The Future of Physics
The Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and
highest-energy particle accelerator complex, intended to collide
opposing beams of protons or lead, two of several types of hadrons, at
up to 99.99 percent the speed of light.
The LHC was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and lies underneath the Franco-Swiss border between the Jura Mountains and the Alps near Geneva, Switzerland. It is funded by and built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy physics, including the existence of the hypothesized Higgs boson.
Large Hadron Collider -- Chalk Talk - NSF video
Are The Experiments Planned at the LHC Safe?
Could experiments at the Large Hadron Collider produce a man-made black hole? Is the LHC a doomsday device?
What types of phenomena could result from the world's most powerful experiments?
Microscopic black holes
Although I tried to understand strangelets, vacuum bubbles and the other objects that physicists speculate could result from LHC experiments, it is darn near impossible to find extra research time during the NASCAR season.
With my limited knowledge of physics, I have no choice but to put my trust in the majority of scientists that have stated there is no risk of LHC experiments creating man-made black holes or strangelets that will devour the Earth.
The problem is that there may not be a scientist anywhere that knows with certainty what to expect from these unprecedented experiments. As far as I can tell, physicists around the world do not agree on a single "theory of everything", and our current laws of physics do not exactly fit the quantum world. Scientists are anxiously awaiting the LHC experiments to help them find those answers.
I read in one of the articles linked below, that "we need the LHC experiments because there has not been a significant breakthrough in physics in over 30 years". My question is, what's the rush? Why can't we wait for the next Newton or Einstein to come along to develop theories that could more accurately predict the outcome of these experiments?
I would feel much more at ease if physicists could say, "So and so is what we expect to happen and these tests will prove it."
Instead of, "If string theory is correct, we should see... If not, maybe we'll find..."
"Strangelet production is therefore less likely..."
If and less likely should never be in the same article as doomsday.
Unfortunately, the people at the LHC do not seem overly concerned about my fears. If they were, they could have started out by calling the project something a little less ominous like--The Big Hadron Get Together. They also could have hired a spin doctor, like the politicians do, to soften the blow when mishaps occur. The headline 'Magnet Meltdown at the LHC', could have read 'Proton Party Gathers Steam'. I wouldn't be any safer, but I would sleep better.
What I find most unsettling, is that technologies like the Large Hadron Collider, nanotechnology and biotechnology, are moving forward at near-light speed, whether I feel they are dangerous to humanity or not--and for the record, I do.
Links and articles
I can easily imagine the things I could do if I had an invisibility cloak. However, the only solid objects I have ever seen disappear are the Statue of Liberty* and one quick-footed blind date. Soon, thanks to new metamaterials and fabrication techniques, we may all get a glimpse at the invisible.
How to Build a Wormhole
Wouldn't it be nice to have a wormhole of your own? You could build one end at your front door and the other end at your school or office. It turns out that it is not all that difficult. All you need is a decent sized neutron star, an electrical outlet (one of those 3 hole jobs), extension cords and of course, plenty of duct tape.
NASA's recipe for a wormhole:
First, collect a whole bunch of super-dense matter, such as matter from a neutron star. Enough to construct a ring the size of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Then build another ring where you want the other end of your wormhole. Next, charge 'em up to some incredible voltage, and spin them up to near the speed of light -- both of them.
Step through worm hole. Adjust your watch if necessary as you may have arrived before you left.
Disclaimer: FFA is not responsible for the destruction of any universe or galaxies therein.
Find out more at NASA
Breaking the Law
Before anti-gravity snow boarding can appear at the next Olympics, someone has to figure out exactly what gravity is. There is still a lot that we don't know. But we have come a long way since Newton. Scientists are now working on breaking, or at least bending, the laws of gravity by creating gravity shields, gravity reflectors and mass-reducers.
Check out this heavy list of gravity sites:
The Antigravity Underground - wired.com