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Con-CERN

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:45 am
by Gordon Neill
I just noticed that the world might be ending in a few minutes. There’s an experiment going on underneath some Swiss mountains to recreate the big bang, or at least a small big bang. For decades, scientists have thought that it would be really neat to see what would happen if they recreated the biggest explosion to ever happen in the universe ever.

For the past 13 years, they’ve been building something called the Hadron Large Collider, a 27 km tunnel several storeys high (or low, I suppose). Apparently, they get these two Hadrons like and, you know, they get them to collide. And then they blow up and that. Quite why the tunnel needs to be so large, I’m not sure. I would have thought that the smaller the tunnel the easier it would be to get these Hadron things to bump into each other and explode (like, say, the opening day of the sales at Harrods).

Some spoilsports have said that it has all cost a fortune and the money would have been better spent encouraging Sun readers to pretend to enjoy opera. But Professor Blofeld, the mastermind behind this project, has pointed out that the project has, literally, only cost peanuts (the £125 million per year that Britain spends on peanuts, multiplied by infinity). And in any case, he has argued, while adjusting his monocle, ‘what is the value of money when you are all doomed, doomed I say.’

Other killjoys have suggested that it is a venture into the unknown and risks destroying the Earth and pop music as we know it. Blofeld has sought to reassure the public that ‘This is being blown out of all proportion, or at least it soon will be.’ He then laughed in quite a strange way and several trainee reporters started to cry a bit. Boyzone have also stepped into the controversy, expressing concern that it could interfere with their comeback tour. The spoilsports have then changed their mind and said that they get it now and have even suggested that it might be a good idea to have a back-up doomsday machine as you can never be too careful.

The thing is, no-one’s quite sure what will happen Blofeld stops stroking his white pussy cat and hits the red button marked ‘destroy everything’. It could be then end of life as we know it. On the other hand, it could be the start of a brand new universe. In billions of years time, a giant white pussy cat could be stroking a little bald man and about to hit a red button marked ‘destroy everything very slowly.’ It makes you think.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:22 am
by howard male
Gordon wrote -

...and risks destroying the Earth and pop music as we know it.


Pop music as we know it!! Shhhhhhiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrt! (as they say on The Wire)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:25 pm
by Con Murphy
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:38 pm
by CantSleepClownsWillGetMe
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Nah ... not much chance of scientists recreating the Big Bang this morning I'm afraid. Today's tests involved them firing particles in one or t'other direction only, so no collision and therefore no attempt to recreate conditions as they were believed to be moments after the Big Bang.

The day to worry about pop music will be some time around October 21st, when either i) scientists will accelerate particles in both directions simultaneously, causing them (the particles, not the scientists) to collide at speeds of around 99.9999% of the speed of light, or ii) when James Blunt releases his new album.

I know which one I'm rooting for.

J

Does James Blunt have a point?

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:11 pm
by Gordon Neill
Of course they could just fire James Blunt in both directions simultaneously. Or I suppose there's that actor called Rip Torn. But I know which one I'm rooting for.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:13 pm
by Con Murphy
CantSleepClownsWillGetMe wrote:The day to worry about pop music will be some time around October 21st, when either i) scientists will accelerate particles in both directions simultaneously, causing them (the particles, not the scientists) to collide at speeds of around 99.9999% of the speed of light, or ii) when James Blunt releases his new album.

I know which one I'm rooting for.

J


According to scientists, the energy released by a James Blunt album is the equivalent to a mosquito letting out a light guff on a summer's day, so I don't think there's anything to worry about there.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:51 pm
by Gordon Moore
I was half hoping that the date today 10/9/8 might well have entered the lexicon of famous dates as in 9/11 or 8/8. Of course this would only apply to not the USA and would only have been famous for one femto second.

However, much to my disappointment the big event was only to turn the flippin thing on and see an electron cause a phosper screen to glow slightly. I think they have invented something called television. (Well noted Clowns)

I thought the countdown was a bit worrying, in particular the Blofeld laugh - no Mr Bond I expect you all to die!

Well, after all the build up, I think this must have been the biggest non event of the year, century, millenia, aeon? I was also half expecting Zaphod, Arthur and Ford to turn up.

I think the best question was something along the lines of: how does it feel to be Welsh and responsible for the end of the planet?

Wot a larf.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:46 pm
by Gordon Neill
Yes, rather than a big bang, it was just a damp squib. As far as I can see, all we got was a minor earthquake in Southern Iran and Obama dropped a bit of a clanger. Presumably, once the valves have warmed up properly, we'll get something a bit more thrilling.

