Monday, September 08, 2008

LHC - Top 5 best and worst things that could happen

I love the crazy stories that have been coming out regarding the Large Hadron Collider being switched on tomorrow (I am a science nerd at heart).
OMGZ!1! A black hole with suck us into another dimension!!1!!1.

Here is a great list of what could happen (realisitically) from New Scientist:

The Best:

1. Time travellers from the future appear and say hello. Admittedly this isn't very likely, but theorists have shown that it is possible in principle. And it would be rather spectacular.

2. The smart money is on the LHC creating the famous Higgs boson, so we would finally know why things weigh what they do.

3. Special long-lived version of a particle called a gluino could be spat out. These could stick inside one the LHC???s giant detectors and decay when the accelerator is switched off. If this happened it would tell us that our universe is just one of many, many universes.

4. The LHC might show that extra dimensions of space exist. Some physicists believe this would be the LHC???s most profound discovery because it tells us string theory is on the right lines.

5. Nothing happens. If absolutely nothing new turns up at the LHC, it would shake fundamental physics to the core. It would tell us that all our understanding of forces and particles is wrong and we???d have to go back to the drawing board.

Worst things:

1. The lights go out in Geneva. The LHC consumes 120 megawatts of power, about the same as Geneva and its environs. CERN gets its electricity from both France and Switzerland, so a blackout in unlikely.

2. The proton beams become unstable and crash uncontrollably into a detector. At full pelt, each beam contains enough energy to melt 500 kilograms of copper. If a beam smashed directly into one the LHC???s giant experiments, it would fry the detectors. Engineers have built several safety systems to stop this happening.

3. Fewer party balloons. The LHC???s superconducting magnets are cooled with 120 tonnes of superfluid helium. Top ups will be needed if there are power cuts or problems with the magnets.

4. Part of the ring breaks. The ring uses superconducting magnets that need temperatures colder than outer space to work. If there is a problem, it will takes five weeks to warm the ring back up to room temperature and another five to cool it back down to 1.9 kelvin.

5. Nothing happens. It may be intellectual dynamite but if nothing new shows up at the LHC, there will be no more money for big physics.

They forgot to add:
The ring creates a portal into another dimension, heralding the return of the
Great Old Ones.
All hail
Cthulu and our other-dimensional overlords!

;)

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