Thursday, September 11, 2008

There Goes the Neighborhood!

Hold on to your hats! The world is already a scary place. I hate to add to it, but I didn’t create the situation, I’m just commenting on it. The good news is you may not have to worry for much longer. The bad news is you may not have much longer to worry.

In Geneva the CERN LHC is open for business. LHC standing for Large Hadron Collider and no, unfortunately it is not the world's newest and largest bumper car park. It is a 27km ring of underground magnets designed to fire proton's at each other at nearly the speed of light. The idea is to recreate, with a markedly smaller bang, the aftermath of the Big Bang and hopefully see some hither to unseen particles which will give us some clue as to how the universe was created. The cost of our newest theme park for geeks: 6 billion Euros to date.

Particle physicists have stalled out. They have gone as far as they can with previous experimental data and so in the spirit of progress they need to build a bigger experiment, thus the LHC. The problem is that while they know what they hope to find (sort of), they have no way of knowing what they will actually find. The "x" factor is real and they embrace that. It’s the very spirit of discovery and perhaps even a noble effort. After all, I might be writing from Europe or Asia had not some brave souls embraced the "x" factor, disregarded the idea that the Earth was flat and set sail around the globe (Actually those explorers were just greedy and desperate, but it‘s too early for me to make that correlation). But what if the Earth was flat? Well I'd be writing from another continent and those explorers would be floating out towards the edge of the Milky Way. No earth shattering tragedy there, relatively speaking. However, in the case of the LHC the stakes are considerably higher. If they are wrong no one will be falling off the Earth. If they are wrong the Earth will fall out of existence!!

Yes, there are those who are concerned that these experiments might bring about the total annihilation of Earth, possibly even the solar system (see example story below). Who are they? Most are probably crackpots like me who don't have degrees in Astro or Particle Physics, but a few do have degrees and good reputations and they have voiced concerns. Should they be dismissed? I would like to say yes, but I can not. The doomsayers are worried that these new experiments might create a mini Black Hole or “Stranglets” which convert matter to something completely unpalatable to us. The experimenters say they don't "think" they will, but "if" they do there won’t be any harm.

I am not really up on my Astrophysics so I can't say for sure, but I'm not aware of any experiential, physical or observational data on Black Holes or Stranglets which leads me to believe they know anything more of substance about them than your local preacher can prove about God. It now appears that their motivation to disprove God is so great they are willing to paradoxically debate him face to face!? Consider how science has moved closer to religion. Faith is the major component of religion and now science is prepared, on the "faith" that they are not wrong, to gamble in an effort to discredit “Faith“! Hmmm? Zealots? These guys are playing with matches and they refuse to listen to Old Smokey The Bear. “Shhhushh Smokey! The adults can control this” What child doesn’t say the same exact thing? And let us not forget that there is no Milky Way Volunteer Fire Department to come to the rescue.

I'm personally not very comfortable with "scientists" placing bets using words like "we don't think" and "if we create a black hole" when to call this bluff requires us to go "all in" by betting Planet Earth. Do I think it will happen? No. But just in case I'm updating my intergalactic will. Of course, unless the legal system in the alternate universe we will be sucked into recognizes Earth law, this will be wasted time. Could it happen? Yes. Why, because the brains behind this don't know what will happen. That's the whole point of the experiment. They aren't trying to verify anything. They are looking for new fodder. They have finished their book "Science through the 20th Century" and are desperately searching for a story line to their next best seller "Fun things to think about in the 21st Century" even if they need to cook it up in a laboratory Petri dish.

Particularly worrisome is my understanding that their back up plan (that any created black holes will evaporate) is based on "Hawking's Radiation". This 30 year old theory very nicely explained away quite a few theoretical problems in its day. However, more recently it has become considered possibly obsolete due to the fact that newer evidence has come to light which also very nicely explains away those same theoretical snags of yesteryear. In short, "Hawking's Radiation" may or may not be correct.

With the Snaglets they predict that their positive charge won’t attract any matter and so they won’t be a problem. The problem is that for every positive there is a negative. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that! The fact that at least one (but not all) reputable scientist(s) has posited that it is possible for a negative Snaglet to be created makes one question whether or not IQ tests have any validity at all!