Incidentally, Gordon Moore referred to a:

femto


I'd assumed that it was just a typo (understandable in all the excitement) but it turns out that it's an SI prefix (symbol f) in the SI system of units denoting a factor of 10−15 or 0.000 000 000 000 001. I think it was developed to try and measure the proportion of the general population who actually like Trout Mask Replica. It comes from the Danish word femten, meaning fifteen. Or did you all know that already?

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:56 pm
by Gordon Neill
I just realised that I referred to the SI prefixes, without actually explaining what they were. This was simply due to my eagerness to raise the level of scientific discussion in this thread and to my having no idea what they are anyway. Here's what I'd like to think is a self-explanatory table. I like the way it shows quite a purty curve.

1000m 10n Prefix Symbol Since[1] Short scale Long scale Decimal
10008 1024 yotta- Y 1991 Septillion Quadrillion 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
10007 1021 zetta- Z 1991 Sextillion Trilliard 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
10006 1018 exa- E 1975 Quintillion Trillion 1 000 000 000 000 000 000
10005 1015 peta- P 1975 Quadrillion Billiard 1 000 000 000 000 000
10004 1012 tera- T 1960 Trillion Billion 1 000 000 000 000
10003 109 giga- G 1960 Billion Milliard 1 000 000 000
10002 106 mega- M 1960 Million 1 000 000
10001 103 kilo- k 1795 Thousand 1 000
10002/3 102 hecto- h 1795 Hundred 100
10001/3 101 deca- da 1795 Ten 10
10000 100 (none) (none) NA One 1
1000−1/3 10−1 deci- d 1795 Tenth 0.1
1000−2/3 10−2 centi- c 1795 Hundredth 0.01
1000−1 10−3 milli- m 1795 Thousandth 0.001
1000−2 10−6 micro- µ 1960[2] Millionth 0.000 001
1000−3 10−9 nano- n 1960 Billionth Milliardth 0.000 000 001
1000−4 10−12 pico- p 1960 Trillionth Billionth 0.000 000 000 001
1000−5 10−15 femto- f 1964 Quadrillionth Billiardth 0.000 000 000 000 001
1000−6 10−18 atto- a 1964 Quintillionth Trillionth 0.000 000 000 000 000 001
1000−7 10−21 zepto- z 1991 Sextillionth Trilliardth 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 001
1000−8 10−24 yocto- y 1991 Septillionth Quadrillionth 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 001

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:58 pm
by Chris P
Gordon Neill wrote:the general population


are there any human beings alive who do not fall under this terminology - and if there are some who don't, who are they ?

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:03 pm
by Gordon Neill
Chris Potts asked:

are there any human beings alive who do not fall under this terminology


I've always assumed that the phrase refers to everyone apart from people who like 'Trout Mask Replica'.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:14 pm
by Chris P
Gordon Neill wrote:the proportion of the general population who actually like Trout Mask Replica


I've collided and crunched your figures, but if a human being is made up of just less than 7 million atoms (which is likely way out)*, then somewhere in the world there is one atom of a member of the 'general public' that likes TMR.

* actually 7 x 10 to the power of 27 (or 7,000 Septillion Quadrillions if you prefer): so I think somewhere there is a whole TMR digging leg in the general population, in fact I think I spotted it once when gazing out of a train window, but it darted behind a shrub and I couldn't be 100% sure.

Starting to ramble..

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:44 pm
by Gordon Neill
Chris Potts concluded that:

somewhere in the world there is one atom of a member of the 'general public' that likes TMR


Not 'somewhere', it's in the Hadron Large Collider. Scientists have known for a long time that only 4% of the noise in Trout Mask Replica is 'visible'. The rest is dark matter (23%) and dark energy (73%). Physicists think the Hadron Large Collider could provide clues about the nature of this mysterious "stuff". The currently favoured model involves a particle called the Higgs boson - dubbed the "God Awful Particle". If successful, scientists hope that, over many years, they will be able to find the hidden tunes and understand the universal laws of physics which bring nerds and unlistenable crap together.

Re: Starting to ramble..

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:55 pm
by Chris P
Gordon Neill wrote:the universal laws of physics which bring nerds and unlistenable crap together.


calm down dear it's only a commotion !

http://www.myspace.com/higgsbosonkipsbay

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:18 pm
by Gordon Neill
Ah, thanks for that link, Chris. I've read about chaos theory but I've never actually heard it before.