back to article The Hadron Collider: What's it all about, then?

Around about now, boffins will be eagerly awaiting news that protons are finding their way fully around the 27km circuit of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, the latest and best atom-smasher particle accelerator - and the biggest scientific experimental apparatus ever built. This 10 September 2008 project milestone has captivated …


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  1. Anonymous John

    a hyperdrive propulsion capable of making the trip to Mars in 5 hours

    Hyperdrive is travelling faster than light, isn't it? It doesn't take light 5 hours to get from here to Mars.

    To mark the occasion, I'm baiting a scammer using the name Higgs Boson.

  2. Alastair Smith
    Thumb Up


    This machine is an incredible feat of engineering, and perhaps the single most inspirational thing man has done so far this century. I hope the relevant people can do the sensible thing and use this as a way of making science more popular in schools and colleges. Maybe that's too much to ask.

    Did you know that the chamber containing the ATLAS detector is so massive (35m high) that it actually has buoyancy in the Earth's crust?! It rises at a rate of 0.02mm per year, and so the floor had to be set to a 5m thickness to prevent warping.

    I'm a bit of an LHC geek, despite having only a basic grasp of the physics...

  3. Graham Orr

    I was sure that Bosons were.....

    nearly exterminated by Buffalo Bill; were something navel or naval I forget which, were too small to figure much in the cosmos that is my World.

    This article is confusing and makes one point: We don't really know what's going on so lets smash some more rocks together and see what sticks to the flag-pole or some other trite trash pandered as scientific research. Sounds like a candidate for the Darwin Awards along the lines of Russian roulette using an automatic pistol....

    Mine is the one with the logo - 'We're Doomed'

    PS do the Taliban know and are there enough virgins for all of them turning up at the same time?

  4. Solomon Grundy

    Higgs Boson is Coming

    and he's going to kill everyone at CERN sometime in late 2009 or early 2010. After several decades of looking and not finding you'd think those smartypants over at CERN would give the chap some privacy - alas no. When the LHC fires up, and they are certain of its capabilities you can bet your sweet ass CERN is going to ransom the world: Come out Boson, or we're going to destroy the planet.

    Well, maybe not, but that's what I told the jackasses over at

    One of the best geek/psycho/religious baiting experiences in years. Everyone should visit that site; if for nothing other than to marvel at humans and their understanding of science.

  5. Stephen Huyssoon

    It's The End of the World As We Have Not Know It

    This new atom smasher will allow us (yes, we are in this deal together) to see things that we could not see before. A principle of problem solving: When you can see enough of the problem, a solution will show itself. Thus, I hope solutions will show themselves.

    It's not all about particles. There is a structure to our universe. There is energy, there is a flux between our 4-space and that which is outside of our 4-space. We have much to learn and it's going to be exciting.

    I don't know whether the Higgs Boson exists but it really doesn't matter (ha ha.) It's about gravity. Gravity. What is gravity? Is it a property of matter or is it an interaction with our universe or just what is it? Can it be worked with? Yes, it can. There is a relation between electromagnetics and gravity.

    Well, I would tell more but I don't want to alert the black helicopters and have them come empty out The Reg offices.

  6. Richard Thomas

    Disturbing yet liberating revelation

    There is a leaked video on You Tube from CERN (LHC Black hole simulation Large Hadron Collider CERN) there is more to this than meets the eye, the black hole is not the concern, it is the revelation that may shatter our perception of reality.

    The link is on which has insight into the revelation. Do you really think they would spend 6 billion dollars just to find a particle?

  7. Bryce Prewitt

    I guess scientists never learned from the Black Mesa disaster.

    Will Gordon Freeman save us from CERN?

  8. Peter Gold badge

    Just imagine ..

    .. the LCH accidentally creates the first hyperdrive. We'd all be very impressed in the few nanoseconds before we plunge into some distant sun ..

    Morbid joking aside, did anyone spot that 26 countries have actually managed to do something together?

