You know that it’s a big thing when Google dedicates a toon to it. Users of the world’s biggest search engine will have noticed that today’s version of Google has the above toon decorating the Google trademarked name. If you wondered what that sci-fi thingy wrapped around the text is then let me tell you: it’s an LHC or a Large Hadron Collider.
It is the big thing really. Great great news. Scientists are close(r) to finding out what makes up atoms. Did you know what great scientific method they are using to do so? It’s the method you tried and tested as a toddler. The scientific method that many toddlers around the world are experimenting this very moment. They are picking up an unknown object and in order to assess its usefulness and discover more about its properties they are banging it against some other thing. Or the floor. Or another toddler who happens to be within banging distance.
Thus operate our scientists. After spending $3.8 billion dollars to build, among other things, a 17 mile tunnel under the French-Swiss border and a machine that is harboured therein and controlled from the mythical CERN (which would stand for European Centre for Nuclear Research only it does so in French) – they did what all toddlers do. They sent a couple of protons rushing towards each other in opposite directions and banged them together.
Until we get more results from that particularly complicated experiment let me just speak to you about one of the possible side-effects that skeptics have posited. It involves black holes. Since the experiment is in some way the emulation of a mini big bang (pardon the oxymoron) there is a possibility that it produces a black hole. Which, if you have not read enough sci-fi to know it, is the sort of thing you do not want to be hanging about and around too close to the earth. It sucks.
It’s a minor minor risk they say and one of the 9,000 scientists drooling over the banging experiment thingy assures the world that the worst that can happen is a minor explosion and the $3.8 billion dollar tunnel and equipment suddenly become rubble. I’d hate to be there if it happens.
Considering that the human race is currently many steps closer to answering questions like “What is the world made of?”, “Why are we here?” and “Bovril or Marmalite?” it is surprising that not enough fuss is being made about it all. On the other hand better not build up the expectation lest we are in for one other monumental disappointment.
You know what I mean… the scientists at CERN at a press conference announcing the latest results and all they can come up with: “The meaning of life? … bugger that… it’s all about the crash the boom and the bang.”