The Large Hadron Collider goes live in just a few hours, so I figured I’d whip out a quick blog post because…it may be my last night on earth and I apparently want to spend it on the Internet? Deep dark sick things that says about my personality aside, I’ve been looking forward to the CERN particle accelerator starting up for years now, and I’m brimming with anticipation.

Since it’s generous to say that I have a layman’s understanding of the actual science involved in the project, suffice it to say that when the 27 km long LHC is up and running, it will essentially recreate, in a laboratory setting, a small scale version of the universe just after the Big Bang. This will, theoretically, allow scientists to better understand the nature of dark matter and dark energy that make up most of the universe, and provide clues as to the nature of the Higgs boson, or ‘God particle,’ which theoretically gives explains why objects have mass. In simplest terms, the groups of experiments that are about to start will hopefully tell us why stuff is stuff, and also give us a hint as to just what stuff that isn’t stuff is. For a better explanation of this, you can visit the CERN website, where you will once again be reassured that the LHC won’t do the other thing it could do – annihilate reality as we know it.

There’s a really small chance that this will happen, but the (drastically oversimplified) theory goes that, if you recreate the Big Bang, it will do what Big Bangs do – create a new universe. Naturally, there won’t be enough room for two universes, and our old crotchety universe will be dragged out into the street, beaten and left for dead. Now, though this prospect if frightening, it’s nothing to panic over for two reasons. First, there is an incredibly tiny chance it will actually happen. And second, if it did, the universe would end so quickly that we wouldn’t even have time to register that it was ending, thus rendering the entire exercise moot.

And while I would miss…well, the universe, it would be almost worth the vanishing of all things everywhere from all of time/space to prove that the exclusion theory was right. It would mean that when living beings discern the meaning and nature of the universe, that universe is instantly destroyed and replaced by a new universe with completely different rules. And frankly, I think I could die happy if I died knowing that Doug Adams was absolutely right about everything all along.

Aside from a) leading physicists to a much sought after unified field theory or b) erasing everything that ever was and leaving no more trace behind than a faint cosmic residue, there’s a third option – that researchers find something completely unexpected. There could be something out there that throws all of understood physics for a loop, which would be really frustrating for theoretical physicists and really exciting/terrifying for the rest of us. Imagine just throwing out the entire rule book for How We Think Things Function At The Most Basic Level. And on the plus side for theoretical physicists, they would still have jobs! And all of us would get to start together from square one trying to figure out what everything is made of and what it all means.

I think that sounds really nice.

Whatever happens, I look forward to writing more about it once we know what ‘it’ is. Until then, if you can read this, the world is still pretty much the same, except for that it might be utterly different at it’s very core. And if not, well then, it’s been nice knowing you. Not all of you. But most of you. And that’s good enough.

Mazel tov and goodnight, everybody!

Advertisements