    That's worth celebrating in itself. I'll treat myself to some lhcconcerns baiting, I think.


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice article

    I enjoyed it. Minor point: typo on the first page "as fast as speed as possible".

    Great stuff though.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    I knew it

    (yes, the spelling *is* correct)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Now is the time....

    Most odd. If they wanted evidence of a black hole then they would just need to take a close look at Labours spending plans. However, today is the day to max out your credit cards because the bailiffs won't be popping round to relieve you of your Mary Poppins films. And do something you have always wanted to do today because there's no chance you'll have the opportunity tomorrow.

    Wouldn't it be funny (not) if we all woke up tomorrow morning and a corner of France had been turned into a glass dish?

    Paris because there is no icon of Britney to choose, and Paris is about as close as I can get.

  12. Simon


    Just read the beebs report on the issue here -

    The head of the 'accelerator and beams department' states that there are on the order of 2000 magnetic circuits and if a single one has the polarity the wrong way round then the beam wont go round.

    Sounds like a test pilot saying 'yeah, we need to make sure the wings are on the right way up or the plane wont fly'

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just in case.

    On the off chance that I'm about to die:

    I hate you all, and it'd give me great satisfaction to know that you were all dying in some terrifying manner were I not also busy doing the same.

  14. TeeCee Gold badge

    Uneccessary use of ^H there?

    Despite the boffins getting shirty, I reckon "atom smasher" is probably a more accurate description for the whole assemblage.

    After all, while the speed you can get yer proton up to in the accelerator part is important to the process and of technical interest, the really interesting bit and the whole purpose of the exercise is what happens when you ram it into something else while it's going at full pelt.

  15. Dave Bell

    So what else could it be?

    Don't some of the pictures look rather like a crudely engineered Stargate?

    Get a burst of protons going through that, each with the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier in a hurry, and it's going to ruin Johnny Alien's whole day.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    A Hardon Colider!?

    Is that not tad bit gay.

  17. Miles Hipkin

    a hyperdrive propulsion capable of making the trip to Mars in 5 hours

    sooooo..... when can I get one of these fitted to my flying car?

  18. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Well, well....

    For those not afraid of writeups in papery form, please check out this one at the Arxiv:

  19. Colonel Panic

    Don't take their word for it...

    I mean, if Prof Hawking is wrong, and black holes don't evaporate, it would be a Very Bad Thing.

    But you don't have to trust a bunch of gruyere-munching über-nerds - you can check it out yourself. The entire documentation for the LHC is available online:

    Now I happen to have a few bits left over from a radical hard-tail chopper project in the shed, and I've built my own. And just to reassure you all, I'm going to whack a few protons together at 10^20 TeV.

    There, I've flipped the switch.

    Its perfectly saf ---NO CARRIER---

  20. M

    Thats may have caused...

    ...the original Big Bang millions years ago when someone did the same trick....

    <Cue the event millions Years ago> Watch this (Flick switch) "Oooops!"

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not to worry

    One of the greatest events in the history of science takes place today - yet the lead headline on the majority of UK newspapers is Posh's new hairstyle.

    Maybe the world disappearing in a black hole/being flung into the sun is not at bad result.

  22. Eddie Edwards

    I already found the Higgs Boson

    It was in the footwell of my car on the passenger side, buried under M6 Toll receipts and empty cigarette packets. To be fair, my wife found it, after tidying the car up a bit. She almost missed it too - it's pretty small. 180 GeV sounds like a lot but it really isn't. It nearly got thrown out with the rubbish.

  23. Lee Staniforth

    Live Link to The End of the World

    Here's a link to a live stream from CERN (English). Unless it's all fake of course! We're dooomed!,,4078645,00-le-lancement-de-l-accelerateur-de-particules-.html

  24. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    They're all looking in the wrong place - Tom Stoppard knows the answer...

    BIRDBOOT Where's Higgs?

    MOON I replace him tonight.

