×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

World's Largest Atom Smasher Nears Completion

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the dark-matter-cannot-hide dept.

News 227

evanwired writes "The last magnet was put in place this week at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. When the device is completed about a year from now it will be the world's largest particle accelerator, putting scientists in reach of new data and possible answers to questions dominated by theory over observation for the past two decades. Wired News recently visited the installation — awe-inspiring in its scale — as part of an in-depth, three-part series on the collider exploring the engineering, science and politics of high-end theoretical physics in the 21st century."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

227 comments

Caution - low-flying quarks (3, Funny)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060148)

Watch out for leftover jaggedy fragments of atoms. And if CERN gets involved, there may be some technology spinoffs about displaying mixtures of pictures and text on the Internet.

Re:Caution - low-flying quarks (5, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060208)

there may be some technology spinoffs about displaying mixtures of pictures and text on the Internet.

Because smashing atoms the old way was sooo Web 1.0

Re:Caution - low-flying quarks (3, Funny)

The Zon (969911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060826)

This is tremendous improvement over the Small Hadron Collider, which was only big enough to smash one atom at a time. The Large Hadron Collider will smash at least two, which is the minimum number of atoms for a Web 2.0 social framework.

Re:Caution - low-flying quarks (5, Funny)

aweraw (557447) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061018)

I'm more concerned about the probability of a resonance cascade scenario...

By the way, have you seen my crowbar?

Quick! (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060150)

Somebody wake Jodie Foster up, the machine is nearly ready!

Re:Quick! (1)

snafu109 (852770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061542)

Also remember to seek out your nearest particle accelerator when being pursued by a T-X. They are very difficult to kill, or even slow down, but a particle accelerator will buy you some time and it also looks very impressive. Just remember to flick the "On" switch on the terminal before you go in, otherwise you're fucked.

Hydrogen based batteries will allow you to destroy the robot, but only if they are Sony-branded. Just bring it out of it's coupling and ram it down her gob and duck behind the nearest blast door.

Of course, all of this is for naught, because Judgment Day is inevitable. But you'll be richer for the experience, and it will give you some material for that novel you've been working on, so it's not all bad.

Acknowledgement ... (3, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060154)

To whom it conCERN [web.cern.ch]s.

The world seems to be more complex than just wired up.

CC.

Re:Acknowledgement ... (5, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060184)

Cool - I didn't know CERN was on the web :)

Re:Acknowledgement ... (2, Informative)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060776)

I'm assuming that you just left out your [/sarcasm] tag, but I'll still say this for the poor people who don't know. CERN [info.cern.ch] started the web [wikipedia.org].

you know duck scientists are having a field day... (4, Funny)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060176)

when you hear a rising call from their labs...Quarrk, Quarrkk, Quark!

Re:you know duck scientists are having a field day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17061688)

Damn Ferengi.

Black holes (4, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060188)

Is this the collider that could possibly create a black hole that would destroy the planet? Maybe a little sightseeing on the ISS would be a good idea about that time. That would buy me a couple extra weeks.

Dan East

Re:Black holes (1)

Durrok (912509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060210)

I somehow doubt a black hole appearing around what you are orbiting would do you much good :p

Re:Black holes (0)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060314)

I'm no physicist, but the mass of the earth (and thus its gravity) would not change, just its density. So the ISS (satellites, moon, etc) should keep orbiting just the same. In fact, the ISS might last longer, since there would be less atmosphere to slow it down. I think.

Dan East

Re:Black holes (3, Informative)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060328)

The swartzchild radius of a black hole with the mass of the earth is, IIRC, 9 millimeters.
I have no idea what the LHC is supposed to do, but if it turns the earth into a blackhole (which seems fantastically unlikely to me, but then, I'm no physicist either), yeah the ISS will be out of the atmosphere.
Unless the earth gains an accretion disk...

Re:Black holes (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060854)

OTOH (ignoring for now the unlikelyhood of this event), typically about 50% of the matter falling into a black hole is converted to pure energy by the frictional forces of the swirling vortex and radiated into space. The ISS would be vaporized in an instant, and even the moon might not come out looking too good.

Re:Black holes (5, Funny)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060324)

The thinking is that any black holes that are created by the LHC would be so small that they would evaporate in an instant, probably within milliseconds of devouring the earth and sun. So there's nothing to worry about really.

