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Author Topic: Large Hadron Collider to Have "Practical" Spin-Offs?  (Read 1807 times)
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Blackjack
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« on: September 12, 2008, 05:56:15 PM »

I can't believe we don't have a histrionic thread about the Collider/Atom Smasher in France that just opened that's attempting to unlock the secrets of the Big Bang Theory, among other things.

Here's the Official Site for it:
http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/LHC/LHC-en.html
Quote
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.

Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' either protons or lead ions will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy.

The more hysteric view:
Black holes that suck up the earth!
Extra dimensions!
Faster than light travel!
Or maybe a lot of money spent on hooey!  icon_razz

Large Hadron Collider to Have "Practical" Spin-Offs?
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/09/080912-lhc-practical.html
Quote
Though admittedly far-fetched, one sexy idea is that the LHC may find extra dimensions of space/time. If so, the discovery could open the door to technologies that allow people to travel faster than the speed of light.

In a sense, Parker explained, scientists may discover an ability to move chunks of space-time from one place to another through those extra dimensions, effectively bypassing the known laws of physics. [Didn't Doc warn Marty McFly not to do this! saywhat]

"If you went to the 23rd century and there were people flying around faster than the speed of light, you would say, What is it you found out that enabled you to do this?" Parker said.

"And the answer might be, It all started when we discovered there were these extra dimensions."
My favorite speculation/fear quoted in some other articles (mostly dismissed as hysteria) was that the contraption might create a black hole that grows and grows, eventually sucking up the Earth and maybe even the entire Solar System. Even X-COM didn't have a weapon that cool...

What I was hoping for was a Personal Black Hole that would eliminate the need for trash and recycling. Wouldn't that be cool?  icon_cool

* Note: If we already have a thread on this, please point me to it and I'll delete this. I did several searches, and didn't see anything on it.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 05:58:57 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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Scraper
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2008, 05:59:40 PM »

Quote
My favorite speculation/fear quoted in some other articles (mostly dismissed as hysteria) was that the contraption might create a black hole that grows and grows, eventually sucking up the Earth and maybe even the entire Solar System.

How the heck is something in France going to create a super condensed Star that collapses on itself?
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Caine
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2008, 06:14:33 PM »

yeah, i heard about that too.  :laugh. 

really, a black hole?  from two particles colliding?  not sure what is going on with that. 

as for FTL, why am i the only one who seems to think that extra-dimensional portals is a bad thing?
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2008, 06:25:47 PM »

Quote from: Caine on September 12, 2008, 06:14:33 PM

as for FTL, why am i the only one who seems to think that extra-dimensional portals is a bad thing?

Oh come now. It worked out great for Stargate. What could possibly go wrong? slywink
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CeeKay
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2008, 06:27:52 PM »

Quote from: Scraper on September 12, 2008, 05:59:40 PM

Quote
My favorite speculation/fear quoted in some other articles (mostly dismissed as hysteria) was that the contraption might create a black hole that grows and grows, eventually sucking up the Earth and maybe even the entire Solar System.

How the heck is something in France going to create a super condensed Star that collapses on itself?

yeah, I though America only created stars that collapse on themselves....
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2008, 06:39:39 PM »

Quote from: Scraper on September 12, 2008, 05:59:40 PM

Quote
My favorite speculation/fear quoted in some other articles (mostly dismissed as hysteria) was that the contraption might create a black hole that grows and grows, eventually sucking up the Earth and maybe even the entire Solar System.

How the heck is something in France going to create a super condensed Star that collapses on itself?

actually, they (CERN) have been sued by several groups of scientists who claim that the experiment will create a so-called black hole - now, CERN scientists have denied any danger, claiming that any black hole created will have insufficient mass to develop and will collapse upon itself immediatly.

So, the idea isnt that far-fethed...

Also, the Hague court is considering suing them still for endagering other humans unlawfully...
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2008, 06:40:12 PM »

Quote from: Scraper on September 12, 2008, 05:59:40 PM

How the heck is something in France going to create a super condensed Star that collapses on itself?

It's created by their massive arrogance literally collapsing in on itself.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2008, 06:46:05 PM »

Black hole railgun: the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
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jersoc
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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2008, 06:46:33 PM »

what they are doing at the LHC is what is happening all around us, but this time they can observe it easily. if it could create a black hole we would know by now. this stuff is stupid. yeah, lets not advance science because we can't be bothered to read a little.