There goes the neighborhood! If just one negative Snaglet moves in property values will plummet. It would convert all Earth’s matter into similar Snaglets. Great for the Snaglet market, not so good for the housing market! But then again the housing market is in shambles and maybe it would be fun being a “Snagling”, you never know. At best we could hope that the world would be turned into an anti-world where geniuses are working at WalMart and the simple folk are running the science affairs. At least in that world we won’t have to worry about science experiments actually working and thus we will be able to sleep at night.

The other day telephones lines got crossed and I listened in on a long distance conversation-

Voice: “Hello, and thank you for calling Universal Life Insurance. How may I help you?”
Earth: “Hello, am I covered for Black Holes under the Hawking’s Clause?”
Universal Life Customer service: "Hmm, well Earth I'll have to get back to you. I'm not sure if the "Hawking's Radiation clause" in your insurance policy covers mini black holes or not. If you tell me the size of the black hole I'll take it to our legal department and clarify."
Earth: "I don't know. Let's say nothing bigger than a pin head, but my how they grow up fast. And get back to me quickly with an answer. If it's a matter of a higher premium I'll send a check today!!"
Universal Life Customer Service: “Yes, Ma’am. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Earth: “Yes. What about Snaglets? Am I covered for them?”
ULCS: “Yes and No. You are covered for Postive Snaglets, but due to the inherent risk of
Negative Snaglets they can not be covered. I’m sorry.”
Earth: “ Yeah, me too!

We might get away with this, but it is still troubling. If God himself appeared and said the experiment was safe I'd still be worried. Not for the immediate future, but with regard to the mentality which continuously inquires "how can we do this?" without ever stopping to ask "should we do this?" Or honestly and sincerely asking “why do we want to do this?”.

Scientists can be addicts too! Fabricating job security isn't noble. Even if they aren't aware of it consciously most everyone can see that the military machine continually creates or perpetuates situations which allow it to continue to justify it's existence. Noble? I think not. Self perpetuation isn't lost on corporations either. Gillette will soon discover evidence that shows that 5 shaving blades aren't enough, but six will do the trick. Does anyone really believe we need 5 or 6 blades? Not me, I’m holding out for ten! Intelligent beings should be able to grow and adapt. Wise men should know when it is time to move on, to change course. Maybe we should couple a “Wisdom Test” with the IQ Test before giving people the ability to put the planet at risk. If only common sense were common. Or maybe it’s just that we need to put more common people in charge who actually possess common sense.

Are not some of the sciences falling prey to narcissistic qualities? 6 Billion Euros is a pretty big habit we are supporting! What do we actually get from these guys, even if we allow for success? Undoubtedly these people have brains parents will all be genetically opting for in our children (Should we? Probably not. Will we? Yes!), but does that mean they can't be mistakenly led down a road best left un-traveled?

I should state here that I have no stake in whether or not they prove or disprove the existence of God. To me that question is as irrelevant as the question as to whether or not the Big Bang theory is correct. Both are interesting questions, but neither in my opinion make one iota of difference in day to day life! But I have to admit, you never know when one of these questions will pop up on Final Jeopardy! But then again, I never saw anyone win 6 Billion on Jeopardy!

So if we still exist the next time scientists ask for a ridiculous amount of money for their next experiment I suggest we round them all up in one place to discuss the matter, which will be simple. We will just tell them we’ve discovered another “matter“. We should plan ahead for this and set aside a billion euros or so to cover the large psychiatrists/hypnotists fees and lock them in until they see that they should be concentrating their collective intelligence on something of real world value instead of foolishly stimulating their brains to orgasm! Are geniuses more predisposed to the psychotic fear of "not knowing"? I'm sure there is a scientist out there who will happily take research money to find out!