Re:Black holes (5, Informative)

Danga (307709) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060364)

Is this the collider that could possibly create a black hole that would destroy the planet?

I don't think there is really much to worry about. I have read a few articles on the subject and it seems highly unlikely anything catastrophic could happen if small black holes are created. Here are some quotes from one interesting article http://www.livescience.com/forcesofnature/060919_b lack_holes.html [livescience.com]:

"Stephen Hawking calculated all black holes should emit radiation, and that tiny black holes should lose more mass than they absorb, evaporating within a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, before they could gobble up any significant amount of matter"

and

"Still, let's assume that even if Hawking is a genius, he's wrong, and that such black holes are more stable," Landsberg said. Nearly all of the black holes will be traveling fast enough from the accelerator to escape Earth's gravity. "Even if you produced 10 million black holes a year, only 10 would basically get trapped, orbiting around its center," Landsberg said.

"However, such trapped black holes are so tiny, they could pass through a block of iron the distance from the Earth to the Moon and not hit anything. They would each take about 100 hours to gobble up one proton.

At that rate, even if one did not take into account the fact that each black hole would slow down every time it gobbled up a proton, and thus suck down matter at an even slower rate, "about 100 protons would be destroyed every year by such a black hole, so it would take much more than the age of universe to destroy even one milligram of Earth material," Landsberg concluded. "It's quite hard to destroy the Earth."


So, if Hawking is right we should be safe and even if he is wrong it sounds like we should still be safe. Of course nobody knows for sure which is somewhat scary but I don't think it means we should scrap the whole project in this particular case.

Re:Black holes (5, Insightful)

klaun (236494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060532)

Is this the collider that could possibly create a black hole that would destroy the planet?

I don't think there is really much to worry about.

It's also worth noting that while the collisions in HLC will be on the order of 10^12 electron volts... cosmic ray collisions with the earth on the order of 10^20 electron volts occur on a regular basis. If any Earth consuming blackholes were going to be created... they'd probably have already happened.

Re:Black holes (1)

Danga (307709) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060576)

Yes, you are correct and in the article I linked to above they mentioned that (although not in as much detail as you):

"CERN spokesman and former research physicist James Gillies also pointed out that Earth is bathed with cosmic rays powerful enough to create black holes all the time, and the planet hasn't been destroyed yet."

Re:Black holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060832)

That argument neglects the difference between "moving particle hitting moving particle" (particle collider) and "moving particle hitting stationary particle" (cosmic ray shower). ("Moving"/"stationary" measured in the Earth rest frame.) The difference is significant and can nullify the whole argument if you're not careful. See here [slashdot.org]. It turns out that the 14 TeV of the LHC should be compared to effectively about 100 TeV for cosmic rays, as far as creating new particles is concerned. So cosmic rays have surpassed particle collider energies, but only by an order of magnitude ... we may surpass cosmic rays yet.

Re:Black holes (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060888)

Yeah, sure... That's just what those mad scientists bent on bringing the Apocalypse about want you to think.

Re:Black holes (5, Funny)

ImaNihilist (889325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060554)

They weren't exactly sure what would happen when they set off the first atom bomb either.

Honestly, I hope everyone's wrong and some kind of crazy black hole forms. Yeah, we'd all die...but what a way for a civilization to end! I mean, we gotta' at least out do the dinosaurs.

Re:Black holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060608)

Honestly, I hope everyone's wrong and some kind of crazy black hole forms. Yeah, we'd all die...but what a way for a civilization to end! I mean, we gotta' at least out do the dinosaurs.
MOD PARENT FUNNY!

Re:Black holes (5, Funny)

Danga (307709) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060652)

Honestly, I hope everyone's wrong and some kind of crazy black hole forms. Yeah, we'd all die...but what a way for a civilization to end! I mean, we gotta' at least out do the dinosaurs.

Ha, I agree that we must out do the dino's, that would be quite funny. The problem with wiping ourselves out with a black hole is a passing alien craft may detect a black hole where our civilization used to be but they would probably have no idea we even existed.

That is why I think wiping ourselves out with self-replicating nano bots would be much more funny. Then a passing alien craft would come across a milky way sized swarm of these nano bots and think to themselves "what dumbass civilization did this to themselves?".