    MOON AND BIRDBOOT Where's Higgs?

    MOON Every time.

    BIRDBOOT What?

    MOON It is as if we only existed one at a time, never appearing together but combining to achieve continuity. I keep space warm for Higgs. My presence defines his absence, his absence explains my presence, his presence excludes mine....When Higgs and I walk down this aisle together to claim our common seat, the oceans will fall into the sky and the trees will hang with fishes.

    BIRDBOOT [He has not been paying attention, looking around vaguely, now catches up] Where's Higgs?

    MOON Seeing me with a critic's ticket is enough. The streets are impassable tonight, you know why? It's because the country is rising and the cry goes up from hill to hill --Where--is--Higgs? [Small pause] Perhaps he's dead at last, or trapped in an elevator somewhere, or succumbed to amnesia, wandering the land with his pockets stuffed with ticket. [BIRDBOOT regards him doubtfully for a moment.]

    Paris, because even she knows Higgs is really hiding under the sofa.

  25. Richard
    Paris Hilton


    For anyone who remembers the intro to the game Another World.

    For those that don't:

    Just hope they will not be doing any experiments during a lightning storm. :)

    Paris icon coz she is from Another World.

  26. Bo Pedersen
    Jobs Horns

    not forgetting

    that A: Egon says crossing the streams is bad

    and B: Dr Evil is so going to be after that machine to hold the world to ransom, is also a mega cool looking machine that fits right into the evil world conquering genius must have section.

    Plus I want cold fusion or some other cool way to save on my leccy bill

  27. Sam

    Oh Dear

    The BBC are calling it "The Big Bang Machine"...

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @Colonel Panic

    I thought the same yesterday when I read that Hawking had said he 'wasn't holding his breath' that he'd be proven right about Hawking radiation. I'm hoping that's just because he expects them to observe nothing evaporating and not because he expects to be pulled wheels first to Geneva.

    And kudos el Reg for getting the facts right - the beeb keep trying to say they'll be colliding things today. How hard is it for them to get their facts straight - or is getting a beam of protons to circulate a 70km ring consisting of 2000 superconducting magnets first time just not awesome enough for them?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I feel the earth move under my feet, I see the sky tumbling down...


  30. Daniel Hopkins

    Don't worry

    Don't worry fellow humans, I'm a time traveler from 2343 a.d. and I just wanted the worried people out there to know that this experiment is harmless. After eight months in operation, a new exotic particle will be found (no, not Higgs Boson, which BTW, doesn't really exist). No black holes whatsoever, at least not right now (these were created and destroyed in lab for the first time in 2157 a.d., and all went well too). BTW, instead of wasting so much time in theoretical physics, just conjuring theories, you might want to change your approach and worry more about direct observations of reality instead of theorizations. Also, you should revise some misconcepts that you have, specially some very basic ones about how electricity works and the relationship between magnetism and "gravity" (or as we call it today, "graviticity"). A hint:study the stuff that Edward Leedskalnin has left behind, and no, his "Sweet Sixteen" is not a girl, it's a symbolic reference to the key concept in electrodynamics.

    That's as much as I can say without changing the future... or making it too easy =)

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Burkhard Heim

    looks distinctly like Doc Brown to me.

  32. Lee Staniforth

    @Oh Dear

    Re the BBC"Big Bang Machine": my 6 year old daughter was upset yesterday, and didn't want to go to school as she thought the world was going to end. We had to tell her a little white lie that the experiment had already happened. Her response was "Oh yes, I remember, everything went small". Perhaps she knows something we don't!?!

  33. Gianni Straniero

    God(damn) particle

    Leon Lederman wanted to call it the "God damn particle", but his editor wouldn't let him. Or so says Higgs in an interview with The Grauniad:

  34. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: I feel the earth move under my feet, I see the sky tumbling down...


