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Five Myths About the Large Hadron Collider

Lhc_hall_1The Large Hadron Collider!  The marvels of modern technology and the fundamental quest of the human spirit enable us to build an incredible über-accelerator to probe the very nature of reality, and fundamental flaws in the human psyche allow people to ask "How can I make money off this?" Also, "How can I exploit mistrust of scientists to create great headlines - and thereby make money off this?"

1.  Walter Wagner

El Presidente of the Anti-Science Circus is Walter Wagner, a botanist taking on the perils of eleven-dimensional astrophysics and therefore the worst-qualified scientist since Gordon Freeman's degree in Crowbarology landed him a gig at Black Mesa.  And despite being entirely fictional and unable to speak, Dr Freeman still has more experience with actual dimensional threats.

Just like all real crusaders for the common good Walter's main hobbies are begging for money, threatening lawsuits and google-searching himself.  He has many dedicated supporters including "his right hand" and "his left hand", who often pretend to be other people who support him SO HARD that they copy his writing style and grammatical errors despite allegedly being other people.  Walter's lawsuit against the LHC was recently thrown out of court so hard it landed in the next state.

2.  Proof That They Don't Even Read

Did you read any "The LHC might destroy us after all?" articles last week? If so, you can cross whatever website that was off your "science" list and put it in the "Can't even read" column instead. Every single one was based on a paper by Robetro Casadio and colleagues, a paper which states "We argue against the possibility of catastrophic black hole growth at the LHC" and "the growth of black holes to catastrophic size does not seem possible."  But it had the words "Catastrophic Black Hole" and "LHC" in the title in large type, which is exactly as far as the average scaremongers scientific research extends.

One or two actually got as far as the pretty pictures - truly, their intellectual efforts are without bounds! There they found an out-of-context graph indicating that if you use a certain particularly unsupported mathematical framework - and we mean so unsupported that even its own authors currently hope to someday provide an actual testable theory - and put in numbers that looked more like lottery prizes than reality then black holes would still not destroy the world.  But they would last slightly longer than previously claimed so OMG SCIENCE WRONG WE'RE GONNA DIE!!!!

3. Time Travel

We have to respect the staff of Moscow's Steklov Mathematical Institute, who at least make their made-up claims interesting.  Mainly by using hack science fiction stories as the source.      Irina Aref'eva and Volovich claim that the very large energies involved in the LHC could cause an invasion from the future.  Because very large energies risk ripping open wormholes in spacetime.

The thing is, that's like claiming that a "very large" cat could eat the Death Star.  There are two fields that utterly destroy the meaning of "big" and those are relativity and astrophysics - the LHC isn't a damp match compared to constantly-occurring cosmic events, and the total count of time-travellers to date is "Doctor Who".  And we think he's an actor.  This would be more forgivable if those behind the claim weren't mathematicians - they know loads of words for different kinds of number, this was the one chance in their entire lives to actually use those skills in public and they screwed it up.

4. Cooling system could kill us

How can you tell when they're scraping the scaremongering barrel?  When they start telling us that the cooling system will kill us.  The science fridge, basically. The LHC uses three quarter of a million liters of supercooled helium, which you might recognise as "the exact opposite of even the concept of explosive."  The thing is some scientists showed how you could create an ultra-cold explosion in Bose Einstein condensates back in 2001, and despite how

a) That was with Rubidium, not Helium
b) You have to work hard to make it happen
c) The final "explosion" reaches the awesome inferno-like temperature of 200 nanoKelvin, aka "fifteen million times colder than deep space"

people seized on the process as a possible risk.  Because, you know, it has the word "explosion" in it and they don't actually read the papers - or to put it another way, the average LHC scaremonger makes an airport security checkpoint look like the Nobel prize committee.

