Why the Large Hadron Collider scares me a little


The Large Hadron Collider has been in the news a lot lately. It seems a couple of guys are trying to put a stop to it, because they’re worried it might, you know, destroy the entire planet.

As existing is one of the things I rather enjoy, this topic was of interest to me.

The smart guys who I trust to look in to these things on my behalf have done so. I really really wanna believe that CERN and the world’s most brilliant physicists know what they’re doing. I usually have no problem fully believing that the smart people know what they’re doing. But everything I’m reading seems to indicate that anything bad happening is extremely unlikely. Huh. Extremely unlikely.

But then some tiny, tiny (no really, tiny) chance exists that something bad could happen? Because when the possible consequences are things like the world ending, I’d feel better if the odds were, say, absolutely zero chance that something bad could happen.

I’m probably getting worried over nothing. It just seems that this is all such highly theoretical territory that’s being discussed. Occasionally when you run an experiment, you produce something new that you never in your wildest dreams expected – and then you have to come up with an explanation… and science marches on. Is it possible that with the LHC, things will happen that they couldn’t account for with our current knowledge of physics?

EDIT (9/18/2008): Since LHC doomsday fears have continued to escalate, I wanted to add that I just wanted to comment on the whole “odds are we won’t destroy the world” position, which I find as humorous, and I’m not trying to add to any of the ridiculous fearmongering.


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