Re:Black holes (5, Funny)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060624)

>"It's quite hard to destroy the Earth."

Does that statement make anyone else nervous? I mean, does that sound like experience talking?

Re:Black holes (1)

icedcool (446975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060810)

OF course not. In fact, I remember back in the day when they were sending the titanic out. It was the unsinkable ship, and boy were they right.

Re:Black holes (2, Interesting)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061038)

>"It's quite hard to destroy the Earth."

Does that statement make anyone else nervous? I mean, does that sound like experience talking?

Actually it sounds like a quote from the Earth Destruction Manual [qntm.org], which starts "Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.[...]"

Re:Black holes (1)

Markus Registrada (642224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060842)

In other words, we probably already have black holes, have had 'em like forever, and haven't even noticed 'em. (Must be like cooties.)

Re:Black holes (1)

negaluke (893108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060402)

IANATPRPC (I am not a theorhetical physicist researching particle collisions, OBVIOUSLY), but arent black holes super massive? could two particles colliding create something with enough mass to collapse into a singularity and draw things into it? admittedly, the energies are high, but is that enough? my meager understanding of physics: in fission, a larger atom is split by a neutron, breaking the strong nuclear force bonds of the neutrons, and the results are less massive than before, but there is an energy burst... can you make the particles vastly more massive with the the scads of energy these collisions create?

Re:Black holes (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060756)

The actual black hole isn't that large, they have huge amounts of mass. Mass that is linked to their size. They can be big and small.

Re:Black holes (4, Insightful)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060868)

A black hole *might* not actually need to be super massive, it just has to be huge to be seen beyond the solar system. As for the basic physics part, pretty much yes - a few atoms properly smashed could take up 0 space, have an event horizon, and totally block light outside the actual mass... making it a black hole. Such an object could in theory destroy each additional atom it hit, slowly growing as it went back and forth through the earth until the entire earth was a part of it. The problem, though, is threefold. First, black holes emit energy, and a small black hole would probably emit energy faster then it could gain energy, meaning it would die pretty much instantly. (*far* less then a second). Second, if the black hole didn't disappear instantly, it would probably be thrown out of earth orbit by the massive speed of the device. Finally, the black holes would be so small that they wouldn't actually hit protons very often. This sounds odd, but the same thing is true of galaxies... the milky way one day will hit the andromada galaxy, but statistically there will be about 6 collisions of stars before it becomes one stable system. The nucleus of an atom is just so small in comparison to the space the atom takes up due to its electron shell... and of course the event horizon for such a small black hole would be incredibly small (much smaller then the original particles). The belief is that if despite all odds a stable black hole was created and fell into the ground, the sun would go nova before we noticed anything wrong with the earth because of the black hole. In conclusion, a small black hole probably can't exist. Well, at least on the several atoms scale. Even if it can exist (we don't really know for sure that it can't) it won't do any real damage to earth. I guess flinging black holes into space might not be a great idea on the multi-billion year scale, but within the probable lifespan of humanity probably nobody would notice.

Not to worry, it would have already happened (2, Informative)

ebers (816511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060438)

Physicists are hoping that they will see signs of tiny black holes forming and instantly evaporating. If they can be produced by the energies of the LHC, then they are already being produced in the upper atmosphere by high energy cosmic rays, which have far more energy per particle (up to 10^20 eV) than what the LHC can do. (7*10^12 eV). see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-high-energy_cos mic_ray [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not to worry, it would have already happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060760)

It's not as obvious as "10^20 > 10^12, therefore cosmic rays would have created them by now".

The amount of energy available to create new particles is governed by the total energy of the incoming particle and its target, as measured in their center of momentum frame. The LHC is a collider, so all of that 7 TeV is available to create particles. But an incoming cosmic ray of energy 10^20 eV striking an atmospheric atom has an energy in the cosmic ray-atom center of momentum frame which is proportional to the square root of its energy in the Earth's rest frame (see here [wikipedia.org]); i.e., on the order of only sqrt(10^20) or 3 x 10^10 eV.

So, crudely, the LHC at energies of ~10^13 eV can be more effective at producing new particles than ultra high energy cosmic ray (UHECR) atmospheric showers at 10^20 eV.

