator/

  61. RL

    Figuring out whether or not we all slipped into a parallel or reverse universe is easy. Just look and see if anyone you know has different facial hair. If suddenly they have a goatee, then they are definitely bad guys, so stay away from them. If they no longer have a goatee, then they may be good now and you can forget anything bad that they did to you.

    Now that I think about it, if I were the NG editor, I would have used the headline: “The World Is Going To End.” Then inside the article, I would have explained that it will one day end when the sun becomes a red giant. But not because of the LHC. Maybe its me, but I don’t think being an editor would be very much fun without the occasional sensational headline to spice things up.

  62. Todd W.

    @J/P=?

    Huh…I guess the world is gonna end.

  63. AFakeGuy

    To be fair to the doomsday wack jobs they didn’t know it was only a test and not smashing protons tegether. That will happen in a couple of months. So reset the doomsday clock for let’s say 2 months from now. So the Earth will be destroyed before Thanksgiving. Good I don’t have to taste my sister’s bad cooking. LOL

    Hey Phil, serious question here. Will the Earth ever be destroyed? You said the sun will eventually become a red giant but the Earth will probably still be here. Will the Earth always exist? After the red giant faze of the sun will it become a white dwarf?

  64. Taz

    You people have got this all wrong. Think about how many kids got interested in science because of dinosaurs, the bigger and more destructive the better. Look at it from Calvin (& Hobbes) point of view. Black holes! Bizarre dimensions! Explosions! World-wide catastrophes! Get those kids interested in physics.

  65. AFakeGuy

    Oops! Faze should be phase. I can’t spell today.

  66. Bas

    Sort of topical:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt1Yo610lG0

    This man wins the prize for most conspiracy nonsense in under 10 minutes.

    I laughed…a lot.

  67. drewski

    If people going to the NG site click on that article because of the sensationalist headline and, in doing so, learn that the LHC won’t destroy the world then frankly, the subbie did a good job. There’s no point debunking a myth if nobody reads it.

    At least people are interested in, and talking about, science at the moment, as opposed to Britney’s underclothes or whatever.

  68. Law Mom

    FWIW, I am still left-handed, so I’m pretty sure this is the same universe as before.

  69. Dave Hall

    Guess I’ll have to make that mortgage payment after all . . .

  70. Fergus Gallagher

    Let’s pretend a black hole were created and Hawking was wrong. What would happen to the ISS? Classical physics (Gauss’s Theorem) would imply that the black hole wouldn’t have any effect on anything outside 1 earth radius and so the astronauts would be unaffected by the end of the world.

    Notwithstanding, what would be the actual evolution of end-of-days? My first guess is that the black hole would race towards the centre of the Earth, in some coriolis-affected orbit, sweeping up matter on the way.

  71. Chip

    Google honors the LHC today, 09/10/2008:
    http://www.google.com/logos/lhc.gif

  72. AFakeGuy

    @Fergus

    A black hole that small would’nt do anything. The gravity would be so weak that the other molecules around it would be too far away to be affected by it. Remember on that small of a scale there’s alot of space between molecules. That’s my guess. Someone correct if I’m wrong

  73. Robbie

    Would it be the gravity that matters? What about the other forces at that level?

  74. Gary Ansorge

    Again, a micro black hole, (the ONLY kind the could even remotely be created by proton collisions) would be a million times smaller than a proton(at least) and would miss darn near every bit of matter in the earth, like an uncharged neutrino, it’s ability to interact with matter constrained to its minuscule gravity. Even at the earths core, matter is mostly EMPTY SPACE. Quick, somebody calculate the time required for an “average” micro black hole(non-evaporating) to even ingest a proton, let alone any significant amount of other matter.

  75. Thomas Siefert

    To Bas: I saw that clip too a while back somewhere… if I could only remember where that was…. 😉

  76. rob

    ugh. anyone that knows anything about physics knows that today ain’t the day the LHC is going to destroy the world. all they did was circulate the beam. we gotta wait until they get the counter-rotating beam going in a few months.

    though, who’s to say that the beam current didn’t create a giant magnetic field that sucked the auroras down to CERN, and sterilized europe in a bath of plasma? anyone try calling europe? i looked east this morning and just saw a glow on the horizon. it coulda been the sun, but maybe it was the glowing cinders of europe.

    anyone get any tachyon messages from the future warning us not to continue running the LHC?

