Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This is your Earth on Speed - A Science-y Blog (3-6-08) 27 Reads

INTRO: OK, this one was written specifically for two people.  Whilst having a conversation online with one person they suggested that I post more about things that interest me.  I was arguing that in order for a blog to be successful I had to post about what everyone else was interested in.  Her argument was that my lack of interest and/or conviction would come through the text.  In her words, she said I should go ahead and post a science-y blog.  :)  My old friend Farhan also shared a lot of common interests with me and he too wanted to read something like this.  For them, I wrote.  Some images are missing since they were old links and MySpace took the liberty of nuking them.  Keep in mind that it was written partially in jest for the sake of keeping my readers interested.  Its a shame I lost Farhan as a friend.  We had some great conversations after this but they are gone.

Current mood:indescribable

Ok dudes and dudettes, hold on to your hats.

I'm about to school you but its really interesting and even a little scary so it will be worth it in the end.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (or in French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire,) is the world's largest particle physics laboratory. It is located between France and Switzerland. Its primary function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research.

You may recognize the name. It has made appearances in many books, movies and T.V. shows such as Angels & Demons, the prequel to The Da Vinci Code. (Soon to be a major motion picture as well.)

Most of the activities at CERN are currently directed towards building a new collider, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the experiments for it. The LHC represents a large-scale, worldwide scientific cooperation project. Physics experiments are expected to start May 2008. The LHC tunnel is located 100 meters underground, in the region between the Geneva airport and the nearby Jura mountains.

So now you know what it looks like more or less. But what does a particle accelerator do exactly? Well that's both simple and very complicated. It does exactly what it says it does.

First you get electrons from a device called an electron gun, which boils electrons off a filament. (An electron gun is basically the same device you have in the back of your CRT TV or computer monitor. You get protons by ionizing (stripping the electrons off of hydrogen gas,) whose atoms consist of one proton plus one electron. To get other types particles, you need to smash your accelerated protons or electrons into something else in order to produce other particles, then use some particle selection techniques to extract data about each specific particle. One way to do this is using a method of collision. The particles are shot off on beams are typically the diameter of a human hair, and the length of a needle traveling at 99.999% the speed of light. Given these statistics, "Rocket Science" couldn't hold a candle to particle acceleration in my opinion. So when those particles collide, you absorb all the information (residue) that comes from the smashed particles. It seems like a very barbaric way of studying sub-atomic particles but currently, there is no easier way.

Now that I've given you an extremely limited background understanding of my extremely limited background understanding, we get to the good stuff.

Higgs is a crucial part of the standard model of particle physics, but no one has ever found it. The Higgs particle would be the carrier of the field and would interact with other particles. Yes, much in the same way The Force is understood to work. That's right, I said it. The freakin' "FORCE."

CERN's scientists are now hard at work building the Large Hadron Collider. One of the many projects in line is the search for the Higgs boson which is that mysterious particle that links it all together.

When the physicists activate the 17 mile long ring this May, they will, in theory, be able to produce the Higgs boson. Or destroy all life as we know it.

The existence of the Higgs particle, also called the God Particle, has only been predicted to exist. First proposed by a University of Edinburgh physicist named Peter Higgs in 1965 after coming form a walk in the mountains. Most likely high altitude, low oxygen.

"The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) can achieve energies that no other particle accelerators have reached before. The energy of its particle collisions has previously only been found in Nature. And it is only by using such a powerful machine that physicists can probe deeper into the key mysteries of the Universe. Some people have expressed concerns about the safety of whatever may be created in high-energy particle collisions. However there are no reasons for concern." - CERN

They add that the accelerators recreate the natural phenomenon of cosmic rays under "controlled laboratory conditions." I would hope so. It is the intention of every scientist for everything to remain controlled. When things go out of control, we get Chernobyl. :) They claim that all the planets have been bombarded by cosmic rays as far back as we can possibly know. "Since the much higher-energy collisions provided by Nature for billions of years have not harmed the Earth, there is no reason to think that any phenomenon produced by the LHC will do so."

I would like to know if we know exactly where these naturally created cosmic rays come from? What galactic incident spewed these harmless particles forth? A big bang you say? I collision of stars? Well, I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to be there when that happens. Last time I checked, the beaches on the Sun weren't all that popular this time of year.

Read this carefully; "Massive black holes are created in the Universe by the collapse of massive stars, which contain enormous amounts of gravitational energy that pulls in surrounding matter. The gravitational pull of a black hole is related to the amount of matter or energy it contains - the less there is, the weaker the pull. Some physicists suggest that microscopic black holes could be produced in the collisions at the LHC. However, these would only be created with the energies of the colliding particles, so no microscopic black holes produced inside the LHC could generate a strong enough gravitational force to pull in surrounding matter." Is it just me or are they not denying the possibility of creating a microscopic black hole?

"Black holes lose matter through the emission of energy via a process discovered by Stephen Hawking. Any black hole that cannot attract matter, such as those that might be produced at the LHC, will shrink, evaporate and disappear." Energy cannot be created nor destroyed only converted. If by evaporation they mean cataclysmic explosion, then it would make sense to me. That tiny black hole could contain high density mass that in order to evaporate, would have to be by the release or influence of some other form of energy. If a simple firecracker takes more energy to "evaporate" I doubt a black hole would morph into a gentle breezy mist.

"The smaller the black hole, the faster it vanishes. If microscopic black holes were to be found at the LHC, they would exist only for a fleeting moment. They would be so short-lived that the only way they could be detected would be by detecting the products of their decay." What is the "product" of the decay of a nuclear explosion? The fire or the life mutilating radiation?

Well I read one article after the next and I thought it both interesting and amazing that we are here on the eve of such major discoveries in science and technology. I sincerely hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and I am sorry if you didn't make it all the way through. I truly am excited, but I hope we don't all die.

*Particle Accelerator -
**"How does a particle accelerator work?" A Staff Report by the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board The Straight Dope.
***"Scientists Looking for the Force Finally Put CERN's Large Hadron Collider to Good Use"
****CERN addressing LHC concerns about possibly cataclysmic events following its activation. CERN
*****Conservation of Energy,


Poignant Wife Response:

2 Peter 3 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

2 Peter 3

The Day of the Lord
1Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

17Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.