However, I've read [arxiv.org] that cosmic rays with center-of-momentum energies of ~10^14 eV have been observed, so I think those proportionality constants I'm ignoring will turn out to matter, and that UHECR particle production energies are more significant than LHC (but only by an order of magnitude or so). For a more detailed discussion of black hole production, try Landsberg's review [arxiv.org], or Ringwald and Tu [arxiv.org].

Incidentally, for doomsday worriers [bnl.gov], Hut and Rees [nature.com] showed back in 1984 that it is likely that two such cosmic rays have struck each other in our past (not the Earth's atmosphere) — essentially an ad-hoc collider experiment — which means a center of momentum energy ~10^20 eV. So we're safe from the universe-destroying scenarios (like tunneling out of a false vacuum), since our universe hasn't ended yet, but not necessarily from black hole production (which we would not have necessarily noticed before now).

Re:Not to worry, it would have already happened (1)

ebers (816511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060848)


Yes, you are right, it needs a high momentum target. My bad.
_________________
It's not as obvious as "10^20 > 10^12, therefore cosmic rays would have created them by now".

The amount of energy available to create new particles is governed by the total energy of the incoming particle and its target, as measured in their center of momentum frame. The LHC is a collider, so all of that 7 TeV is available to create particles. But an incoming cosmic ray of energy 10^20 eV striking an atmospheric atom has an energy in the cosmic ray-atom center of momentum frame which is proportional to the square root of its energy in the Earth's rest frame (see here); i.e., on the order of only sqrt(10^20) or 3 x 10^10 eV.

Re:Black holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060514)

Say what you like about black hole experiments going hideously wrong - to me those photos look like they'd make an awesome Halflife level.

Re:Black holes (2, Interesting)

Kabuthunk (972557) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060560)

Even if a tiny black hole were to be created, it would likely disappear almost instanteously via Hawking Radiation. See Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for details.

The concerns regarding it however are:
Creation of a stable black hole
Creation of strange matter that is more stable than ordinary matter
Creation of magnetic monopoles that could catalyze proton decay
Triggering a transition into a different quantum mechanical vacuum

Wikipedia mentions the black hole would likely disappear, but it didn't mention anything regarding the others.

Re:Black holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060746)

I wish they'd just wipe out humanity and get it over with. It's the waiting I can't stand.

Re:Black holes (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060770)

Is this the collider that could possibly create a black hole that would destroy the planet?

Definietly. If there aren't any black holes near by, it is inevitable that a Large Hard-On Collider would create them, swordfights get old fast...

Go ahead and mod me down for being juvenile, I deserve it. But this story is so ripe with opportunity for homoerotic innuendo that I can't help but make a crack or two.

Re:Black holes (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060808)

These concerns were already raised with the startup of RHIC. Nothing has happened yet (although that doesn't mean that nothing will happen). Cosmic rays, however, have much higher energies, and when they collide with other particles (for instance, molecules of our atmosphere), much higher energy densities are reached. This has been going on for billions of years, and nothing has happened yet, which suggests that the probability of LHC or RHIC causing such an event are almost certainly exceedingly small.

Jumbonium smasher! (4, Funny)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060194)

I was wondering when we'd have the equipment to smash the world's largest atom!

Re:Jumbonium smasher! (1)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060272)

Why blow a chance at all those tourist dollars? A lot of people would pay good money to see the World's Largest Atom. Locate it next to a Dairy Queen and it'd be a perfect stop during those long drives through, say, Kansas. Wait... do Kansans believe in atoms?

Re:Jumbonium smasher! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060786)

Wait... do Kansans believe in atoms?

      Of course they do. What they DON'T believe in is radioactive decay...

Politics of high-end theoretical physics (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060206)

I hear they're trying to pass a law in congress defining a traditional meson as being between one quark and one anti-quark.

the FIRST post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060220)

Recent reviews from Slashdot readers:

        * The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved looks at the last 150 years of math development, with a focus on group theory and its impact. (Joe Kauzlarich's review)
        * The Areas of My Expertise is a great assorted set of lists, data and other odd pieces of data. Great reading in the bathroom or plane riders (Peter Wayner's review)
        * Write Portable Code does an excellent job of explaining how to write code for multiple environments and variant systems. (Simon P. Chappell's review)

***hail to the chief***

fnal.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060322)

So is Fermi [fnal.gov] the second largest?

