'Tard of the Week - LHC Doomsayers

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In an astonishing turn of events, operators of CERN's Large Hadron Collider managed to collide two protons this week and the world didn't end in a maelstrom of black holes.

Betcha feel stupid now, huh?

Don't worry, doomsayers - the LHC will come up to full power by Christmas, so I'm sure there's still plenty of time for all of us to die a horrible, squishy death and for you to be COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED in your MASSIVE KNOWLEDGE of all things PARTICLE PHYSICS. ::wink:wink::


CERN Scientists rejoice that they did not, in fact, destroy the world by sucking the earth and all its inhabitants into a black hole. Except that young woman in the lower right-hand corner. She was evidently hoping the black hole would act as her personal Calgon and take her away. Bummer, dude.

31 comments:

John the Scientist said...

Jeebuz H. Key-rist on a chrome plated moped, you had to stir that cesspool with stick again, didn't you? :D

Hey, I've been put on the trail of a new set of 'tards that make Wally look sane, AND they're doing it in the medical sphere where they are actually hurting people.

Just you wait, I've still got some more reading to do to finish loading one of my patented scientific shotguns, but when I cut loose... :D

Janiece said...

John, I cannot resist the low-road when it comes to the dumbasses being proven wrong. You know this, and yet you're surprised? Tsk, tsk.

As for your 'tards, all I can say is "LALALALA! I can't hear you!" I get enough wackadoos around here without you "helping" me.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

2012. The END OF THE WORLD. Those Mayans were so far advanced, we don't even know. But meanwhile, let those silly scientists fool around with their toys. Just you all wait. You'll see....

Janiece said...

MG, you're earning a spanking. I shall notify the Mechanicky Guy forthwith.

lunnunis said...

I disagree with you, so I guess I'm welcome. People who critique the LHC are not mad or stupid - most of us are highly intelligent. I'm not a scientist but I'm a sane sensible woman and a logical thinker. There are reasons not to mess with that stuff until we find out more (safely) first. But I doubt you will stop smugly revelling in your 'superior' position long enough to find out what the real issues are.

brenda113 said...

Just what I was going to say! It's not till 2012, Janiece! You should know that! The movie already showed us. Cummon.....!
It is when the Hadron collider collides THREE protons together that the black hole ensues. THAT will happen in 2012!

Janiece said...

lunnunis, you might have been welcome here if you hadn't started your communication with me with a perfectly gratuitous insult and an incredible lack of background on this issue and it's context on this site.

While I do not feel I owe you an explanation for my snark, I will tell you that I have no issue with those who critique the LHC from a knowledgeable position. Because we're talking about particle physics, then, yes, that means a scientist. And not just any scientist - a particle physicist. That means, for example, that while I respect John the Scientist's opinion in his field of study, his opinion is only slightly more qualified than a layman in this case. Because particle physicists, who have done the work and really do understand the issues (hint: that's not you if you're not a particle physicist), are the only people who are qualified to have an opinion. Particle physics isn't something you can learn doing experiments at your kitchen table, regardless of how intelligent you think you are.

So from my perspective, your opinion on this issue doesn't mean shit. But I'm not an equal opportunity offender - MY opinion on this issue doesn't mean shit, either.

What I object to (and what you might have realized, had you done even the simplest Google search using the key words "LHC" on the site www.hotchicksdigsmartmen.com) is completely unqualified mouth breathers warning about the end of the world by black hole when they clearly don't have a detailed understanding of the science.

So yes - people who disagree with me are indeed welcome here. Especially if they are intelligent, engage in critical thought and a sound understanding of the scientific method, and take the time to find out what I'm about before they choose to engage in insulting behavior in my on-line home. But that doesn't really describe you, does it?

brenda113 said...

My remark was meant to agree with Mechanicky Gal, Janiece. Bad timing on my part.....

Janiece said...

Brenda, I assumed that was the case. No harm, no foul...

vince said...

Oh noes! You start smashing them funny little particle thingies around and you're sure to get a witches brew of black holes or something like that.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

As long as they get their experiments done before 2012, nothing bad can happen.

And nothing bad can happen before the rapture.

The girl in the picture had the 'world is going to end' bet in the office pool.

Nathan said...

But how the hell do you collect on the "world is going to end" bet? If you bet on "world will not end", you either collect or just welsh on it by not being around anymore.

Talk about a sure thing.

And I was rooting for just a teenie-tiny black hole -- in Hawaii. :D

Juan Federico said...

Where do you find this stuff! Hilarious! Thank you Janiece :)

John the Scientist said...

Well, Janiece, I have to disagree just a little bit. Arguments eventually have to be made in such a way that scientists in related disciplines can assess the quality of debate - we can't have particle physics as a separate entity within science answerable only to itself.