  35. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I'm confused

    Nothing can go faster than the speed of light, right? So I'm a proton whizzing round this circular tunnel at nearly the speed of light. Without warning I spot a fellow proton whizzing round in an opposite direction doing the same speed. And it's coming straight at me.

    So the closing speed is nearly twice the speed of light? That's impossible!

    Scott me up beamy.

  36. Mark

    re: Don't Worry

    "you might want to change your approach and worry more about direct observations of reality instead of theorizations."

    Uh, so we should stop just theorising about what may be the cause of inertial mass and build something so we can SEE a particle that could cause MASS but be undetectable because it is of such high energy it cannot exist except as a virtual particle?


    I suggest we engineer something where we can get the energy concentration necessary to make these virtual particles exist for a detectible amount of time. This is probably best done by putting kinetic energy into particles and then getting them dense enough to create the right conditions.

    To make them steerable, we should chose a charged particle. Protons maybe. Some sort of charged hadron anyway.

    And if we shoot them about in opposite directions when the occasional one wollops into another one, the energy density should therefore be enough for our purposes.

    Since this will be expensive, we need several countries involved. Best, from a political standpoint, to put the device in a suitably inoffensive "neutral" country with borders near to lots of other countries, so they all feel like they get involved. Switzerland should do. And CERN could work it, after all, they have some experience.

    Can someone make such a device, please.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    element 115 anybody ???

    correction - "ZETA 1&2 RETICULI"

  38. neill austin

    Particle Physicists in Large Hadron Collider Rap shocker

    If your looking for a simple version of events they've released an instructional rap....!

  39. Sam

    RE: Nice article

    I think you will find that this is not a typo, "as fast as speed as possible, It is factually incorrect.

    Chuck Norris can run faster than protons in the LHC.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    element 115, anybody ???

    Some of us know that the true purpose of this endeavor is to create new compounds which do not naturally occur in our space neighborhood- such as element 115, the product of a binary star system (beta 1 & 2 reticuli ). This element was pointed out by robert lazar, who encountered it while back-engineering an exotic aerial craft at groom lake, nevada. These types of pursuits are what fuels such projects which exist on the fringes of science fiction & reality !!!

  41. Edwin


    you missed a chance to promote the LHC rap!

    A bit silly, but marginally edjukashunul

  42. DZ-Jay

    Re: a hyperdrive propulsion capable of making the trip to Mars in 5 hours

    No. A hyperdrive is a propulsion system which travels in hyperspace: It bends space-time to travel from one point to another, like a worm-hole, not necessarily achieving faster-than-light speeds.


  43. Chris Bradshaw

    @ Andrew - 'Nothing can go faster than the speed of light'

    Einstein solved that one - he analyzed the inconsistency and ended up with the famous e=mc^2 (energy equals mass times speed of light squared) equation. Basically subjective time for the protons 'slows down' so that they 'see' the other proton approaching at less than the speed of light. Read up on special relativity if you want to more details...

  44. DZ-Jay

    We need more beer!

    How on earth are we supposed to find this Higgin's Bossoms, eh?


  45. Tony


    "Nothing can go faster than the speed of light, right?"

    Theoretically; Einstein argued that as you approach the speed of light, mass increases towards infinity, so it shoudn't be possible to exceed it. However, (from memory about 15 years ago) there were some previous experiments that suggested that the Universe doesn't give a fig for Einstein!

    "So the closing speed is nearly twice the speed of light? That's impossible!"

    No; the closing speed is a comparison, not an actual speed. You could equally argue that as they are travelling in a circle, they are also actually travelling apart at twice the speed of sound which would cancel out the closing speed (it doesn't - that's a joke!)

  46. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Credit where credit's due....

    Has anyone noticed how the Wackypedia stresses that a Japanese scientist who webt to an AMERICAN university ALSO thought about the Higgs Boson?

    And that Higgs' was "working FROM the ideas of" an AMERICAN scientist (and presumably also from Newton's, eventually). Furthermore some AMERICANS were the first to apply the Higgs mechanism to the electroweak theory.