In the mean time.... (5, Interesting)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060336)

HEP research in the United States is grinding to a halt. The DOE has nothing on the board for Fermilab, SLAC, etc. past 2010. While I admire and respect the work the Europeans are doing ( with little help from the US ), I am deeply concerned that this nation is losing its way. Basic R&D is the foundation that made the US what it was in the 20th century. We are doing less and less of it everyday. Unless the Clowns^H^H^H^H^HEsteemed politicians in Washington wake up soon, the US will soon become a second rate nation.

Re:In the mean time.... (1)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060420)

I think it's probably a bit past their wake up time actually. An argument could easily be made that the US is already a second rate nation whose residents continues to live a first rate life thanks to their rapidly eroding credit rating. It won't be long before reality comes calling.

 

Re:In the mean time.... (4, Funny)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060494)

That's because there's no good way to "monetize" physics. If the particle-accelerator crowd wants funding they need to find a way to:

1. Allow teenagers to upload videos to the accelerator 2. Allow teenagers to download ringtones from the accelerator 3. Allow teenagers to instant-message entangled particles on the other side of the universe

Re:In the mean time.... (1)

starwed (735423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060590)

Interestingly enough, I've heard that SLAC gets some of their funding from private companies now, (Microsoft, Google, etc...), on the order of a few hundred million dollars.

Re:In the mean time.... (5, Interesting)

Markus Registrada (642224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060656)

If high-energy-physicists had any questions they wanted answers to, there might be more reason to invest in expensive toys for them. As it happens, they all seem tied up doing string theory, which (notoriously) offers no predictions to test.

In the meantime, condensed-matter physicists, fluid-dynamic physicists, and plasma physicists (not to mention meteorologists, metabolic geneticists, and what-have-you) have never swung the kind of budgets you get, evidently, from having made an atom bomb once, despite that each group have collectively produced far more positive and far fewer negative effects on our daily lives.

(No, I'm not in any of those groups.)

Astronomers sometimes do swing big budgets, but they deliver astonishingly pretty pictures of stuff that really is out there -- however much they prefer to talk about stuff that's not in the pictures. Long after they've all changed their minds about the latter, we'll still have the pictures.

Speaking personally (and at deep risk of spiteful moderation) I wouldn't mind a century-long hiatus in particle-accelerator funding. There's plenty of science to be done by regular grad students at regular workbenches, and to much greater (perhaps even beneficial!) effect.

Mod Parent Up, Please (4, Informative)

littlewink (996298) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060910)

The parent makes a point that should be stressed.

High-energy physics has reached a point where the cost-effectiveness of larger particle accelerators is questionable. And building a particle accelerator that could test string theory is both technically and economically impossible today.

Astrophysicist David Lindley wrote The End of Physics: The Myth of a Unified Theory [amazon.com], a book that explains the current state of affairs in high-energy physics and astrophysics.

As for string theory, Lindley doesn't take sides in the book. He merely explains the evolution of high-energy physics and astrophysics and points out how theory in both fields has become less and less based on experimental and observational data and more and more based on simplifying theoretical assumptions.

Re:In the mean time.... (1)

bjorniac (836863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061636)

You mean questions like:

Why is there symmetry breaking in the electro-weak interaction?
Does the Higgs particle actually exist?
If the Higgs exists (which a lot of high energy folk seem to believe) does its mass bear any resemblance to supersymmetry theories?
Can we find evidence of dark matter?

Now, I know that some people think these questions can't be answered by the LHC, but it's possible that some of them can. I'm not a HEP guy, in fact I'd quite like their funding to be used elsewhere too, but I do think that there are some valid issues they'd like to look at, and who knows, maybe they'll find something new entirely...

Re:More research? (4, Funny)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061322)

The reason why research is slowly grinding to a halt in the United States is because the people of the United States have finaly realized that you do not have to spend billions of dollars to get the answers to 'life the universe and every thing else". Just go to the holy book of your choice. The answers are all there.

Higgs boson (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060380)

So, how long until we discover the mass of the Higgs boson, thus compressing the Earth down to the size of a pea [wikipedia.org]?

Am I reading this wrong? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060382)

Or does it really say "if the information doesn't prove what we want it to, we'll ignore it"?