  77. Todd W.

    @rob

    No, but I have had the sensation that I’ve kept popping through time…sometimes in the past, sometimes in the present, and sometimes in the future as an old man tying up grape vines. That or I just saw an old ST:TNG episode the other night.

  78. IBY

    What! I thought you left to Mars… :)

  79. @rob,

    Yes. See my post above. I brought John Titor back with me. Anyone remember him? (Coast to Coast fans will know who he is! LOL)

  80. Neill Raper

    I always feel really good right after a doomsday prediction passes. Not that I am relieved, I knew nothing was going to happen. It’s just that, as much as I hate admitting it, theres nothing like that I told you so feeling you get when you see whoever you were arguing with the next day. Here’s to Jan. 1st 2013.

  81. Hadrons stole my socks out of the dryer. This collider will mean sock-stealing Hadrons all over the place. The socks are doomed.

  82. Gavin Flower

    Actually a proton IS AN ion!

    A proton is an Hydrogen atom without its electron – so a proton is an ionised Hydrogen atom!

    However, calling it an Hadron is more useful in the LHC context.

  83. Todd W.

    @Gavin Flower

    So, it’s a plasma. 😉

  84. Kol

    My two primary school children had a bit of a tough day at school today. Seems that someone spotted a suspicious looking character in the woods behind the playground carrying something that looked like a gun. Naturally, the school was put into lockdown. This is just a few miles from the recent shooting at Central High School in Tennessee so nerves are still a bit raw here.

    On the way home after picking them up, I told them that the LHC completed its first two beam circuits while they were in school.

    Their eyes widened, their jaws dropped, their fists went into the air as far as the car’s roof would allow and they shouted an ear-shattering, “WOO HOO!”, in unison.

    On the second breath, I joined them.

    That, in a nutshell, describes how excited this family is about the first day on this freight train to Discovery.

    From my little band of scientists to everyone who made this a reality; “Thank you. Steady as she goes.”

    I look forward to the day when someone at the helm issues the phrase, “Full speed ahead”.

  85. justcorbly

    BBC World Service did a rather lengthy live special today marking LHC’s debut. It was disappointingly infantile and tabloidesque. They trotted out little kids to worry aloud about LHC sucking the planet into a black hole. They trotted out one special interest flack ofter another to complain that money spent of pure science would be better spent feed “all the starving people.”

    Despicable stuff from the Beeb. Shame on them.

  86. rob

    what would the size of a black hole created in the LHC be? here’s a back of the envelope calculation:

    the schwarzschild radius of a black hole is r=GM/c^2

    say the protons have 100 times their rest mass due to their relativistic speed.

    proton mass is about 1e-27 kg
    speed of light squared is about 1e17 m^2/s^2
    grav constant is about 1e-10 m^3/kg-s^2

    so two protons colliding ought to give a balck hole radius of

    r=(1e-10)(100)(2)(1e-27)(1e-17)= 2e-52 m

    the radius of a nucleus is about 1e-15 meters. so a nucleus is about 10^37 times bigger than an LHC black hole.

    let’s compare this ratio to something else.

    a light year is about 1e16 m. the milky way is 100,000 ly in diameter, or about 1e21 m. a nucleus is about 1e-15 m so the milky way is about 10^36 times bigger than a nucleus.

    within an order of magnitude or so, the black hole size compared to a nucleus is about the same as the nucleus compared to the milky way.

    you should probably worry more about getting hit by a stray neutrino than any black hole possibly created by the LHC.

  87. Ken S

    Yea, but what they are not telling us about is the size of the twinkie that is going to come about from all this.

  88. Brian G

    First victim of stupidity and hysteria over the LHC:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26641652/

  89. Rock Howard

    Listening to the NG video I was alarmed to learn that it was the skeptics (!!!) who were worried about LHC generated Black Holes devouring planets and stars. Or maybe the reporter was up all night in nervous anticipation of the world’s demise and therefore managed to confuse the skeptics from the doomsayers.

