Will CERN's Large Hadron Collider cause end of the world?

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Will CERN's Large Hadron Collider cause end of the world?

Postby Brightonian » Fri May 16, 2008 3:17 pm

I thought that wasn't supposed to happen till 2012?
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probably not, but

Postby admin » Sat May 17, 2008 6:47 am

People who predict that CERN will cause the end of the world usually confuse the extremely high energy of subatomic particles with the extremely small amount of work (work = force x distance) that their energy can do. The huge amount of energy acts over very short distances and for very brief times.

On the other hand, the idea that something is going to cause, not the end of the world, but the end of civilization as we know it, goes like this. There ought to be millions of civilizations in the galaxy sending out radio signals. We don't pick any up. Therefore civilizations are probably short lived rather than long lived.

But, since we don't know what is apt to cause civilization to fall, and since it may well be that superstition rather than science kills civilizations (that's what happened with the Greeks), we'll probably go right on doing science, until we release the giant flying cockroaches that devour mankind.
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Re: probably not, but

Postby slaven41 » Sat May 17, 2008 5:16 pm

There ought to be millions of civilizations in the galaxy sending out radio signals. We don't pick any up. Therefore civilizations are probably short lived rather than long lived.


We don't really know where the bottleneck is in the Drake equation. (If you haven't heard of the Drake equation, it's an equation used to estimate the number of civilizations in the galaxy that are capable of communicating with us. The equation is basically correct, but we have no idea what the values are for most of the parameters. One of these parameters is the average amount of time that a civilization remains capable of communicating.) Using "reasonable" estimates people have come up with a lot of different values.

It's possible that the apparent small number of civilizations out there is due to civilizations being relatively short-lived. It seems to me that another strong possibility is that there's a bottleneck in going from "life" to "intelligent life." If I recall correctly, life on earth seems to have appeared not too long after the planet cooled enough to make it feasible, but going from single-celled life to multi-celled life took 2 or 3 billion years. (I could easily be wrong about this.) So there may be a lot of planets with life, but very few of them where that life can be seen without a microscope.

As for the end of our civilization, I don't think the LHC can do that. My money is on out-of-control self-replicating nanobots. :-)

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Re: probably not, but

Postby Brightonian » Sun May 18, 2008 4:30 am

slaven41 wrote:The equation is basically correct, but we have no idea what the values are for most of the parameters.
--Dave

OK, I'm having some trouble processing this assertion.

How can you tell if the equation is "correct"?
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correct

Postby admin » Sun May 18, 2008 7:07 am

I'm with Brightonian. In science, you can't call an equation "correct" until it has been tested, and this equation has never been tested. As far as I can tell, all attempts to estimate the number of planets in the galaxy with intelligent life are mumbo jumbo.
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Postby slaven41 » Sun May 18, 2008 9:10 pm

The Drake equation is basically like saying

# of planets in the galaxy with intelligent life = (# of stars in the galaxy) x (average # of planets with intelligent life per star).

It HAS to be correct, but since we have no idea what the second factor is, it's also completely useless. Mostly it just makes for a good conversation starter when talking about life in the galaxy.

The actual Drake equation is a bit more complicated:

N = R fp ne fl fi fc L

where R = rate of star formation (per year),
fp = fraction of stars with planets,
ne = average number of planets that are life-capable, per star with planets,
fl = fraction of life-capable planets that actually have life
fi = fraction of life-bearing planets that produce intelligent life
fc = fraction of intelligent civilizations that communicate detectable signals
L = average # of years a communicative civilization remains detectable.

Anyway, Admin has postulated that N is small because L is small. My money is on N being small because fi is small. But of course I'll most likely be dead LONG before the bet is resolved. :-)

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Re: Will CERN's Large Hadron Collider cause end of the world?

Postby Larry Redfield » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:40 am

I recently attended a seminar with two physicists, one American and one Brit. The subject was the risk of the Hadron. They both scoffed at the hazards. One point they made was the sort of high energy collisions that the Hadron will produce occur all the time in nature. Energetic cosmic particles frequently impact the earth with such force they go clean through. These seem to cause no major harm. The Hadron just simulates these in a controlled environment. Also they mentioned that there is a physical limit to the violence of any collision, and this limit is not being reached by the Hadron.
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Re: Will CERN's Large Hadron Collider cause end of the world?

Postby admin » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:01 am

Thanks for laying that bug-a-boo to rest -- not that the facts will have any effect on the prophets of doom.

I'm particularly amused by Fox New's simultaneous belief that a) the Swine Flu vaccination is a government plot to turn us all into zombies and b) the government is evil because it isn't getting the vaccine out fast enough.

Or not, as the case may be. I get all of my information about Fox News from John Stewart.
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Re: Will CERN's Large Hadron Collider cause end of the world?

Postby Brightonian » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:08 am

Re the flu vaccine: while I totally support the UK NHS, I have to concede that their policy of delivering the same quantities of vaccine to every medical practice, whether they have 500 or 5,000 registered patients, could only happen in a government-controlled monopoly service.
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Re: Will CERN's Large Hadron Collider cause end of the world?

Postby Stinky93 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:16 am

There ought to be millions of civilizations in the galaxy sending out radio signals. We don't pick any up. Therefore civilizations are probably short lived rather than long lived.


I always thought it was because our solar system is in the galactic sticks. I'm not so sure the unabomber was seeing very much traffic when he looked out the window of his shack in the woods either.
Of course, my reply here could also just be the random mumblings of a simpleton.
I usually have no idea what I'm talking about. :)
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