-"The math alone here is staggering. Somewhere between 600 million and 1 billion collisions will take place each second. Each will leave its mark in the detectors, but the vast majority will be irrelevant to the scientists' goals. Computerized triggers will thus record a specific event only if it matches a predetermined set of conditions, and throw out the rest."

Re:Am I reading this wrong? (1)

vonmeth (656965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060540)

No it does not say that, it says "will thus record a specific event only if it matches a predetermined set of conditions". If you already know about a specific particle or have recorded a similiar 'event' you will have no need to record it as you already know about it. We are trying to discover new particles that we believe to actually be there. In other words, it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Why record/keep each piece of straw when you are trying to find a needle?

Re:Am I reading this wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060626)

Ok, so what they will ignore is the previously known information?

If they are specifically seeking this set of conditions, and ignoring unknown data that simply doesnt fit, I think that's somewhat biased...
What if they threw away information that disproves what they are looking for? Or challenges it, or provides an insight?

I dunno, it's all speculation for me, since I know pretty much nothing about physics or even what they are trying to find. That paragraph just stuck out to me as being kind of ambiguous.

Re:Am I reading this wrong? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060740)

specifically seeking this set of conditions, and ignoring unknown data that simply doesnt fit, I think that's somewhat biased...

      Yes, it is biased. Imagine you have a bag filled with 100,000,000 marbles. 99,999,999 of them are green. Only one of them is blue. You could swear that you had a blue marble in there. What are you going to do? Empty the sack and ignore all the green marbles until you find the blue one - right?

Re:Am I reading this wrong? (1)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061250)


specifically seeking this set of conditions, and ignoring unknown data that simply doesnt fit, I think that's somewhat biased...

No, not quite -

It's like you want to study the eating habits of 500 lb people. However, there's just too many skinny people to record. So, you ignore the eating habits of people under 400 lbs. Sure, it's possible that all the scales in the world are wrong and all people who are weighed at 100 lbs are actually 500 lbs, but that risk is considered acceptable.

The hardware level triggers and software reconstructors of CMS and ATLAS will cull out low energy events. There's an extremely small probability that something interesting in low energy events (1 in a trillion?); there's a better probability (1/10000 perhaps) that something interesting happened in high energy collisions. If you had to throw one out due to the amount of storage space you had available, which would you record?

Re:Am I reading this wrong? (1)

carpeweb (949895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060816)

I was intending to post the same question/observation. My guess is that TFA just didn't write that passage very well.

You can help! (2, Informative)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060406)

This is an absolutely amazing project. Forget the space program; forget SETI--if this thing works as designed, pure science will gain more in 2008 than it did in the previous decade. But, they need your help! The energy output for this thing is just incredible that if an entire beam were to go off-course and hit the wall of the accelerator, there would be a rather sizable explosion. Even smaller errors can add up, damaging the accelerator over time. The LHC@home project [web.cern.ch] lets you donate your spare CPU cycles to help calibrate the machine in order to minimize the risk of accidental wall collisions. Come on, I know there must be some physics geeks out there... show your support! Given the sorry state of pure science research in the USA, this may be your only chance...

Your broken computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060686)

just caused LHC to explode...

Re:You can help! (4, Informative)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060792)

The energy output for this thing is just incredible that if an entire beam were to go off-course and hit the wall of the accelerator, there would be a rather sizable explosion.

Huh? You're making that up. Completely making that up. Compute particle energy x number of particles in the loop, it's nothing in macroscopic terms. LHC will be capable of heavy ion collisions at energy levels of 1150 teraelectron volts, which sounds really impressive (and it is, on the quantum scale), but here in the big world that's only one ten-thousandth of a joule.

Re:You can help! (1)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060912)

Well, I'm paraphrasing an uncited Wikipedia article. Slightly better than making it up, but (possibly) not by much. From the article:

"The size of the LHC constitutes an exceptional engineering challenge with unique safety issues. While running, the total energy stored in the magnets is 10 GJ, and in the beam, 725 MJ. Loss of only 107 of the beam is sufficient to quench a superconducting magnet, while the beam dump must discharge an energy equivalent to a considerable quantity of explosives."

Re:You can help! (1)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061206)

The energy release if one of the SC magnets quenches is an entirely different matter from what would happen from the beam hitting the wall. Your post conveyed the image of a near-solid beam of ions crashing into the wall of the collider at close-to-c and making a big boom. That doesn't happen, and LHC@home isn't trying to simulate the beam for that reason.

