The End is Nigher

September 9, 2008 at 8:53 (News, Rants, Tech) (, , , , , )

Here it comes.

Do you see it?  Can you feel it approaching?

Starsuckers Inc.

Starsuckers Inc.

On Wednesday, CERN are finally booting up the Large Hadron Collider, the high-energy particle accelerator that’s been whipping up the blogosphere of late.  The wiki is a little pompous, so let’s say that it’s designed to test the current model on which particle physics is based; to push the boundaries of what even quantum theory (as we don’t know it) can explain.

Physically, the LHC is a concrete-lined underground corridor with massive arrays on either end that snakes some 27 kilometres beneath the border of France and Sweden.  In less than 24 hours, an admittedly well-organised mob of mad scientists mean to pump highly charged protons at incredible speeds down the length of the tunnel.  They’ll be slingshot around the bends of the tunnel, getting faster and faster and more and more powerful until at last, they collide – and when that happens, well.  Who knows.

The theory is that they create the Higgs boson condensate, which you’d hope which is rather vital to those demented physicists, because at the end of the day – this is where I start to sound a little unhinged – they’re blindly fucking about with nothing less than the elementary fabric of everything.  And when the bastard Combine inquisitors slaughtered Eli Vance, I heard the G-Man’s whispered warning in my mind’s ear: “prepare,” he said, or spat, or slithered, “prepare for unforseen consequences.

We could be talking black holes here; us and the universe and everything collapsing in on itself in a mad regurgitating spiral.  We could be talking about a Stargate gun firing dystopia down a tunnel longer than the Channel designed to make the world-ending bullets bigger, stronger, faster.  For the sake of all that’s good and right with the the world, we could be talking about strangelets here

And when has concrete ever saved the day?

Basically, the LHC could kill the world.  The operative word there being that it could; a conditional.  I don’t really think it will.  If I did, I expect I’d be making the most of my last day – confirmining everyone’s worst fears by looting electronics outlets, filming myself fucking people I really shouldn’t on stolen high-def equipment and maiming people that mildly offend me, that sort of thing.  But I’m not.  I’m blogging.
Apocalypse Nowish

Apocalypse Nowish

Then again, you could make the same sort of argument for any potential disaster of the scale the LHC aspires to.  A massive meteor on course to kill us all?  As if.  (It’s called Apophis.)  Overpopulation?  Really.  Mass extinctions could mean something?  Ridiculous.  Even global warming still gets a big, fat whatever, and half of America voted for the guy shouting that particular pessimism at whoever will pretend to listen.

So, as a species, we’ve our heads in the clouds some.  We’ve basically killed the world every which way already – scientists screwing with the threads of the universe are hardly likely to make anything any worse.  Even if they’re mad, they’re educated crazies, and I find it hard to believe 8,000 of them could bet on the wrong horse.

But there’s always the possibility.  Ultimately, they’re scientists – disciples of science, which is easily as fallible an ideology as religion.  The LHC is here to help discover something called the Grand Unified Theory, which – let’s be brutal here – sounds more than a little insane, even if it’s just a daft boffin name for something as rational as gravity.  But science is as much about being wrong and learning from your mistakes as it is about guessing right.  And they are guessing.

Don’t call me out on the conspiracy count, please.  I’m no nut; I don’t honestly expect the world to end tomorrow, when CERN plan to conduct the first full-scale test of the LHC.  Only, I think it’s important that we understand the stakes here.  This could be a stem cell-level debate if more people knew about it, but it’s a little too weird, too niche for the rags to latch onto.  We can be grateful for that, at least, but it’s small comfort.  This is important, at the least to the science community and very possibly to our fundamental understanding of the world, and it’s basically become a subject to poke fun at.  Thus…

But admit it: whatever these mad scientists achieve, that rap is genius enough it justifies the whole damn thing.

Well, it’s been nice talking to you all.  If the world doesn’t end this week I’ll be back good and soon to rant about how incredible the new Metallica album is and to talk some Silent Hill: Homecoming.  Plus, Murakami week is still coming (maybe).  Here’s hoping we don’t all get turned inside out tomorrow!

I love you, Mum



  1. Nicki said,

    I believe exactly what you believe. I think they are playing God and who knows what tomorrow will bring? We’ll see but in the meantime, say goodbye to all your loved ones .. goodbye.

  2. greg said,

    sure just like the supposed ice age in 1969, or the end of all the worlds resources in 1992, what about Britain supposed to be destroyed by 2000, etc etc? there were hundreds of scares just like this and they didn’t happen……

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