That being said those disciplines have to be closely related because going up the math learning curve in that space is not easy.

Fortunately for us laypeople, even if the mathematics surrounding the debate on Hawking Radiation is difficult to penetrate, there are a couple of arguments are accessible even to the layman, one only has to look at the observed data for cosmic rays and follow the logic.

This paper is the most comprehensive, while presenting arguments that the layman can understand.

First, this one:

We estimate that the Universe is replicating the total number of collisions to be made by the LHC over 10^13 times per second, and has already done so some 10^31 times since the origin of the Universe. The fact that astronomical bodies withstand cosmic-ray bombardment imposes strong upper limits on many hypothetical sources of danger.

Translation: the universe has generated 10 nonillion (yes, that's a real name for the number) times the number of particle collisions that the LHC will generate in its entire existence. Not per year, not per decade, over it's entire lifetime.

If black holes were created with any frequency, we would see older astronomical bodies such as neutron stars being eaten by them. We do not.

If that's not enough:

The area of the Earth’s surface is about 5×1018 square centimeters, and the age of the Earth is about 4.5 billion years. Therefore, over 3×10^22 cosmic rays with energies of 10^17 eV or more, equal to or greater than the LHC energy, have struck the Earth’s surface since its formation. This means [6] that Nature has already conducted the equivalent of about a hundred thousand LHC experimental programmes on Earth already – and the planet still exists.

The Earth has been hit by 100,000 times the number of high energy particles the LHC will generate over its entire lifetime. What's the danger in the 100,001st cohort?

When you can answer that question rationally, then you can sit at the adult's table. Otherwise, even if your theorists weren't bonkers (and the Onscreen Scientist has taken down Plaga, I've taken down Rossler, and no one else in your silly little crowd of Henny Pennys even comes close to having a real graduate degree) the observational evidence does not bear out your concerns.

Janiece said...

John, you're welcome to disagree, of course, and I certainly don't mean to imply that your ideas don't have merit.

However, I do think it's fair to say that you're not an expert, either in risk assessment and management (a discipline in its own right), or in particle physics. It may rub you the wrong way that someone like me (a non-scientist) points out that fact, but that doesn't make it less true for having come from me.

Because that's all I meant by my remarks - that you're not an expert in these fields, and so your opinion carries less weight than those who have done the work to become expert. I don't see how you can possibly disagree with that without being dishonest with yourself about your own capabilities (which would be unlike you). Perhaps I misunderstand the point you're trying to make - or you misunderstood mine.

John the Scientist said...

No, I'm not disagreeing totally, and my expertise is far, far from particle physics. But asking, say an astrophysicist to look over the equations is rational - the disciplines are similar enough that the math will not be impenetrable and they share many concepts in common. You can't shut off one area of science and say that only practitioners of that particular sub-specialty are qualified to comment. If you do that, then that branch of science becomes indistinguishable from magic.

Disciplines can get blinders and we all need someone to tell us when we are full of crap.

What's convenient about the LHC dispute is that those arguments made by John Ellis are accessible to anyone with a minor background in statistics, unless you dispute the figures used for background cosmic ray activity. Those particle distribution papers also are direct measurements and you can access them without having a background in particle physics. I did so when I read the Ellis paper, just to see where his figures came from, but if you trust Ellis on his quotes from the literature, you're still fine - but you can verify them yourself.

I just think that the doomsayers who legitimately point out that argument from authority is not scientific can have a legitimate beef with your statement that only particle physicists should have an opinion. We can all look at the cosmic ray data and form our own conclusions about how many LHC equivalent experiments the Universe is conducting on our own little planet.

In that respect, we're should look at the data, just to keep everyone honest.

I'm not qualified to point out the mistakes in the derivation of the Hawking equations that Plaga made and Giddings pointed out, though once pointed out I was able to understand where Plaga went wrong. There's no way a layman could have gone up that mathematical learning curve in any reasonable amount of time because particle physicists have had a long time to look at the various math tools at their disposal and pick which equations correspond with experimental data and discard the ones that don't. Plaga showed the classic amateur mistake of picking inappropriate math without knowing the literature.

Outsiders just don't have the experience in that case, and that's where the specialist outranks everyone, though I always feel better when more than one specialty uses the same sets of equations and everyone agrees. In this case, two specialties do - particle and astrophysics.

Janiece said...

John, since I've already said that you make some good points, I'll assume your additional commentary was to flesh out your position, rather than to convince?

Fireblossom said...

Laffin @ "her personal Calgon." Well, there is still hope. The most feared black hole in the universe may still pull us all down the rabbit hole of suckage. I refer, of course, to the rationally unexplainable Mariah Carey. Be afraid. Be very afraid...

John the Scientist said...