I'm pretty excited for this, personally. Lots of cool stuff could be explained and maybe the string theory will turn out to be true too.
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2008, 10:53:28 PM »

1) hawking says its IS possible (in another dimension, he will win the noble prize for this after our dimensions earth is spectacularly destroyed)

2) cerns said it very well might create "black holes" - theyll just be very small and exhaust almost all their energy and peter out in a matter of nanoseconds

this certainly isnt worthless by any stretch - again assuming they avoid the whole apocalypse thing.  the accumulation of scientific knowledge is amazing and worthwhile no matter what the cost (in dollars, not in the extinction of a world smile)

supercolliders are far from worthless unless like science is soooooo lame.  lets go dress our dogs instead
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2008, 11:00:57 PM »

At the moment they have managed one beam right round the circuit. 21st October is when the 2 beams are fired and will collide. So only a month to hit 40/80 in Warhammer  icon_eek
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2008, 11:03:59 PM »

Here is a webcam so you can see it in action:
http://www.cyriak.co.uk/lhc/lhc-webcams.html
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2008, 11:04:51 PM »

i wouldnt worry about the initial stuff - im sure a lot of the first set of collisions are going to be pretty similar to those already attempted on smaller colliders (though i haven't seen the specific "lineup" of particles and experiments yet)

of course the speeds they got on the first laps are pretty insane no?
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2008, 12:52:51 AM »

wait.. didn't the game Outcast involve a supposedly safe black hole experiment?
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2008, 04:54:33 PM »

Quote from: jersoc on September 12, 2008, 06:46:33 PM

what they are doing at the LHC is what is happening all around us, but this time they can observe it easily. if it could create a black hole we would know by now. this stuff is stupid. yeah, lets not advance science because we can't be bothered to read a little.

I'm pretty excited for this, personally. Lots of cool stuff could be explained and maybe the string theory will turn out to be true too.

I don't follow you. What are some examples of this happening all around us? Isn't the reason it takes such an enormous amount of energy to do this because it doesn't occur normally?

Ale
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« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2008, 05:42:28 PM »

Atoms smash into each other at high energies all the time. They just aren't in the habit of doing it in front of detectors, while we're expecting them. I think the most commonly cited example is cosmic radiation hitting our atmosphere.
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Alefroth
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« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2008, 07:36:05 PM »

Cosmic radiation isn't an example of atoms smashing into each other. It would be low energy photons reacting with atomic particles in the atmosphere. We aren't talking photons here, though. We are talking massive protons accelerated to near the speed of light. I don't think that kind of collision is common, though I may be wrong, and hope someone can correct me. If it was, boy, wouldn't it be great to be able to harness that?

Ale
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« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2008, 10:13:28 PM »

Quote from: Alefroth on September 13, 2008, 04:54:33 PM

Quote from: jersoc on September 12, 2008, 06:46:33 PM

what they are doing at the LHC is what is happening all around us, but this time they can observe it easily. if it could create a black hole we would know by now. this stuff is stupid. yeah, lets not advance science because we can't be bothered to read a little.

I'm pretty excited for this, personally. Lots of cool stuff could be explained and maybe the string theory will turn out to be true too.

I don't follow you. What are some examples of this happening all around us? Isn't the reason it takes such an enormous amount of energy to do this because it doesn't occur normally?

Ale

well i'm not physicists, i just read a lot about it. just relying what scientists have been saying. the whole purpose is to observe and run the tests in a controled place. black holes are formed from collasping stars as far as they can tell. what they are doing isn't like that. that's quite some dense mass they'd have to do. this is just colliding atoms and observing what they form and spilt off into
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2008, 01:10:49 AM »

These kind of impacts that the LHC are doing are actually pretty common and happen from things like particles from the sun hitting planetary atmospheres.

You just have to remember that the universe is a vast place filled with all sorts of extreme conditions by our standards.  If it was that easy to destroy a planet or solar system, it would be happening all over the place, and literally nothing would exist and there'd be mini black holes everywhere swallowing up all matter.

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast recently covered a lot of this LHC business.

If I recall correctly, the LHC does create tiny, tiny black holes, but so do other similar collisions in space which are common, these black holes exist for the tiniest of moment before evaporating.

Also, what you have to realize is that the LHC isn't just a thing being built by one group of scientists and one corporation.  During its design and building process it went through a great many oversight reviews by the best and brightest from around the world.  They tested the math, tested the designs, etc...

SGU podcast put it best where they said the probability of the LHC destroying the Earth is about the same as your car spontaneously turning into a horse purely through quantum fluctuations.  And again, this isn't a few scientists in a secluded group coming to this conclusion, it's many scientists of different groups and review boards doing the math and tests separately to find these results.

SGU also mentioned a lot of cases where studies like this have come up with real, practical breakthroughs, it's just that the transition time and process from research science to applied science can be long and difficult.  If you give me time to listen to the podcast again and do some research I can find those.