    So all this work in France and Switzerland is really AMERICAN...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next phase in the project.

    Once they found the boson the collider is not needed anymore, I am sure you could strap on a few rollercoster cars and have some serious fun.

    Also from the London Metro paper this morning, a classic scientific reply to the doom merchants :

    Prof Brian Cox, who works on the project, said "Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a t**t"

  48. John H Woods Silver badge

    Begging the question ...

    As even bright people now routinely (mis)use 'begging the question' to mean 'raising the question' what, pray, may we use to replace it? 'Undermining one's own logical argument by assuming the point at issue' doesn't have the same ring to it.

    Good work on the artilce btw.

  49. Ian Tresman

    Big Bang balloney

    While the experiment is impressive, it will say nothing about the Big Bang. The large hadron collider produces a collision between "light-weight" subatomic particles. The Big Bang was an explosion of ultradense material.

    It's like two cars colliding, and claiming you figure you the origins of civilization from the wreckage.

  50. James

    Would It hurt...

    If you stood in it? (Ignoring the fact that it is 1K above absolute zero and the vacuum...)

    I'm pretty sure an aircraft carrier would hurt but maybe I'm mistaken.

  51. alain williams Silver badge

    @Alastair Smith

    "Did you know that the chamber containing the ATLAS detector is so massive (35m high) that it actually has buoyancy in the Earth's crust?!"

    Errrm, massive means that it has a lot of mass, ie it is very heavy. The reason that the chamber is buoyant is because it weighs less per volume (ie is less dense) than the surrounding earth/rock -- ie it is NOT masssive.

    I assume that rather than "massive" you meant "big". Nitpicking ? Maybe: but we are talking about a physics experiment.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    @I'm confused

    *rolls eyes*

    Read something on special relativity. Please.

    Mine's the one with a crib sheet on the garage paradox in the pocket.

  53. Darren B

    The Hadron Collinder

    That thing will take a lot of Brocolli.

    Am I the only one who keeps misreading it as Collinder?

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Re: a hyperdrive propulsion capable of making the trip to Mars in 5 hours

    I think a hyperdrive is whatever you want it to be. It's fictional, a bit like Mike Sala

  55. Solomon Grundy

    @Lee Staniforth

    That is not a white lie - you told your daughter an outright fallacy of the blackest kind.

    On another note it really pisses me off that the media are scaring children with their end of the world smack.

  56. Raymond Wilson

    The Huggs Bossom..

    How on earth will Doc Emmett Brown fit this contraption into the DeLorean time machine? In essence it is an oversized Flux Capacitor used to move matter around at light speed and cause two particles (Marty McFly & Biff) to collide!

  57. Anonymous Coward

    @Graham Orr

    "PS do the Taliban know and are there enough virgins for all of them turning up at the same time?"

    Don't worry, there's plenty of Star Trek fans to go around...

    With apologies to Family Guy

  58. ben

    Our first chance...

    to rip a hole in the fabric or reality.

    We'll peer through and see an immense student leaning over his laptop keyboard at us playing spore.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Would it not be better........

    ..... to have some super-rich, uber geek (with initials BG ?) use all his hard-earned cash to develop our very own Deep Thought (that's the Douglas Addams one, not the sad IBM effort), and then Deep Thought can produce all the answers without us mere mortals putting our whole existence on the line by (possibly) generating black holes in an atom-smasher ?

  60. Mark

    re: I'm confused

    this would be because your assertion is wrong.

    The closing speed of two particles traveling at nearly the speed of light is even nearer the speed of light. If you take as "closing speed" the speed of the other particle from the point of view of one of the colliding particles.

    If you're talking about from the point of view of the rest frame of the experiment, one particle is moving at speed of light going one way and the other is moving at the speed of light the other way. I.e. they are going at nearly light speed toward each other.

  61. Mark

    re: element 115, anybody ???

    You used the wrong icon.