Yeah, I want to point out that if you think someone's wrong you need to find out exactly what they are saying, not what you *think* they are saying - as in what arguments Ellis is making.

I also didn't want anyone thinking *I* was claiming to be a nuclear physicist. We've had enough of those. o.O

Janiece said...

Welcome, Fireblossom. You may be right about Mariah Carey, but I understand she does a very credible job in Precious.

John, point well taken. Heaven forfend you're ever compared to that crowd...

Vagabond said...

Hey Janiece, can I take lunnunis apart? Please? PLEASE? Okay, thanks! Lunnunis, I'm afraid you have a few bona fides to establish here. Janiece and John have established theirs. Janiece is involved in a career field that routinely deals with higher mathematics and theoretical concepts. John is . . . well, John is a scientist, so ditto. In other words, they are both steeped in the scientific method. If you want to sign on and blast away, establish your bona fides (thats Latin for "good faith", meaning establish your proofs in modern parlance). If there are valid reasons, then state them, along with your proofs and sources. When you mindlessly slag the host of the blog for being smug and don't state your supposedly valid arguments, you refute your own statements of being sane, sensible and logical. Have fun at the next "end of the world" rally sweetheart!

Random Michelle K said...

I heard an interesting piece on the radio the other day.

Back when Darwin wrote "The Origin of Species" the audience for that--as well as most scientific discoveries--was the laymen.

Discoveries were couched in a term than the educated could understand, whether they had special training or not.

Now, most discoveries are written up in such a way that you have to be a highly trained expert in the field to understand what the discoveries mean.

Just an interesting point.

Random Michelle K said...

Also... I have a Bachelor's degree! in SCIENCE! Doesn't that make me an expert?

Janiece said...

Vagabond, in the interest of full disclosure, the only time I use mathematics in my current field of endeavor is when I'm involved in traffic engineering. So while I'm occasionally neck-deep in Erlang tables and the Law of Large Numbers (LLN), these things have precious little to do with physics of any kind.

So while I do have a thorough understanding of the scientific method, it's quite a stretch to imply I'm at the same level as John when it comes to the higher sciences.

John the Scientist said...

And I'm not a physicist, I'm a Physical Chemist by training. Just to get that straight. :D

John the Scientist said...

Michelle, that was because there was so much less to know back then. I liken scientific progress to a sudoku puzzle. In Darwin's time there were maybe 5 squares filled. Today whole rows and columns are filled in, and if you want to know what's going on you have to be aware of a lot more than in Darwin's day.

This is also a message for the cranks - if you think people are wrong in your partiuclar area of concern, it most likely is going to impact other disciplines,and you'd better have a theory that explains as much and more as the old one, or you're going to be laughed at.

neurondoc said...

I'm a brain doc and a scientist (yes, John, really), but haven't an earthly idea about particle physics, so I keep my mouth shut.

And I knew that you'd bring this up and we'd catch at least one new one.

Janiece said...

Doc, I realize I'm predictable. You don't have to rub it in.

And John? I thought you were a marketing puke...

::ducks and runs::

John the Scientist said...

Natalie - not all docs are scientists, but some are. :p

Janiece - of course I am that, too, why do you think I get along with Eric, despite our opposing politics? :D

Steve Buchheit said...

See, I'm on the interdisciplinary checking of each other's research, as well as the intradisciplinary checking that should go on as a matter of course. But, he said, you should have at least a grasp on the subject matter greater that the 101 Survey Course.

lunnunis, at this point for the LHC, the theoretical work has been done. The LHC is the experiment to see if the hypothesis are correct or full of bunk. So, according to your own standards, we are already at the point of smashing the protons. There is no "safer" way of creating the data.

So, let's say the worst of the predictions come true. The LHC creates a persistent black hole. Not likely (after all, we're breaking apart the subatomic particles, not condensing them), but there is a small probability (if it does by some chance create a black hole most of the scientists involve believe it would be in existence for some fraction of a fraction of a second). What will happen? We'll have created a black hole with the mass of two or three protons. Black holes aren't mass multipliers. So it would be a subatomic black hole. I doubt its gravitational perturbation of the nearby atoms would be measurable except by our most sensitive equipment. I also doubt it would have the gravitational pull to collapse the other atoms surrounding it (as those atoms would have greater mass than the black hole - which is why most scientists involve believe it wouldn't survive long).

But then my IQ tops out at the 140 mark, so I may be wrong about it.

Janiece said...

Y'all, it seems evident that this particular bag o' nuts is not going to come back and defend her position. Since she's commented ON THE INTERNET then her position MUST BE TRUE.

Ah, drive-by trolling. Is there a bigger waste of time and effort?

And John, Eric isn't a marketing puke. He's a bleeding-heart tax-and-spend liberal with delusions of public service.

*Rowwrr*