One Former Physicist’s Thoughts on the Large Hadron Collider (or Will the World End?)

I have a college buddy from Duke – David Hardtke, who is retired physicist who worked at LBNL and CERN (the guys who built LHC) and now Chief Scientist at SurfCanyon a search startup, who sent us his thoughts on what’s going to happen with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as its now online (though not yet attempting the things the world is worried about).  As a geek at heart – I am fascinated by stuff like this.

So when asked whether the LHC would create black holes that would destroy the world – here’s what Dave said:

Today the $10 billion dollar Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva
Switzerland took its first baby step towards operation.  The LHC is the
highest energy particle accelerator ever built.  I will now make
predictions about the outcome of these experiments — unlike other
predictions on this list I allegedly know what I am talking about on
this subject.

1)  The main goal of the LHC is to find the last piece of the so-called
standard model.  The standard model is a theory that encompasses all
known particles and their interactions.  There are two types of
particles: leptons (including electrons, neutrinos, and their cousins)
and fermions (quarks) that interact via gauge bosons (photons, gluons,
and the W and Z).  The missing piece is something called the Higgs which
is supposed to give all of these other particles their mass (without the
Higgs, they are all massless).

PREDICTION:  Higgs is found, probably around 2010-2011.  Peter Higgs
dies one month before discovery and is thus denied Nobel Prize.

2)  Most physicists think there is a whole zoo of fundamental particles
more massive than any we have observed.  The reason they speculate of
the existence of these particles is that the standard model is ugly –
it has a bunch of “free” parameters that are arbitrarily tuned to crazy
values (you can reconcile God and physics by positing that only a God
could fine tune such a mess).  The favorite new theory is super-symmetry
which speculates that particles we have observed have a corresponding
superpartner such that there is a super-lepton for each fermion and a
super-fermion for each lepton.

PREDICTION:  Supersymmetry (and all related theories including string
theory) are B.S. (I am in the minority of physicists on this point, but
my paycheck no longer requires that I believe it).

3)  Some predict that LHC will create mini-black holes that may eat up
the earth.  This is definitely not going to happen since it requires
string theory to be true and string theory is BS (see previous
prediction).

PREDICTION: Earth survives

4)  96% of of the gravitational mass of the universe is unaccounted for.
There is something called dark matter that accounts for about 20%.  Many
predict that the LHC will find the Dark Matter.  This requires
super-symmetry or something similar to be true.

PREDICTION:  No dark matter found at LHC.

5)  The LHC is supposed to be a discovery machine that opens up a whole
new zoo of particles.  The next accelerator (the International Linear
Collider) will cost $40 billion and is designed to clean up the mess.

PREDICTION:  LHC is last large atom smasher ever built.

REQUIRED BEER COMMENT:  If you’re ever in Geneva, the CERN cafeteria
serves the cheapest beer in all of Switzerland.

UPDATE: Slight edits to Dave’s background

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2 Responses to One Former Physicist’s Thoughts on the Large Hadron Collider (or Will the World End?)

  1. Pingback: What is the LHC? | What Is Wrong With The World Today

  2. Pingback: CERN Large Hadron Collider Explained | What Is Wrong With The World Today

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