The end of the world?

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.

TOPICS: Hardware, CXO

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.


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

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  • The end of the world

    Absolutely too funny. I am hopeful that at least the "end of the world" hysteria will draw some attention to the reason for spending so much money on the LHC. We had the opportunity here in the U.S. with the superconducting supercollider and blew it. Given our political and social culture, who could be surprised?

    Anyway, what a great piece you wrote.
    • RE: ernstroad

      Wow, thankyou! It's nice to have someone compliment my work for once, as opposed to the rest of them who belittle, criticise and demean wherever and whenever possible.

      I shall sleep well tonight... with the pills and the scotch helping of course :)
      • I read your stuff quite frequently..

        and its usually really well done. This article is another example of your great work.
  • RE: The end of the world?

    There is a leaked video on You Tube from CERN (LHC Black hole simulation Large Hadron Collider CERN) there is more to this than meets the eye, the black hole is not the concern, it is the revelation that may shatter our perception of reality.

    The link is on
  • Who invented the word "hadron" anyway?

    It's just way, way too typo-prone.

    (I am so very, very sorry.)
    • Tell me about it....

      [i]It's just way, way too typo-prone.[/i]

      The first time I saw the name, I thought it was an advertisement for a gay porn movie. ;-)

    Why didn't I write this piece?
  • RE: The end of the world?

    if its goes bad we will have a nice show
    • If it all goes pear-shaped...

      The European particle collider, CERN, has been built under the border between Switzerland and France. Could anything go wrong with the new (and very expensive) experiments, designed to create in miniature an artifical Black Hole? If there's even a remote chance that France could be sucked into a Black Hole, I say pay the money and hope for the best. :)
  • I stoled a few PS games with emule!!!

    And i'm not afraid for pass the rest of my days in

    Jajaja. Your blog guime a happy momen for begining the
  • Did it end?

    Is this what the inside of a black hole looks like?
    • Uh... you see...

      All the hype this week is for nothing... They were just doing tests to see if they can actually control the beams.

      It will be a bit longer before they start actually smashing protons into each other at relativistic speeds. That's the point where some are concerned that the Earth will implode and we'll all be converted to stranglets.... not during the current testing.

      But hey, if it happens, at least we'll die knowing the French ate it before we did.
      Hallowed are the Ori
      • And even then

        it won't happen right away. It would be years before we noticed,
        and the first thing we would see would be radiation jets coming
        from inside the planet.

        Actually, it would make a pretty cool apocalyptic SF novel.
        • Indeed

          Check out "Thrice Upon A Time" by James Hogan.

          While it is not the main plot of the novel, a bunch of scientists, when they turn on their fusion power plant, create swarms of micro-black holes that will eventually destroy the planet.

          Hallowed are the Ori
  • You, sir...

    ...are a freakin' idiot!

    "...less likely than zombies roaming the Earth and only feasting on the brains of idiotic politicians called George."

    Don't let your brain get in the way of your ideology now. Can't have that happening.
    • This is the media

      what did you expect?
      • My bad!

        What did I expect...objective reporting on the day's occurrences or something? Oops.
  • Big Bang is amusing

    I was taught that energy and matter cannot be created nor destroyed. As I look around me, I see a whole lot of energy and matter. Ok, so where did it come from? "Well, there was this singularity, blah, blah ..." Ok, where did IT come from? When you finally find the first particle to ever have existed, I will ask, "where did IT come from?" Despite that being and unanswerable question, let's say it happened. Ok, WHY did it happen? Action/reaction; the explosion was a REaction ... to what?

    As Norman Douglas stated, "Education is a state-controlled manufactory of echoes." The educational system has taught us something which is completely impossible, and we fell for it!
    • RE: Big Bang is amusing

      Well, true and untrue. I remember 6 years ago when I was doing my GCSE's. We were taught about atoms: neutrons, electrons and [something else I forget]. If you decided to do take that further at A-levels, they say, "well, we lied to you. There's loads more to it than that."

      They tell you enough at the time, until you want to move on and upwards. The more you progress, the more truth you learn. If they threw you into the "real" world of physics straight off, most of us would end up every night sat on the floor of a cold shower, naked, and rocking backwards and forwards.
      • Molarity/molality

        Yes, I remember the very same thing happening in chemistry, whereby we were taught molarity, then told it was bogus and molality was the right thing, and eventually in an advanced class told that it was all bogus.

        So where did the very first particle come from, and why did it explode? If that cannot be answered, the big bang is a big hoax.