    In any event, this test was meaningless. The world is completely safe until the day when the beams are crossed. Only after that is accomplished can we insist that the doomsayers leave modern society and go dwell in some caves for the rest of their days.

  90. ROFL =gasp= MAO You peeps are all cracking me up!

    Paolo Amoroso Says:

    A couple of LHClol

    These are great. LOLscience on flickr can has?

    Thomas Siefert says:

    Der skete jo ikke en brik, alt er ganske som det plejer være.

    Danish, huh? Let’s see if I got the jist of it: “Of course it didn’t destroy us. Everything went the way it was supposed to.” FoxLingo is my friend…….. I think…….

    Gary Ansorge Says:

    ,,,so I guess we have a lot of dead minds out there,,,

    Yeah. They’re called Republicans.

    …………and I went to bed early last night. I should have known I’d miss something important by not staying up late!

  91. themadlolscientist

    Never mind that link in my name. It wasn’t intended to be there – I didn’t realize I’d pasted it there by accident. As if anyone had intended to click on it anyway……..

  92. Grand Lunar

    I have to wonder; can the tech used in the LHC be used on a smaller scale to create a fusion reactor? Or has/is this idea already been done? Or is it far off?

  93. Christopher

    Hmmm, the Earth’s still here, and I’m still here, but have you noticed that all the Christians have disappeared??? It’s the Rapture!!! The LHC opened a portal into the next world and all the Christians have gone!

    (Of course any Christians still around mustn’t be True Christians, or else they would have gone.)

  94. Tyler Durden

    The science fiction writer in me feels obliged to point out that maybe the LHC * did * release a black hole which swallowed the entire Earth.

    But no one noticed.

    Because there really is no spaghetti effect, and because of time dilation, Earth will never reach the black hole’s singularity.

    We’ll just continue happily existing, except we’re inside a black hole and thus cut off from normal spacetime and the rest of the universe.

    This of course assumes that all the theories about the nature of black holes are fundamentally wrong, but since we have no direct evidence to the contrary, it’s not impossible.

    I guess we’ll find out the next time someone tries to launch an interplanetary probe. If it can’t reach escape velocity despite sufficient thrust, we’ll know we’re now in a black hole.

  95. I’m just wondering if the technology can be used to create a better fridge magnet?

  96. Oh dear…

    Two powerful earthquakes have just struck in Asia. What with the one earlier today in Afghanistan, what’s the betting that Cern will get all the blame?

    Cue the doom-criers in three… two… one…

  97. Elwood beat me to it! I was going to say the same thing!

  98. Ah but Michael Lonergan, they do have a better fridge magnet….
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/supplies/9463/?cpg=ab

  99. Gary Ansorge

    rob Says:
    September 10th, 2008 at 2:11 pm
    what would the size of a black hole created in the LHC be? here’s a back of the envelope calculation:
    the schwarzschild radius of a black hole is r=GM/c^2

    WoW! That’s what I’m talking about. Great answer and thanks. I pulled the million to one figure out as a crude example to show how ridiculous those fears were but your 10^37 differential REALLY shows it off, especially the galactic comparison.

    Dang, maybe I’d better start using the calculator on this iMac instead of my trusty envelope,,,

    Gary 7

  100. @Shane

    Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

  101. Buzz Parsec

    Total Protonic Reversal! Don’t cross the beams! End of Life As We Know It! Biblical stuff… Dogs and cats, living together…

    (Runs screaming from the room.)

    Seriously, (or maybe not), at about 10:30 this morning EDT, I was glancing out the window and it suddenly got dark outside for about 1.5 seconds, like a cloud going over the Sun, but much quicker.
    (It was otherwise a bright sunny day.) At the time I though “cool, an airplane just flew between me and the sun!”, but now I’m wondering if it was the galaxy inverting? Wooo.

