Thursday, September 11, 2008

LHC: Fictional Crisis Not Actually Averted!

(above: there it is, folks. the LHC's detector. no idea where i got the image from)

The LHC started yesterday. Nearly every blog I read that has regular updates had a post today saying something along the lines of "The LHC Started! We're Not Dead! Crisis Averted!" This is nonsense, and not because I think the world is going to end and we are in danger, but because the LHC hasn't C'd any H's yet.

That's right, the Large Hadron Collider has not even collided anything yet. The "tiny black holes" and other unpredictable, beautiful, GIANT DANGEROUS SCIENCE doesn't happen until things start smashing into each other some time next month. All that was tested today is the LHC's ability to get particles up to speed and spinning inside of the array. I certainly do not believe that the LHC will destroy the world, but even if it is going to accomplish this task, it can't happen until collisions start next month.

I know that bloggers are often rigor-averse (are they? are we? am I allowed to say that? etc.), but a little science knowledge would prevent misleading posts like the rash of posts I saw today. Without getting into too much sciency detail, saying that we averted a crisis today when nothing went wrong is like saying you averted the crisis of your car's engine blowing up by checking the tire pressure before leaving the garage. Or maybe even preventing a nuclear meltdown by checking that your pen works first before starting the reactor. Pure nonsense.

Almost as much nonsense as thinking that the LHC can destroy the world. But that is a subject for a later date.

Nonsense-purveyors: boingboing, io9. Nonsense-destroyers: WWdN.

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