Before you go rushing in... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061670)

This is an absolutely amazing project. Forget the space program; forget SETI--if this thing works as designed, pure science will gain more in 2008 than it did in the previous decade. But, they need your help! The energy output for this thing is just incredible that if an entire beam were to go off-course and hit the wall of the accelerator, there would be a rather sizable explosion. Even smaller errors can add up, damaging the accelerator over time. The LHC@home [lhcathome.cern.ch] project lets you donate your spare CPU cycles to help calibrate the machine in order to minimize the risk of accidental wall collisions. Come on, I know there must be some physics geeks out there... show your support! Given the sorry state of pure science research in the USA, this may be your only chance...

Before you go rushing off, a word of warning... LHC@Home is just barely this side of an being an ex-parrot. With the near completion of the magnet system, work come in spurts with considerable time between them. (If you already run BOINC [berkeley.edu], it's quite suitable as a side project. If you don't already run BOINC, please consider also running one of the other available projects [boinc-wiki.ath.cx].)

LHC@home (5, Informative)

burrows (112035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060616)

It may be worth noting that some of the design work on this amazing project was actually done by Slashdot readers with no background in particle accelerators. LHC@home [lhcathome.cern.ch] is a distributed computing project using the SixTrack program that helps simulate particles' travel in the accelerator to study the stability of their orbits. It has been critical data to the scientists that have been working on the project.

People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060642)

are split over the building of this machine. Personally, I don't see what it will achieve. Some people think that they shouldn't be thinking small scale.

Large Hadron Collider (3, Funny)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060678)

Interesting, no one in this thread has "misspelt" it yet as the large hardon collider.

Large Hardon Collider (1)

geneing (756949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061334)

Here you go :)

Who came up with the name like Hadron for the elementary particles? What was s/he thinking?

The Hardon Colider is in San Francisco, isn't it?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17061704)

Just Curious...

Better name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060750)

was I the only one that first read large hadron as Large Hard-on collider? they'd probably get more publicity if they just changed the name. think about it: "Small particles travel through Large Hard-on."

Not very accurate (2, Informative)

parrillada (264680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060812)

From the article:
"The LHC will reach an unprecedented level of energy called the Terascale (a trillion electron volts [...] This is unexplored territory, not only because no laboratory has ever reached this high..."

The Tevatron (the largest particle accelerator in the USA) has a CM evergy of 2 trillion electron volts (TeV). That, incidentally, is where it gets its name: the TEVatron.

The only black-hole created here... (1)

zitintheass (1005533) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060818)

Is the money-hole absorbing hefty chunks of EU tax money that end up funding this RIDICULOUS experimentation.

Well it's a good thing they put it in France... (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060844)

Because if it doesn't work out, they can use it for a mushroom farm...

Expanding on that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17061358)

Some readers may be unaware that some of the tunnels of the Maginot line were eventually used for mushroom farms...and may still be for all I know.

Superconducting Super Collider (3, Informative)

Mr.Sharpy (472377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060964)

What is unfortunate is that the superconducting super collider, cancelled 13 (!!) years ago, would have had an energy level nearly three times higher than the LHC. Had it not been canceled in favor of the ISS, it would have been completed by now and working to answer the questions of the universe. The U.S. is losing (already lost?) its edge.

Re:Superconducting Super Collider (1)

NokX (921152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061648)

http://www.sns.gov/ [sns.gov] The Spallation Neutron Source is an accelerator-based neutron source in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. At full power, the SNS will provide the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development. Completed in May 2006, SNS is ramping up to its full-power capability of 1.4 MW. Initial users are expected in fall 2006.

Linux (0, Troll)

tr1907 (1029408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061076)

Does it run Linux?

Re:Linux (1)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061238)

The HEP community was one of the first large scale users of Linux. Bob Young, of RedHat fame, even credits Fermilab for some of the earliest momentum in the adoption of Linux by "serious" users.

big bang? (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061290)

The article says the collider should be able to duplicate conditions just after the Big Bang. We're only guessing about conditions after the Big Bang and we don't know what caused the event. So how do we know they won't reproduce conditions just before the Big Bang? Oops... At least in Schild's Ladder [amazon.com], civilization had time to run like hell.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...