    (The very first time I observed the sun with a heliostat, about a minute into it, an airplane flew across the Sun and was clearly silhouetted against the project image. The prof said “You’ll never see that again!”)

  102. @themadlolscientist: yes, LOLscience on Flickr can definitely has it.

  103. Grand Lunar

    “Dogs and cats, living together… ”

    This happened with a former cat of ours and our new dog a few years ago!

    The world already ended long before LHC! Ahh!

  104. bassmanpete
  105. hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet has a news feed, so you won’t have to keep going back to the site to see if we’re all still here.

    http://www. hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/atom.xml

  106. Simon

    I came across this tragic bit of news today.

    http://www.physorg.com/printnews.php?newsid=140327173

    Irresposible reportage and silly speculation kills. It’s not funny!

  107. rob

    @Gary A

    i knew they were smaller than a nucleus, but my quick calculation shows they are mucho smaller. makes me wonder if i biffed it somewhere and just don’t see it. i might need a more powerful envelope.

    but hey, what’s a factor of 10 amongst friends?

  108. Adrian

    Pft, you can understand the fundies’ paranoia.

    1. The big bang theory was proposed by a physicist who was a Catholic priest.
    2. The Catholic Church opposes biblical fundamentalism and teaches that the bible is not a science textbook. “Do science in labs, do religion in church.” Therefore they are in league with the devil.
    3. Scientists expect the LHC to provide evidence for the papist big bang theory.
    4. LHC was funded by the EU. Rome is in Europe.
    4. Therefore….

    As well as big thanks to the team who made the LHC, how about a big thank you to the taxpayers of the European Union. Yay for the folks who paid for this!

  109. Mena

    My sister’s cat recently developed a white chin. Is that like a goatee? He started out as a black cat almost 18 years ago…

  110. @Mena,

    Well, with your sisters cat, and this cat, I think there’s trouble-a-brewin’:

    http://icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/funny-pictures-smiley-faced-belly-cat.jpg

  111. nanoip

    but how do they really know that nothing bad will happen? Seriously, somebody give me an answer? I mean they have designed an experiment this complicated to probe matter than has never been messed with before. How do they really KNOW what the outcome will be when the collision occurs? Am I crazy, or are they grosly irresponsible?
    Somebody help me out here.

  112. StevoR

    @ Chris A :

    I’ve posted my response on :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/09/07/todays-xkcd/#comment-117809

    BTW. Forgot to add there on Soter’s paper – you do realise that using that is committing the logical fallacy of argument by authority don’t you? 😉

    Now back to the topic .. Hmm we are still here! 😉

    Then again they haven’t collided beams yet! 😉

    Do I think that’ll end the world? No.

    Do I wish they’d be a bit more careful, ethicial and a bit less dismissive of critics and concerned or even scared folks anyway? Yes.

    Is this matter really as one-sided as the BA makes things sound here? Well I’m not that sure… Perhaps a bit better communication and more sympathetic engagement by the LHC mob and bit less calling of people ‘twats’ for worrying about what they don’t understand would help? Maybe?

    A lot of people understand science from science fiction where things often do go wrong … Not saying that’s a good thing just the reality – and while the LHC team may be right I suspect they’ve also rubbed a lot of people the wrong way by their attitude and approach. I have, as stated before, mixed feelings over all this.

    PS. Is it good manners / recommended practice or custom to put peoples’ names in bold when responding to them? I thought it was but now I’m not so sure…?

  113. StevoR Says : Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Well actually I don’t .. but it is when it usually isn’t.

    Hence I suspect this #@#!@@# autofilter is spitting the dummy over the hyperlink (is that what’ch’ya callit?) in the post so I’ve got it on click my name to go to thread link mode.

    Anyway my post also reads (again in case it doesn’t survive – apologies if this is tooo painful for y’all. :-( )

    ****
    @ Chris A :
    BTW. Forgot to add there on Soter’s paper – you do realise that using that is committing the logical fallacy of argument by authority don’t you?

    Now back to the topic .. Hmm we are still here!

    Then again they haven’t collided beams yet!

    Do I think that’ll end the world? No.

