The Large Hadron Collider

We’re still primitive animals when it comes to the unknown, programmed to jerk that knee at the slightest provocation.

In the past it used to be ghosts, voodoo, gods and bad luck that frightened us. Then along came science, and like a new creeping religion, it found more and more converts in heathen lands who gave up their irrational beliefs. Critical thinking and scientific reductionism eventually found the problem for twitching knees and promptly fixed them.

How ironic then that it is now science that is the new bogeyman. Frankenstein’s monster got married, had kids and started doing experiments himself.

Despite the assurances of the scientists in charge of the Hadron Collider project that it will not produce a black hole which will then eat the earth, in truth, they don’t really know. Let’s hoist science with its own petard shall we and use critical thinking to support the doubters.

1. You don’t spend eight billion dollars on building something to confirm what you already know.
2. Experiments are designed to discover things we are not sure about, to test a hypothesis. So, if you want to find out what happens when a certain amount of radioactive material is added to another amount, you construct an experiment and if one of the results of that experiment is critical mass and a huge explosion, then you have your answer. In fact, during the development of the atom bomb, Oppenheimer was concerned that the resulting explosion might set the atmosphere alight and thus destroy the earth. He assigned someone the task of calculating the possibility of this happening who must have concluded that, in theory it was safe, because they went ahead with the explosion, but theory and practice rarely coincide – that’s why they perform experiments.

And so it is just possible that somehting apocalyptic could happen which would then be irreversible. I think this is an interesting moral problem and one which will become of greater concern to everyone outside of the scientific community as science itself becomes more adventurous in its curiosity. We already have genetic engineering, cloning and nano technology to consider. Who ultimately decides if these things are ‘good’ and if we should investigate them?

Blowing yourself up in your garden shed is one thing, but blowing up everyone else on the planet along with yourself, is something entirely different. Maybe the apes have taken over the laboratory.

2 Responses to “The Large Hadron Collider”

  1. sam eller says:

    ineresting book on this idea ‘Flash Forward’ by Robert Sawyer (by the way a very interesting Canadian writer)

  2. Ivor Tymchak says:

    Thanks for this recommendation Sam. I will seek it out and read it.

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