    Either that or you'll have to explain why element 115 is the result of two stars near each other.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paging Dr Freeman...

    Mine is the one with the Crowbar in it...

  63. Tony


    "are also actually travelling apart at twice the speed of sound "

    Whoops - I meant twice the speed of light.

    I'm having a bad day - the consultants are in and they say no even though the computer says yes. The MD is close to turning into a black hole himself - don't need the LHC, could have saved £5 Billion.

    Please be gentle with me. We need a "I'm feeling fragile" icon.

  64. Anonymous Coward

    @Darren B

    You mean a colander? A large hadron colander would have to have very small holes...

  65. Dan
    Thumb Down

    taking the piss

    is all very well, but you can't knock the scale and complexity of this experiment. also, if the higgs is not found now, it never will be no matter how large an accelerator is built...

  66. pctechxp

    Check out that server room

    It's a BOFH's wet dream

  67. YumDogfood

    The Higgs Bozo

    - superheavy, rare and falls apart at the slightest provocation - resulting in massive contamination of any lighter weight elements nearby.

  68. Anonymous Coward

    Stupid idea

    I hope the explosion blows up the detector

  69. Bo Pedersen

    re: next phase in the project

    never mind protons , its time to collide some other stuff to settle old arguments

    like 2 video streams one StarWars and the Other StarTrek

    also audio streams Britney vs Aguilera

    any more suggestions for collisions?

  70. GrahamT

    Hog's Bison: The Guardian explains it all quite well...

    "27km large haddock collider smashes barnacles together at 47 times the speed of matter, recreating conditions last seen shortly after Big Ben. Heat and pressure combine to create Cod particle, also known as Hog’s bison."

    Full version here:

  71. beast666

    Accelerator vs. Collider

    The LHC is not strictly an accelerator such as SLAC, its a collider (The hints in the name LHC!)

    Nor is it an atom-smasher (even when they get around to colliding heavy ions instead of protons.)

  72. Watashi

    Professional cynic

    "Look beyond the headlines, and questions begin to pile up."

    Nice to see El Reg continuing the "scientists are all trying to pull the wool over our eyes" agenda.

    Any good physics school teacher will gladly tell their A-Level pupils (if not for even younger pupils) about the failings of modern particle physics, QM and Relativity. If you study Physics at University you can't escape it. The fact that the Standard Model has serious problems is the least well kept secret in the whole of science - it's hardly the fault of the particle physicists that most people (inc. journalists) are idiotic buffoons with the scientific aptitude of a warm cup of tea.

    Put it this way - this experiment will not reveal the mysteries of the universe, but if we want human colonies on far away worlds, then pinning down the Higgs Boson (if it even exists) is as necessary a step as that of Newton realising that gravity was a deterministic force acting between lumps of matter.

  73. beast666



    Except that the experiment may shed light on the fact that gravity *isn't* "...a deterministic force acting between lumps of matter."

    If that doesn't "...reveal the mysteries of the universe,..." then I don't know what will...

    Even a completely null result from the LHC will tell us loads...

  74. hey_may
    Paris Hilton

    RE: A Hardon Colider!?

    It's only gay if the balls touch.

  75. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Cups of tea

    A good source of Brownian motion for your warp drive there mate

  76. Peter Williams
    Thumb Up

    New physics - poor SF writers...

    Just think of all the SF writers out there waiting to revise their tech.. :)

    Neat gizmo though..

  77. Neil Stansbury

    Faster than light

    Sorry to nit pick but E=mc^2 doesn't say "nothing can travel faster than the speed of light".

    What it says is for a body of mass to accelerate to the speed of light either requires an infinite amount of energy in a finite amount of time, or a finite amount of energy in an infinite amount of time. As time (at the moment) is purely a relativistic concept this isn't precluded.

    Additionally, there is nothing that prevents a body of mass ALWAYS having traveled at superluminal speeds.

    Finally the groups velocity of light waves have already experimentally been made to travel faster than light.