One thing to note about why they're building the LHC is that mathematical models of the universe are pointing to that empty space isn't actually empty.  The analogy is that we're like fish in an ocean, since fish live in water it's like their own empty space, but as we study more we've come to realize that the empty space isn't exactly what we thought it was and the LHC has the potential to help of find out what it is.  But that's only one use.
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2008, 01:20:30 AM »

Quote from: jersoc on September 13, 2008, 10:13:28 PM

Quote from: Alefroth on September 13, 2008, 04:54:33 PM

Quote from: jersoc on September 12, 2008, 06:46:33 PM

what they are doing at the LHC is what is happening all around us, but this time they can observe it easily. if it could create a black hole we would know by now. this stuff is stupid. yeah, lets not advance science because we can't be bothered to read a little.

I'm pretty excited for this, personally. Lots of cool stuff could be explained and maybe the string theory will turn out to be true too.

I don't follow you. What are some examples of this happening all around us? Isn't the reason it takes such an enormous amount of energy to do this because it doesn't occur normally?

Ale

well i'm not physicists, i just read a lot about it. just relying what scientists have been saying. the whole purpose is to observe and run the tests in a controled place. black holes are formed from collasping stars as far as they can tell. what they are doing isn't like that. that's quite some dense mass they'd have to do. this is just colliding atoms and observing what they form and spilt off into

I'm not a physicist, either, but I like to keep up on this stuff, too. It isn't actually just colliding atoms, it's colliding sub-atomic particles, specifically protons.. I know this seems like a fine point, but when you consider the density of protons vs. the density of atoms, it's a big difference. I'm not running around with my hands in the air saying the world is going to end, but I also don't think it's outlandish to consider that when you smash matter together at those energies, you might approach the density required to create a 'black hole'. Not necessarily a Disney type black hole, but a black hole nonetheless.

Ale
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« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2008, 01:53:08 AM »

Quote from: Turtle on September 14, 2008, 01:10:49 AM

These kind of impacts that the LHC are doing are actually pretty common and happen from things like particles from the sun hitting planetary atmospheres.

I still don't buy that. Do you have any statistics of the energies of those collisions? The LHC experiments will recreate conditions present 10-25 seconds after the big bang. I think that's pretty darn energetic.

Code:
You just have to remember that the universe is a vast place filled with all sorts of extreme conditions by our standards.  If it was that easy to destroy a planet or solar system, it would be happening all over the place

What makes you believe it isn't?

Code:
If I recall correctly, the LHC does create tiny, tiny black holes, but so do other similar collisions in space which are common, these black holes exist for the tiniest of moment before evaporating.

Well, no one knows what it creates because it hasn't happened yet, but some speculate that that could be one of the outcomes.

Pardon my clumsy first attempt at line by line quoting.

Ale
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« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2008, 04:05:06 AM »

Here's an article from Skeptoid, it's a transcript of his podcast on the subject:
http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4109

From this, I'll quote some passages that should help answer your questions.

First, as to what the LHC is:
Quote
A collider is the basic tool of particle physics. You take a stream of particles, accelerate them to really high kinetic energy levels, and slam them into a target. Depending on the experiment, all sorts of exotic things happen. Most experiments are to create new particles predicted by theory or to examine their behavior. The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, has two beams traveling in opposite directions around the 27 km circle, each accelerated to 7 TeV (trillion electron volts) of energy and traveling at 99.999999% of the speed of light, held in place by powerful magnets. All around the ring are different experiment stations. To perform an experiment, you turn on the experimental detector and use the magnets to collide the beams into each other head-on inside your detector, creating 600 million 14 TeV collisions per second. That's a pretty high energy level, and we expect to learn all sorts of new and exotic things about the universe. Most famously, we hope to find the theorized Higgs boson, the particle that creates mass; but the collider's various experiments will produce knowledge that will permeate virtually every science we have.

On how common high energy impacts like these are and why I think the universe isn't that easy to destroy just from particle collisions:
Quote
...just look at the naturally occurring collisions happening all around us every day. Cosmic rays in the LHC's energy range are hitting the atmosphere [of Earth] constantly, and have been for 4 billion years, creating the same type of collisions that the collider will produce. Some of these, called Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays, have been measured at over 1020 electron volts, ten million times as energetic as the LHC's maximum energy. While that sounds like a staggering amount, it's about the kinetic energy of a baseball thrown at 100 kph. That's a lot for a single proton, but it's hardly the destruction of the planet.

So one way to think of this is that the Large Hadron Collider is just an impotent little Spaghetti-O compared to the greatest supercollider of them all: The universe. Nature's supercollider has been going for billions of years at energies millions of times higher than human scientists can dream about. So far, neither Earth nor any of the other planets, nor even any super-dense astronomical bodies like neutron stars, have suffered from particle collisions. In fact, according to Dr. Brian Cox at CERN, the universe conducts the equivalent of ten trillion lifetime runs of the LHC every second, and has been doing so for billions of years, with not a single observable consequence.