Leaving big brains aside for a moment; I thought it was just a bad dream, but apparently Bush's plan to send a man to the moon (again?) is real and another perfect example of irresponsible science. Why do it!? Does he want the American flag back that we supposedly left there? Does he think we are running out of cheese? Or does he just want to rap with the man on the moon?
There was absolutely no rational reason for sending anyone to the moon in the 60's*. There is even less reason today!
* Which is my main rational for believing we never went. Conspiracy theories aside, think about it and keep in mind Occam's Razor (The simplest answer is probably the correct answer). The only reason to go to the moon was to gain psychological advantage over the Russians. If we could accomplish that without the time, money, risk and effort of actually going there we would. And we could, not because our science was more advanced, but because our movie making was. Somewhere there is a director without an Oscar that really deserves one. He also deserves the thanks of an entire nation if not the entire world for arguably the most important film in the history of man and it goes without credit. Sir/Madam, I salute you!

Something else to heap on the pile: I don't think these are credible, but they popped up in my searches and I do think they are humorous enough to include here:
1) Nostradamus predicts calamity. Paraphrasing: "Leave Geneva. Positive Ray will annihilate all".
2) Bible backed doomsayers point out that our population is approaching 6.66 Billion. For the devil in me I can’t understand what that has got to do with anything!
3) Bible code predicts this disaster in numerous places. But then again it also predicts that a big
purple one eyed ape is writing this. (I’m hairy and possibly color blind, but I definitely have 2
eyes!) Unless I’m perpetually drunk and just seeing double. Oooh, I’m scaring myself now!
4) And there is a Mayan doomsday prophecy stating the world will end in 2012. Just enough time for a mini black hole to be pulled by gravity to the center of the Earth where it will slowly (relatively speaking. See: Einstein's Theory of Relativity) gobble up the Earth over the next 3.5 years.

Sleep Well, don't go to bed angry and if you feel yourself getting inexplicably heavier in the next few weeks don’t bother dieting. Run to the nearest space shuttle, hop in, press the “lift off” button and try to figure out how to steer the thing out of Earth’s orbit.

PS. Don’t forget to pack a big lunch and your Mp3 player. Space radio signals are notoriously static-y.

PPS. Maybe the Moon is Bush’s escape plan. Maybe someone should tell him that the moon is under Earth’s gravitational pull? Naaaah!

PPPS. Nothing can go faster than the speed of light, right? That is probably what you were taught and believe, but it isn’t true! I just thought I would throw that in just in case you are thinking that science is always correct and forthcoming with all the facts. (See: Tachyons or VSL-variable speed light)

PPPPS. Note: I am an amateur pessimist and should probably be ignored. However, if you are in possession of any worm hole technology please post a comment with the cost of a one way ticket to "anywhere but here" and the nearest point of departure. Thanks.

PPPPPS. Wikipedia says using all these “Post Post Scripts” is deemed “poor style”

PPPPPPS. I don’t give a damn, There is a lot of PP in me and I’m letting it out!

The following Story Copied from:
Risk Evaluation Forum

Recent developments in physics suggest the possibility that an experiment, scheduled to begin at the European research facility at CERN in 2008, will destroy the Earth. CERN is installing a new high-energy particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is expected to produce particles scientists have not seen before. Two of these particles could be dangerous.

Black Holes Several string theorists have published papers predicting (if their theories are true) that the LHC will produce mini black holes. In the worst case, a mini black hole could swallow Earth.

Strangelets Strangelets, another potential collider product, might catalyze conversion of normal matter into more strangelets, turning Earth into a small ball of strangelets.

Safety Factors In 2003, CERN published a paper asserting several safety factors. Black holes were supposed to dissipate via Hawking radiation. A collection of strangelets were supposed to be electrically positive on its surface, and therefore not attract other matter. However, new studies have put these safety factors in question. New physics papers question the existence of Hawking radiation. A recently published paper finds that a collection of strangelets can be negative on its surface.

Recently (in June 2008) CERN published a new safety study that asserts additional safety factors. We are reviewing this new study. We have quibbles with their methodology and with some of their assumptions. Nevertheless, this is a welcome development that reduces the subjective risk. The question is whether this is good enough. Even a small risk has a large negative expected value (probability times cost) when the lose at issue is Earth.

What You Can Do Readers can help by thinking about, discussing, and publicizing the issue. Contact us to help with our initiatives. We also encourage more physicists to work on the issue, and we encourage funding to help them to do so. (Physicists quickly see model limiters. Consider if candidate model limiters are reliable enough to protect something as valuable as Earth. If you think you have found a sufficiently reliable model limiter, please let us know.)