    Do I wish they’d be a bit more careful, ethicial and a bit less dismissive of critics and concerned or even scared folks anyway? Yes.

    Is this matter really as one-sided as the BA makes things sound here? Well I’m not that sure… Perhaps a bit better communication and more sympathetic engagement by the LHC mob and bit less calling of people ‘twats’ for worrying about what they don’t understand would help? Maybe?

    A lot of people understand science from science fiction where things often do go wrong … Not saying that’s a good thing just the reality – and while the LHC team may be right I suspect they’ve also rubbed a lot of people the wrong way by their attitude and approach. I have, as stated before, mixed feelings over all this.

    PS. Is it good manners / recommended practice or custom to put peoples’ names in bold when responding to them? I thought it was but now I’m not so sure…?

  114. Right. That works.

    Sheesh Bad Astronomer, I Love, love, LOVE love your blog but yegods there are some things here that could be improved about it too – editing & link-posting & getting the Discover people to lift their game & not have everything squashed left and generally bleck~ish would be great!

    A-ny-w-a-y back on topic : In essence, I’m saying the LHC mob were right (so far) but could have been a lot nicer in their approach – more reassuring, more sympathetic and cautious and less rude and dismissive.

    Their scientific skills are awesome. Their people skills could usesome work! 😉 But well done & good luck to them anyway.

    Although I still reckon it’d be far cooler if they built the LHC on Pluto! 😉

  115. @ StevoR : “Although I still reckon it’d be far cooler if they built the LHC on Pluto!”

    NO way! Not in my backyard! :-0

    Eris can have it instead! 😉

  116. Nah – not us either, PBP! Stuff it, build it on Earth – we don’t mind if they’re destroyed – after all they won’t even call us planets! (Sniff!) 😉

  117. nanoip Said on Sept 11th, 2008 at 7:50 pm
    “but how do they really know that nothing bad will happen? Seriously, somebody give me an answer? I mean they have designed an experiment this complicated to probe matter than has never been messed with before. How do they really KNOW what the outcome will be when the collision occurs? Am I crazy, or are they grossly irresponsible? Somebody help me out here.”

    I agree with you.

    They seem, from my Point Of View, have different theories on things they *think* might be found or generated like mini-black holes and “God Particle” Higgs Bosons but they don’t really know what’ll happen.

    It reminds me of the Alamogoro (Trinity?) A-bomb tests where they detonatee thefirstever Atomic bomb without knowing that itwouldn’t create abiggeratmospheric chain-reaction thatcould spreadand destroy theworld. :-(

    This sort of attitude does strike me as reckless and verging on the irresponsible – I’ve nothing against observing the universe but sometimes this sort of experimenting on its most fundamental levels when we really don’t know what we’re doing .. (Coz if we did we wouldn’t need to experiment) .. Well makes me feel quite uneasy. :-(

    I grew up under the constant threat of the Cold War Nuclear Holocaust – the shadow of the A-bomb and H-Bomb. That we humans survived is only due to the good judgement of JFK and his Soviet counterpart during the Cuban missile crisis.

    I think this has coloured my view of nuclear and sub-atomic particle physcists considerably. I’ll never forget that they thought up & built these weapons of mass destruction and I don’t think people or areas of science capable of doing this – of wiping out all of us – should be fully trusted and given free unchecked reign ever again.

    Now this may be unfair but its how I feel. :-(

    I don’t think Brian Cox and the LHC people are like Dr Strangelove (Hey did the BA review that movie? 😉 ) exactly .. but they don’t seem all that terribly far removed either .. & Dr Strangelove was based on a real scientist Dr Edwin (I think?) Teller who wanted to use A-bombs for all sorts of crazy things like digging canals and harbours and .. well all sorts. :-(

  118. Yoo

    It doesn’t seem that irresponsible. Unless you also consider getting out of bed irresponsible, which could set off a chain of events that can destroy the universe for all you know …

  119. CORRECTION : because I can’t do it any other way & it needs to be done. :-(

    & Addition too …
    _______________________

    It (the LHC experiment) reminds me of the Alamogoro (spelling?) “Trinity” (?) A-bomb tests where they detonate the first ever Atomic bomb without knowing that it wouldn’t create a bigger atmospheric chain-reaction that could spread and destroy the world.

