Friday, December 11, 2009

The LHC, the end of the world as we know it, and my brief career in particle physics

Let us all collectively now take a break from Tiger and the 10 11 12 mistresses and the Muni stabber and Copenhagen and South Carolina governors and Top Chef and whatnot and instead talk about something that will TRULY BLOW YOUR FUCKING MIND. I'm not even kidding.

So there's this thing called the Large Hadron Collider on the France-Switzerland border, or I guess, technically under the border, since it's way underground. It's a big ring that's like 17 miles around, and what happens is that science guys go down there and shoot subatomic particles at each other and try and find shit like the Higgs boson and figure out why we have mass and where everything comes from and who sent the UFO that's buried under the ocean floor near New Zealand. I might have made that last part up.

If you're saying "What the fuck is that thing?," you're not alone.

Anyway, it's totally fucking complicated and just click on the Wiki link if you want to read more. Me, I'm personally kind of interested in string theory and particle physics and cosmology but I figured out early on that wouldn't be my life's calling when I found that I couldn't mulitply 5 times 6 without looking it up and all this shit apparently requires a pretty good grasp of math. We're getting way off the point here.

Now here's the thing. Because of the way it works (and that's as specific as I can get), there is a nonzero chance that the LHC may produce miniature black holes. WHAT THE FUCK. No, seriously. As we all know, black holes are bad news because they suck in everything around them and so forth. Now, the LHC people obviously don't want anyone thinking they could destroy the Earth with their accidental mini black holes, so everyone's toeing the company line and telling you what they want you to hear: "Destroy the world? Pshaw. This thing's safer than a riding mower. Your clock radio has a better chance of creating a world-ending event." That's what they want you to think.

As it happens, the LHC has been beset by problems. Like one thing after another. And they're weird problems. Like a bird dropping a baguette into the fucking thing. You could not make this shit up.

Here comes the mindblowing part: I had this theory, which I freely admit was probably caused by watching too much sci-fi as a kid, about why the LHC couldn't get fired up. Here's my theory: All the shit they told us not to worry about is real, and the reason they can't start it is because people from the future are traveling back through time to sabotage it so we won't destroy the Earth.

WHOA DUDE. THAT IS FUCKED UP. Have you ever really looked at your hand before? Let's order pizza.

So I was all, "Man, I'm not just a drunk with a blog and much younger wife. I have come up with some groundbreaking shit here. Who do I call about this?"

But of course, I shoulda known better. After Googling for about 3 seconds, I find out I'm not really the first person to think of this. Much smarter people have already thought this up and probably used math. (Although, to my credit, these guys think the Higgs boson went back in time to kill it. I don't even get that at all. I say it was a couple of guys in jumpsuits. Which one do you prefer?)

Sorry for this brief interlude into the world of subatomic physics. We'll return to booze and Jersey Shore and shit like that next week. Unless they start that LHC up. DUN DUN DUN!!!


Whirlwind said...

For some reason, this makes me think of this:

Rocco said...

very cerebral. how refreshing. kind of.