    Personally, I hope they don't find the Higgs, it's a horribly inelegant theory and it will be far more exciting if they don't.

  78. Steve Hodson
    Paris Hilton


    A Large Hardon Colander eh.... brings to mind some kind of glory hole experiment gone awry :-/

    Mines the grubby brown mac with the copy of perv monthly in it.

  79. David Shaw
    Thumb Up

    I helped build some of the earlier CERN high energy magic machines..

    It was nice to hear the SPS getting a mention on radio4 this am, nobody reminded us how the LEP - large electron positron 27km biggest experiment since...yes, you've heard it, anyway how LEP couldn't circulate a beam at first try as some joker had stuffed an empty beer bottle up the vacuum tube! I presume LHC had an obstacle patrol!

    I once dumped n x 10^9 antiprotons at 3.5GeV/c into the wrong place, wasn't no black holes that I noticed, but it did snow a lot that year!

  80. beast666

    @Neil Stansbury

    You are so wrong on so many levels... The Higgs mechanism may seem convoluted, but its the simplest theory thats fits observations 'so far!' That's the whole point of the LHC to settle this, one way or another...

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I never thought I’d see a resonance cascade, let alone cause one!

    Good article, I liked it. Also, the links to Field Propulsion were nice, though I had to look up “circumferential”. I must say, as a layman, having three independent experiments that all measure an artificial gravity field orders of magnitude greater than can be predicted by general relativity is quite exiting. I hope they continue to progress.

    As for the LHC, well some peoples reactions over at lhcconcerns just makes me think that science is not being taught very well in our schools. Hell, they scare me more than the totally improbable chance that LHC will produce a stable black hole or spark another big bang. I mean, people going “There are some things that must remain a mystery” is just freaky, if everyone had that attitude, then we’d still be living in caves.

    History is littered with mouth breathers like them. The first passenger trains got created and you had people who insisted that going over 30mph would asphyxiate the passengers. Or how about people who thought that the detonation of a nuclear bomb above ground would cause the atmosphere to ignite, incinerating all life on the planet?

    We have observed “jets” being emitted from the poles of other galaxies. Currently, we think that these are partials being ejected by the magnetic field of a super massive black hole that’s in a feeding stage. We think these particles are travelling at near the speed of light. So how come, when they hit something they don’t seem to produce a black hole or a new big bang? After all, they have far more energy than can be produced by LHC.

    All this scaremongering is about a valid as people getting scared of Dihydrogen monoxide.

    Hope the LHC team find some interesting stuff though. It would be a shame if all that money was spent and nothing new was found. Mind you, given the nature of an experiment failure to find something is still a result.


  82. Dave Morris


    Unless I missed some recent newsbreaking update from our dearly departed Einstein, he said nothing about E=mc^2 having anything to do with how fast something can move. E=mc^2 is only an explanation of how much energy a mass contains if the entire mass is converted is a loss less manner into energy.

    I think what you're looking for is the relativistic mass formula: mrel = m0/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2)

    This is part of special relativity, as implied by many others above. It says that the relative mass is increased as the mass' velocity increases. If v == c then you get a divide by 0 error; this can be treated as infinite (since that is what the limit as v approaches c is), or it could be seen as a special case not covered by the formula.

  83. ian

    Assuming we all survive...

    What will CERN do with the tunnel after they bin the LHC? It might make a wonderful thrill ride, but the riders might need to flash passports as they speed across the Swiss/French border.

    Or perhaps it could become a velodrome.

    Some forward planning is required here. Unless CERN know there is no need...

