Shrewd Mammal

Well that was fun but are we still here?

Posted on: September 10, 2008

Listening to Radio 4 (well done BBC by the way on your coverage of this event) on the way in to work today I was listening with great interest to the switch on of the LHC at CERN.

I think that this is one of the finest engineering marvels in the world and a great example of co-operation sans frontiere. I was however struck by the interviews of scientists @ CERN who were at pains to remind us that they did not know what would happen and that there was a lot that could go wrong.

Now, I know the point of scientific experiment is that we strive to KNOW what goes on but, to admit that we don’t know what will happen is another ball-game entirely. Maybe they don’t know what they will find as a result of the experiments but to say they don’t know what will happen is just scary.

Sure, I don’t think the world will end today, even if they DO collide ahead of schedule and as I write this they have just completed one full circuit of the 27km ring (and the beams traverse this 27km 11’000 times A SECOND!!!) so who knows, they may decide to go ahead and collide.

Excited? You bet…worried, not yet. But simply switching it on is not the problem…colliding stuff is where it will get into unknown territory and that is where we need to exercise caution.


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