On micro black holes:
Quote
The main reason is that micro black holes of the type that particle collisions can create behave very differently than the giant supernova-sized black holes you see in movies. They don't eat anything. Instead, they explode with a tiny little micro pop. Most people have heard of Hawking radiation, which is emitted by black holes. As large black holes eat stuff, they also evaporate away as Hawking radiation. The smaller the black hole, the more energetic this evaporation. For a micro black hole, this evaporation happens at essentially the same instant it is created, or at least, this is what is theorized: Specifically, they would decay instantaneously into hadron jets and high PT leptons, which are one thing that we actually hope to see with the LHC...

Of course, as you and the article mentions, that's what is theorized will happen.  But, part of the research going into the theory are a whole lot of mathematical models based on evidence confirmed elsewhere.  It's actually pretty amazing how much mathematical models have predicted, or hinted at, that we've later discovered to be true and exist in the natural world.
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Alefroth
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« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2008, 04:53:37 PM »

Thanks for the link, those are some interesting numbers. Though one of the authors links says that the highest energy collisions are very rare, it sounds like there are still large amounts of collisions with energy equal to that of the LHC. One of the things I find interesting is that the actual total energy is not that large (I read that 1 TeV is the amount of kinetic energy a flying mosquito has), but it is concentrated in such a small area that it can have monumental results. Really curious to see what the first real test tunrs up.

Ale
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« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2008, 12:30:32 AM »

A little more information I just heard from the Science Talk podcast from the Scientific American magazine.  Basically, in one part they talk about the risk of black holes.  Basically, while the creation of micro black holes in the LHC is still only theory, they do talk about what happens if the black holes are created.  As with my previous posts, these tiny black holes are so very, very, very small that they would just evaporate in a puff of hawking radiation.

They go on to say that in the very worst case scenario that one of these tiny black holes does stick around, on the short term they're so small and they have so little sucking power that it would take billions of years before they got to a dangerous size, which by that time the Earth would already be dead of other causes.  That's how small these black holes are.

Of key point is that the very math that theorizes that black holes could be created by the LHC also predicts that these black holes will evaporate in such a manner, it's fundamental to the equations.

As for another practical product of the LHC is one all of us internet users will all enjoy.  Basically, the LHC will put out somewhere around 6 gigabytes (I forget the exact number, but it could even be terrabytes) of data every second during one of its tests.  To manage, transport, and then store that data, CERN engineers had to create a brand new network backbone capable of handling this data.  It's this new networking system that they believe will form the backbone of the future internet.  It's also useful to point out that CERN itself was instrumental in the creation of the current internet.

Edit: Ah here's the article: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=how-lhc-may-change-internet

The corrected numbes are about 5 gigabytes (a single layer DVD) every 5 seconds with 15 petabytes (15 million gigabytes) every year.

The new networking methodology is called Grid and I think the article mentions that the protocol it uses is called Globus (be glad it wasn't called GLaDOS Tongue)
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jersoc
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« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2008, 01:35:23 AM »

i thought hawking radiation wasn't proved yet and that's one of the experiments? maybe i'm remembering wrong. that's why people were worried about black holes in the first place. also a black hole isn't a vaccuum consuming everything around it. there's the event horizon which is basically almost the point of no return. outside that you'd be good. our sun could be a black hole and, outside of needing it's light and energy, we'd be fine and orbit around it.
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« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2008, 05:26:23 AM »

Wasn't Tim Berners-Lee at CERN when he created HTTP? For a nuclear research facility, they sure have had (and look to still have) a great impact on the Internet.

Ale
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« Reply #26 on: September 15, 2008, 06:51:47 AM »

Interestingly enough, this is more or less what Dan Browns "Angels and Demons" is all about... I wonder if he's some kind of prophet!

Anyways, thanks for the layman explanations, its oneof the things I love the this place and OO, that I actually dare to (more or less) believe what I read on the net here :-)
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« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2008, 03:08:46 PM »

Another fun fact:  The LHC is shut down in the winter, not because it couldn't operate then.  It's because they need the electricity to heat homes in the nearby cities in the winter.  That's about how much electricity it uses.
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« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2008, 08:14:46 PM »

Another snippit of information is that cosmic rays aren't really rays at all.

Quote from: Wiki
Cosmic rays are energetic particles originating from space that impinge on Earth's atmosphere. Almost 90% of all the incoming cosmic ray particles are protons, about 9% are helium nuclei (alpha particles) and about 1% are electrons (beta minus particles). The term "ray" is a misnomer, as cosmic particles arrive individually, not in the form of a ray or beam of particles.
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