I don’t quite recall all the details, but over Christmas i heard tale of crank calling the people running the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, pretending to be representatives of the Japanese Emperor. The punch line escapes me now, but the idea obviously stuck with me…
In the news this morning is this little gem:
A new study of Mini-black holes generated by the Large Hadron Collider suggests they could decay over a period of more than one second, according to Roberto Casadio at the Universita di Bologna and associates, raising concerns with some physicists.
which suggests that, at the very least, there are still plenty of unknowns out there. Doubt it’ll be enough to make anyone reconsider the judiciousness of eventually getting the thing fired up. Part of me wants to believe that the physicists understand the energy scales well enough to be confident that they aren’t going to tear a hole in the universe. However, another part of me knows that we / they obviously don’t know enough (read that link, it’s good / funny / insightful) about quantum physics to be sure – or why would this experiment be necessary?!
Anyway, all this bought back my (drunken) reaction to all this: perhaps civilisations develop to the point where they are capable of building a Large Hadron Collider, and whether they fire it up determines their true level of advancement. We never really did understand what triggers the big bang process…
The precautionary principle be damned?
[Yes, yes, i know; people will die if they travel faster than 30mph; nobody will ever need more than 640KB; etc. but this is somewhat larger gambit. Are we now powerful enough to mess with the fabric of the universe? How sure are you about that…]