The end of the world?

Summary:Probably not.Today (Wednesday, well it is for me anyway), we see the first beam test of the LHC, the Large Hadron Collider, in the CERN's labs in Switzerland.

Probably not.

Today (Wednesday, well it is for me anyway), we see the first beam test of the LHC, the Large Hadron Collider, in the CERN's labs in Switzerland. The point of this, quite frankly, bloody huge experiment is to try and recreate the Big Bang on a small scale, to then see how the Universe was created.

Sounds a little dangerous and there has been much controversy over how safe this is, but we'll get to that later. By creating a really tiny Big Bang, they'll hopefully see how the Universe started and trace back to the very start, even before the biggest implosion/explosion the Universe has and probably will ever see.

Some background: we already have a "Standard Model" of physics, the basic core elements of everything we see and touch, including nuclei, atoms, photons, quarks, electrons and suchlike. However the problem these physicists face is knowing where these originally came from. They have this theory that they all came from one bigger particle, called the "Higgs boson", named after Prof. Peter Higgs who first thought it up.

bigbang.png

So after nearly a decade of work, construction, digging and thinking, they've created the biggest and most advanced particle accelerator the world has ever seen. Today, they're turning it up to "11".

If my 5 year old god daughter said to me, "Uncle Zack, can I have a Lego playset with horses?", I'd say, "yeah why not sweetpea." On the other hand, had she said, "Uncle Zack, can I have a Lego playset with horses that might end the world?", I'd probably say, "how about a new bike instead?"

cern-tunnel.png
To be honest, it's almost an impossibility that anything other than a few protons can get destroyed by the LHC. Prof. Brian Cox, who recently presented a BBC documentary about the LHC, as well as being the "inspiration" for this article, spoke to the BBC about these conspiracy theories about the end of the world:

"I am in fact immensely irritated by the conspiracy theorists who spread this nonsense around and try to scare people. This non-story is symptomatic of a larger mistrust in science, particularly in the US, which includes intelligent design amongst other things.

The only serious issue is why so many people who don't have the time or inclination to discover for themselves why this stuff is total crap have to be exposed to the opinions of these half-wits."

I mean, that's pretty much the jist of the whole thing. They're recreating the Big Bang on a very small scale, to find a God particle called the Higgs boson which may or may not exist, but will essentially be the golden finding of all physics ever found, and may help us understand what mass is all about - maybe even find something climate-change-ish in the process.

Just by the off chance we are all about to die, better time than any to quickly get some things off my chest:

  • Mum, between the ages of about 12 to 17, I'd been stealing incremental amounts of money from your purse.
  • Dad, I know your bank account details, and have been stealing incremental amounts of money from your account.
  • I hate computers with an absolute passion. Sure I use them all the time, I'd be lost without them and I'm bloody good with them - but they really do drive me mad to the point I threw my laptop out the window.
  • I've never used a Mac computer for more than 25 minutes in my entire life.
  • Linux still confuses me.
  • Facebook scares me because it seems to know everything about everybody.
  • My mother actually wants me to marry another ZDNet blogger, after saying she was one of the most beautiful women she'd ever seen. She's certainly not wrong there.
  • Even though I hate everything about the iPod; the culture, the arrogance of having one, the technology and the fact you have to use iTunes with it, I still desperately want one.

Update: I bought one. It's an iPod nano (fourth generation). It's so cool, if you want a new track, you literally shake the iPod and it changes it for you. So freaking cool, or if MJ/Ed sees this - eurgh, yucky, horrible iPod...

  • The Live Search team at Microsoft UK use Google as their search engine. Fact.
  • I currently only have 42 songs on my Windows Media Player playlist which I just keep on repeat, regardless of having over 5GB of music on my server.
  • I am (or would have been?) changing courses from Computer Science to Criminology & Social Policy because I just don't feel geeky enough.
  • I always have, and probably always will love Windows Vista. It never breaks, just sometimes goes a little slow on my desktop computer.
  • I haven't ever legally bought any software, game, or music online. [hint hint]
  • A couple of years ago, I personally pissed off Bill Gates.

Again I reiterate the likelihood of us all being crushed into something smaller than a period point is less likely than zombies roaming the Earth and only feasting on the brains of idiotic politicians called George.

So, potentially my final words I shall ever write: Emily, give me back my Family Guy DVD, you thieving cow.

Update: great news! Just had an email through from an academic over in Hawaii saying that the world will indeed end today, but because the LHC will somehow cause a huge supernova. Whilst I emailed back telling him to essentially calm down and to get an early night's sleep, some of his predictions have been published on the web.

Update: See above, I bought an iPod. I feel dirty, but it's so damn good.

Topics: Hardware, CXO

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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