    It didn’t then, it probably won’t now – but if they keep on doing this stuff with that gung-ho attitude and taking these sort of chances well one day they might displace the wrong decimal place or whatever and .. KKkaBooooom!

    Humanity goes extinct. Our planet gets destroyed. We all die.

    Perhaps we should therefore be a just a wee-bit more a careful. If something is called a “God particle”; well to me that suggests it just
    mi-iight be a wise idea to leave it the hell alone and not tamper with it!

    Apparently one scientist (the one in charge I think – was quoted on ‘Sarah Connor Chronicles’ TV-SF) at the first A-bomb test watched the A-bomb balst and boast onanistically : “We have become Shiva – Destroyer of Worlds!”

    To which another scientist standing nearby replied : “No, we have become sons of b-tches*!..”

    Science is a double-edged sword. It can be used to create terrible atrocities and catastrophes as well as all the good stuff Phil Plait is always – rightly – pointing out. We should respect science & enjoy it & fund it – but we should also take care and apply ethics to it as well.

    ——————
    * Can I say or rather quote that here? If I can’t then moderators can you just take out the one rude-ish word & leave the rest of my post? Afraid I’m never sure just how prissy and childish a level Phil’s silly and rather pointless (I mean c’mon we all know the words anyway!) – anti-swearing policy is set at. :-(

  120. nanoip

    Yoo Says:
    September 12th, 2008 at 10:47 am
    It doesn’t seem that irresponsible. Unless you also consider getting out of bed irresponsible, which could set off a chain of events that can destroy the universe for all you know …

    I don’t follow your logic that an indiviual getting out of bed poses the same risks as what they are doing? I mean, do you make microscopic black holes when you get up in the morning? Do you have a stash of strange subatomic materials hidden somewhere that we all don’t know about? If you believe that those kind of chain of event scenarios are possible, then you are choosing to put your faith in them right and not because you have evidence or logical reason to belive this,…. perhaps similarly to scientists putting a certain amount of faith into there calculations and experimental design?

  121. ChrisA : Click on my name to go to the thread where I rebutted Soter’s paper – it was the planet-pron one here.

    Or, if that fails cut & paste – & remove the gaps :

    http: // blogs.discovermagazine.com / badastronomy / 2008 / 08 / 13 / planet-pr0n /

    (hope this works … @!#!@!%$#@ anti-links filter here. :-(

  122. Okay that’s awaiting moderation. :-(

    Putting spaces in links doesn’t work then. But my name should be connected to that thread.

  123. Okay here’s my rebuttal of Soter’s paper as was posted from the BA ‘planet-PrOn’ thread which is linked to my name. I’ve edited it to correct typos & added my definition of planet also.

    ****
    StevoR said on Aug. 15th @ 11.37 am – comment 86.

    Spaceman Spiff said on August 14th, 2008 at 11:11 am :

    “Read Steven Soter’s paper, which appeared in the Astronomical Journal: http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0608359. See especially Figures 1 and 2 and the discussions thereof. In particular the “mu” parameter, which compares a planet’s mass to that of all objects within its dynamical zone does not have the problem of “location”.”

    SCR (me) : Umm . Can we get a translation to plain English please?

    SS (Spaceman Spiff – & should be quotes in italics too):

    “And the fact that comets and asteroids cross “planetary” orbits is a red-herring argument.

    What!! The criteria is supposed to be “orbital clearing” & yet somehow you’re saying it doesn’t matter that orbits aren’t clear? That comets, asteroids even potentially other stars and planets can come past and make an orbit NOT clear? That orbits didn’t use to be clear in the past and might NOT be again at some stage in future history.

    In fact our solar system will encounter a star called Gliese 710 sometime in the distant future which may affect planetary orbits as will the death of the Sun as a red giant when it loses mass. Suppose in the latter case Jupiter’s orbit suddenly crosses Saturn’s – does that stop either of them being planets? According to the IAU baloney criteria it would – & how silly is that!

