The Large Hadron Collider/ATLAS at CERN
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When activated, it is hoped that the collider will produce the elusive Higgs boson — often dubbed the God Particle — the observation of which could confirm the predictions and ‘missing links’ in the Standard Model of physics, and explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass. The verification of the existence of the Higgs boson would be a significant step in the search for a Grand Unified Theory which seeks to unify three of the four fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force. The Higgs boson may also help to explain why the remaining force, gravitation, is so weak compared to the other three forces.
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So what do you think Joe…will this technology spark off an uncontrollable black hole or what?
Ha – not worried! I do hope we can get to a unified field theory from these experiements.
My working assumption now is that the *smallest* unit of existence is analogous to a programming bit – ie everything is simply the product of rules that have sprung from the simplist piece of binary info. I don’t think these experiments can prove or disprove that however.
I hope these experiments usher in a new way of working through the laws of physics and really trying to understand how they work throughout the universe.
I have always wondered why we think we understand “all” the laws of physics based on our knowledge from this wonderful blue marble.
Its like saying since this grass grows in my backyard it must grow like this everywhere.
I think this is really the beginning of a new age of science and many things we consider fringe will now start to become more mainstream.
Einstein I am not, but the LHC raises questions beyond the scientific–(I did calc.-track a few years ago, and get most of the equations of quantum mechanics–again, really more statistical than strictly mechanical). Given the millions of shekels spent on the LHC, it seems reasonable to assume that the experiment should produce tangible results, and indeed useful results–like technological.
A philosopher by the name of Paul Feyerabend often criticized the science establishment from a results-oriented POV (somewhat “pragmatist” in the sense of Wm James as well). Feyerabend was a german officer, nearly killed on eastern front, who had studied modern physics, and then moved into philosophy of science. He associated with Popper, before taking a rather anarchistic perspective (PF was notorious for sort of opening the doors in his classes at Cal Berkeley to about anyone, left or right, qualified or not).
Feyerabend suggested it’s not just the results of an experiment that count, but what the results imply or entail–not just what the data “is,” but how it functions, what the experiment does (tho’ that’s a bit more Jamesian. PF thought most academic scientists–Werner Von Brauns, and Co– should be lined and shot)
Given that millions, if not billions of dollars are spent on high-powered scientific research such as the LHC, and often little or nothing comes from it, perhaps the public–even some Norma Rae–or union of Norma Raes– who doesn’t know bosons from a brastrap–should take an interest in these sorts of high-powered, academic research. (and of course something nasty often comes from it–like nuclear weaponry. Leo Szilard worked hard to keep nuke secrets from getting to all countries, “good” or evil–and failed). One would hope LHC sorts of experiments result in “good”–say in terms of finding new sources of energy sources, or medical applications, agriculture, etc.–otherwise one’s tempted to join Feyerabend (if not some of the postmodernists), who insist the science establishment generally functions to “reify” the industrial-military complex, not to say capitalism…….
Really interesting comment Horatiox. Agree that we should hold this type of research to some sort of productivity standard although the debate over how much we should fund “pure science” research is interesting.
I find this stuff very interesting, so I’m kind of selfishly happy to see money go this way. However I think in an ideal world projects like this would be placed lower in priority than, say, building a bunch of health clinics.
Danke. I could have edited a bit more. LHC looks interesting, but there are skeptics, including Hawking, supposedly. (Maybe not only health clinics–think of research into battery tech, more efficient bio-fuels, improved solar and wind, etc)
Keep in mind many mainstream scientists do not gain anything from frontiers being broken and our existing assumptions have to be rewritten. In fact the opposite is in play – they stand to lose a lot more than gain but alas that is the way with grants.
It is unfortunate that time and time again we see personal bias interjected in areas where we need to rise above it for the good of the human race.
But everybody wants their nickle and they will go to great lengths to stop anything that threatens that nickle.