The entirety of LHC risk debate is summed up by this story.  Malcolm Fairbarn (scientist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, 36 published papers including Physics Review and the Journal of High Energy Physics) and Bob McElrath (convener of CERN workshop section on CP Violation and Non-Standard Higgs theory, 19 papers, referee for Physics Review Letters) examined the problem and confirmed that there was no risk.  "KFC" (named after a fast food chain, known qualifications include ability to type, refuses/unable to print his own name) disparaged their calculations as "back of the envelope" and implied that mysterious factors could still cause disaster.  Mysterious factors other than the one-and-only effect ever observed, which was quantified and tested by trained scientists.  The average apple is more likely to explode than liquid helium, and we don't mean the electrical machine - we mean the fruit.

5.  Mock Math Mistake

The latest "Let's have a crack at the LHC for fun and profit" crew are staff of the Future of Humanity Institute, and with a name that damn grand we suppose they have to get their name in the papers any way they can.  Their work is based on the accuracy of probability predictions, which would seem fine until you realise that they just jammed the LHC in there to get some press attention.  They jammed it into section 4.3 on page 14 of an 18 page paper, to be exact, and their entire scientific contribution to the issue was "It would thus seem overly
bold to set this [risk of disaster] below 0.15% without some substantive argument."

In other words, "We have absolutely no proof so we're going to say it's your job to disprove it and act like it's fact."  If you recognise this argument from religion, well done.  If you realise that they just pulled a number out of their ass to garner some suh-weet headlines, double well done.  Their entire argument hinges on the fact that everyone would die if a persistent black hole appeared from the LHC: we could say that everyone would die if a black hole was created by mime, it still doesn't give us grounds to declare a 0.15% risk.  BONUS: banning mime would actually have positive effects.

We understand it's hard, Toby Ord and colleagues.  You call yourself the "Future of Humanity Institute" but don't have cyborgs or robot suits so nobody cares about you.  Finding a way to get attention to your probability mathematics paper must have been very exciting, but please, if you want to get people to look at you without using "scientific merit" then strip clubs are always hiring (both genders in these modern times).  Until then a quick ethics refresher: "Just making things up is BAD."

Posted by Luke McKinney.

Walter Wagner http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/06/particle-theori.html
Walter Wagner Donation http://lhcdefense.org/lhc_takeaction.php
Doomsayer Dunces Don't Even Read http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/01/science-debunks.html
Time Travel Travails http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=512733&in_page_id=1770
Cooling system will Ice everybody http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/10/here-we-go-agai.html
Mock math mistake http://arxiv.org/abs/0810.5515

Comments

WTF?

Ridiculous article. What a waste of time.

You guys sure do like to run this article about every other week.. I understand you don't even make an attempt at making original articles but just re-posting the same crap from last week is just silly..

You guys sure do like to run this article about every other week.. I understand you don't even make an attempt at making original articles but just re-posting the same crap from last week is just silly..

You guys sure do like to run this article about every other week.. I understand you don't even make an attempt at making original articles but just re-posting the same crap from last week is just silly..

While the article itself was hilarious, the thrice-posted snark comment about redundancy was icing on the cake.

I'm so glad we're on the edge of a time period where science is appreciated again in the states, and the people without credentials who try to make a quick buck will be rightfully scoffed at.

LHC. The hype and the anti-hype. I sense a lot of BS coming from both directions. Sure they're are some wackos that will say anything for attention, but this article is basically calling you a major idiot if you've ever even considered raising questions about possible dangers involved in colliding matter at super-luminal speeds within our biosphere.

Intellectual wannabe points for using "biosphere" canceled out by claiming that the LHC, or indeed anything ever, moves things faster than the speed of light.