    No the fact that orbits are crossed – by anything other than radiation and solar wind means that they’re NOT clear to anyone speaking the language of reasonable.

    Otherwise then what exactly is meant by “clear” and for how far around the orbit it needs to be ‘cleared’ needs to be well ..cleared up! Which it really just can’t be. Its a fatal flaw in a stupid and unnecessary third criterion. This “orbital clearance” nonsense just doesn’t make sense. Period.

    SS : “Those who drafted the language were aware of both Soter’s work and of a paper Alan Stern wrote with Harold Levison in 2002 in advising NASA on how to define “planets” in which was said: “we define an überplanet as a planetary body in orbit around a star that is dynamically important enough to have cleared its neighbouring planetesimals …And we define an unterplanet as one that has not been able to do so,…”

    and a little further :

    “our Solar System clearly contains 8 überplanets and a far larger number of unterplanets, the
    largest of which are Pluto and Ceres.”

    SR : Uberplanets and unterplanets?

    Mein Gott! Vot ist happenink here are ve liffink in Germany!? 😉

    What’s this Soter dude saying here – that Pluto is some kind of gipsy sub-planet & Neptune is from the superior planetary master race or some such tripe?! Come on! This seems to be just a pluto-haters rant, nothing much else is clear about Soter -whoever he is. Give me Alan Stern’s words instead anyday!

    SS : “Soter’s arguments don’t solve all problems. But in my opinion, something physically profound separates the inner 8 larger bodies from those in the asteroid belt or Kuiper belt. In particular, Figure 2 shows clear separation between the “isolation zone” of fully accreted “planets” and the “swarm zones” of the other condensed objects.
    (Emphasis added.)

    SR : Well in my opinion, your opinion is wrong. In my opinion a planet is a planet regardless of whether it skims the surface of a star like a HotJupiter or orbits in the far reaches of the solar system where there’s a lot more room for other objects like Pluto does. I see NO reason why you can’t have planets inside asteroid belts or cometary “swarms” or whatever if they fit the other criteria – roundness, non-nuclear fusing for energy, etc ..

    If you imagine otherwise then I reckon your imagination is lacking. (& Einstein no less rated imagination over a lot else! 😉 )

    I think the problem arose because orbital dynamicists had a problem with a planet – Pluto – that they disliked because it seemed a misfit. Ironically once they’ve found a few bodies that are similar (& lets remember only 1, Eris, is larger & it is only barely so.) and Pluto is no longer a misfit by the leading member of its planetary sub-class now they want to scrap it! Huh? Well there’s no good reason that reasonable folk (incl. many in the general public) can see. Sorry but if that reflects badly on orbital dynamicists then the fault lies with them and the only way for them to correct it & regain our respect is for them to come to their senses and accept that : Yes Pluto really is a planet.

    To paraphrase Dr Seus : A planets a planet no matter where it is & no matter how small!

    Incidentally, its not just Pluto, I’d be happy to term Eris, Ceres, Sedna & others planets as well. I see no reason why we should limit the number of planets just so there are less names to remember. I mean for pity’s sake! If there are twenty or even a hundred planets in our solar system then so be it – that’s how many there are. And Pluto is one of them.

    Finally, for What Its Worth, my suggested definition for planet would be (& not just mine either as its my suggestion compiled and considered from many other people’s thoughts and contributions) :

    “A planet is a natural, gravitationally-forced spheroidal, non-fusing object (ie. not just round by happenstance & allowing for rotational oblateness) directly orbiting a star or fusing object.”

    Simple. Effective. Clear. Isn’t it? Then we can usefully break planets down into further categories of :

    1) Gas Giants (Jupiter & Saturn)
    2) Ice Giants (Neptune & Ouranos)
    3) Terrestrial or Rocky dwarf planets (Earth, Venus, Mars, Mercury)
    4) Ice dwarf planets (Pluto, Eris nee ‘Xena’ /UB313, Sedna, Ceres*, Quaoar, Varuna etc .. )
    & maybe also
    5) Rock dwarf or asteroidal planets (Pallas & Vesta)

    We can then say our solar system consists of 20 odd planets – 4 gas & ice giants, 4 rocky or terrestrial planets and 10-15 or so ice dwarfs the largest and most remarkable being Pluto, Eris, Ceres etc … (Hence we can discuss only those most remarkable cases in school classrooms if the ‘kids can’t memorise more than 9 names’ argument is really so incredibly salient a point. But, frankly, that’s a pretty dumb.)