I noticed that you used "relativity and astrophysics" as two very large reasons that time travel wasn't a possibility. I would extend a word of caution in this area. I have to assume that your statement is in reference to Einsteins theory of relativity, but what is not widely known, is that Einstein used a series of faulty calculations in part of his mathmatical proofs which his theories were based on........a few years before his death, he was shown his mistakes by another scientist, and he began reformulating his theory of relativity, but died before he could complete the revision....he of course notified the scientific community who did nothing to inform the public. Bottom Line...with the proper calculations imputed into Einsteins mathmatical proofs, Einstein admitted near the end of his life, that things like time travel, and achieving travel beyond lightspeed, was not only possible, but an eventual, human-scientific-evolutionary stepping stone. The reason the scientific elite refused to notify the public, was because they spent so much time and effort promoting Einsteins theory the first time, they were affraid that addmitting error would destroy the publics confidence in the sciences, and destroy their levels of financial funding........hence please use caution when assuming that things can't happen.
thank you for your time.

Hmmm, making a quick buck. Are the scientists paid for this? Or do folks contribute to this project rather the way in which I am contributing to this blog?

@John: Please, please, LINK to what you're talking about! Some of us are more skeptical than to believe the words of some random name on the internet, we need concrete FACTS! I believe you, in that I know Einstein made mistakes in his proofs, but I need to hear it from someone who's not some guy named "John." You understand, I'm sure.

The article is written in very Hilarious way......get my true compliments...Excellent way of presenting the 'Public Bullshit...'

Many of these guys that made comments apparently are NOT aware of a similar large Collider in the USA.

That collider recently tested Gold particles (Ions) accelerated at a fantastic speed and smashed to each other.
Many wrote on the papers about thgis experiments (news...TV journals...etc...) That that US collider could have created a Black hole or opening a parallel universe...or demostrated an Einstan-Rosen Pipe that are suspected to interconnect nearby strings of a string based universe with some 11 Dimensions....

NONE of this has happened and the large collider in the USA is still there ...preparing some new collision of accelerated particles.

At CERN they have prepared this superlarge collider able 'apparently able' to create for 1 second at -26 (what a long explosion !!!!!) a so called HADRON a kind of massive BOSON theorized already by an american Nobel Price many many years ago (Prof.Higgs).

About a black hole : I do not expect these guys at CERN are injesting a blu giant or similar gigantic star ready to die in the LHC.....
Nobody here in Europe suspects they are so clever at CERN.

In fact That amount of mass-energy would be needed for opening a so called 'black hole'.

Then what for the LHC just for the seeking of the 'magics Higgs BOSON' ??? Yes and NO.

At CERN ..they try to create for an infinitesimal time the HADRON that is suspected to be one of the original particles available 'supposedly' in the initial universe.

Will the universe stop its expansion (PLS go to the Hubble constant ) and possibly invert such expansion..... ???? NOT at all....

But the sensors around the very short living Hadron (if they are lucky to create an HADRON at CERN) would tell them a lot about the early universe and the constitution of the Hydrogen in the early universe.....capable with the help of gravity force to create stars and galaxies.....

Problems with the experiments : NO we here in Europe are confident that no catastrophy will happen.

The LHC is only bigger than the USA collider well known to various people....also in Europe.

PLS get my compliments : well written and rather clear article.....I honestly smiled.....reading it.

Regards to ALL

@John. LOL man, greater-than-light speeds??
I could have proved it to you mathematically that it was impossible.. when i was 12.

I like articles that give lots of references. Good article this one.

It is truly a pleasure for me to comment on a blog like this, my name is Richard, I personally believe every day that passes we learn more about the network, the Internet have at hand all the information you want, that's what we need to people like you wrote this blog, I found very attractive and very interesting topic, the pictures are striking, indeed the whole blog is amazing, congratulations!

I hate to say this but all of you feel superior to one another, none of you have the superiority to even comprehend the fluxes in well... EVERYTHING. thereby this allows the neccessary energy to be produced by a common lightbulb to destroy the world by causing a black hole. The higher the amount of energy the higher the odds of something happening. while i will agree that there is pretty much no chance of the LHC causing this, i must say that if somehow the walls of the LHC were ruptured the energy release would be like dropping a nuke on us. K THX BYE!

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