    * BTW. In case people are wondering; Ceres is also apparently composed mostly of ice thus qualifying as an ice dwarf, unsure of the composition of Pallas but Vesta is rocky so not all asteroidal ‘minor planets’ would fit in the rock dwarf category but then most are too small to be counted planet anyway falling off on the ’roundness’ criterion.

    Where would your argument be against this sort of idea Chris A and other Pluto-haters? Isn’t the sort of classification scheme I’ve described above much betetr than the current IAU-diocy? 😉 😛

  124. SR

    @ Nanonip </b. who asked up thread & on topic :

    “but how do they really know that nothing bad will happen? Seriously, somebody give me an answer? .. SNIP!”

    Their standard line seems to be that cosmic ray particles with higher energy strike the Earth’s atmosphere all the time.

    Which if true, makes me wonder why they need the LHC at all – if nature is providing these colliding particles why not just observe them as they happen?

    Of course if its false, then they haven’t got that excuse and if nature doesn’t smash “god particles” to pieces then why do we think its such a great idea?

    The other thing is that the partciles hitting our atmosphere come, I understand from super-energetic and rare events millions of lightyears away – Gamma Ray Bursters and supernova and Active Galactic Nuclei like blazars and quasars.

    Now these are all fascinating and amazing places – when studied from a very, very long distance away – but you wouldn’t want to be standing next to any of them – or even within a few light-years of any of them.

    Hmmm …

  125. SR

    @ Nanonip </b. who asked up thread & on topic :

    “but how do they really know that nothing bad will happen? Seriously, somebody give me an answer? .. SNIP!”

    Their standard line seems to be that cosmic ray particles with higher energy strike the Earth’s atmosphere all the time.

    Which if true, makes me wonder why they need the LHC at all – if nature is providing these colliding particles why not just observe them as they happen?

    Of course if its false, then they haven’t got that excuse and if nature doesn’t smash “god particles” to pieces then why do we think its such a great idea?

    The other thing is that the particles hitting our atmosphere come, I understand from super-energetic and rare events millions of lightyears away – Gamma Ray Bursters and supernova and Active Galactic Nuclei like blazars and quasars.

    Now these are all fascinating and amazing places – when studied from a very, very long distance away – but you wouldn’t want to be standing next to any of them – or even within a few light-years of any of them.

    Hmmm … Almost had a swear word in there entirely by accident! 😉
    But then it didn’t post so trying again & hoping it works this time & doesn’t come through twice. If so, my apologies.

  126. Yoo

    I don’t follow your logic that an indiviual getting out of bed poses the same risks as what they are doing? I mean, do you make microscopic black holes when you get up in the morning?

    I’m simply saying that they have a comparably astronomically small probability that they’re both virtually impossible. Given the extraordinarily larger number of times that much higher energy cosmic rays have collided into things, with energies the LHC can’t even dream of, compared to how many times people have gotten out of bed, it should have done something by now if there were any danger at all.

    I’m also ridiculing the notion of trying to stop things based on “might be”s that have been thoroughly ruled out. What’s going to stop a chain of events when you get out of bed, where you drive a car, crash it into a car, killing the only scientist who could have figured out quickly enough a way to stop a spontaneous “true” vacuum that arises tomorrow from swallowing our universe? (Or some other unlikely chain of events.)

    And why we don’t take advantage of cosmic rays? We do! They just don’t happen where we want them to happen often enough, namely detectors like ATLAS, so we can’t get enough reliable data with just cosmic rays.

  127. darrell d

    I dont know what everyone is so worried about. i mean, we are all going to die eventually anyway. Atleast this way we can all go out with a “BIG BANG”!

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