  84. Dex

    re: Bryce Prewitt

    I bet the gman works at CERN >.<

    Lets see.....crowbar...check, pistol...check

    Mine's the orange and black HEV suit

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    If your wondering why SETI can't find extraterrestrial life

    Maybe they should try boosting their reception on signals in the digital television spectrum to find the sad final moments of our noble alien neighbors at the height of their hubris? I can see it now:

    "This is Xeenathean News Network science correspondent Browarjemenq Nprinwed coming to you live from the opening ceremony of the brand-new Beam Fusion Directorate. The atmosphere here in the BFD control room is one of pure excitement as Supreme Overlord Lweyintokl is set to press the shiny red button that will start the first full power experiment and usher in a new age of understanding of our universe. The Supreme Overlord is stepping up to the control panel and he's reaching for the button! You can hear the beam generat...."


  86. Dave

    Gordon Freeman

    You jest.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No news good news?

    I got excited for a while, but what a let down!

    The was unresponsive for most of the day. And now when I finally got through today, there's no mention of anything happening since last Friday:

    Maybe they blew up afterall.

  88. Acme Fixer
    Paris Hilton

    @ Anon John

    Five hours to Mars, and you have to spend one and a half times that long clearing Customs, getting your insides sterilized (we can't pollute another planet with our germs), and getting x-rayed for terrorist paraphernalia. Oh, and then there are the lines.. So big deal!

    Paris, because she'll be only one of the few who can afford the trip!

  89. Neil Stansbury



    Quote: "You are so wrong on so many levels... The Higgs mechanism may seem convoluted"

    So I find the theory cludgy and inelegant. Hmm so I'm intrigued - that makes me wrong on so many levels how?

    @Dave Morris

    Quote: "Unless I missed some recent newsbreaking update from our dearly departed Einstein, he said nothing about E=mc^2 having anything to do with how fast something can move."

    Err... yes actually he did.

    If a force is applied to an object in the direction of motion, the object gains momentum. It also gains energy because the force is doing work.

    The formula you are probably looking for is: E^2=( mc^2 )^2 +( pc )^2

    BTW. Relativistc Mass is generally frowned on by serious scientists.

  90. Anonymous Coward


    Nothing with mass can go the speed of light, and massless particles can not (supposedly) go any faster. However, as a particle with mass approaches the speed of light, its mass increases, to infinity the closer it gets to C. This is what prevents it from achieving light speed. As the mass increases, so does the particle's kinetic energy, which is what ultimately makes the collision more powerful (like two semis vs. two compact cars), and what yields the bizarre collision products that are hoped for. As a side note, since photons travel the speed of light, due to time dilation, photons do not age (travel forward through time), a concept that has always fascinated me.

    Re. a large hardon collider: That's one event I really hope I don't get to see, nor its collision products. It's bad enough with one when you slip out.

  91. John Paul McAuley

    title needed? but i dont want one!


  92. Kevin Rudd

    Swallow that coffee before reading this.

    Q: So what instrument are the boffins going to use to view the Higgs boson at the LHC?

    A: A COLLIDERscope!! (Get it! kaleidoscope, colliderscope? If I have to explain it it just spoils it)

  93. Kevin Kitts


    I just hope the LHC's powerful field doesn't align the magnetic field underneath of it, causing a magnetic pole shift. Then that whole area of Europe would have virtually no shielding from the Sun's radiation, and would fry. Oops.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Last night's One Show on BBC

    It was hilarious! Up to €6.4 billion and 20 years for a small flash on a screen. Quality. Didn't it make all you scientist dicks (no pun intended) look stupid with you hardon machine.

    PS - Nice picture on Page 1 el Reg - it's of a tunnel but where is the hardon machine?

    Paris - she would spot a missing hardon machine

  95. Sweep

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "Hawking had said he 'wasn't holding his breath'"

    surely that's just because he can't, being on a ventilator and all.

  96. Mark


    You just proved yourself wrong.

    Your E=mc2 is the RESULT of relativistic momentum. E=mc2 doesn't have anything to do with explaining why things can't go at the speed of light, and why? There's NOTHING about the speed of the particle in that equation. There IS in the other one you produced.

  97. Andrew Newstead

    At Last!!!

    Thank you, thank you thank you for publishing an article that actually explains in quite understandable language what the LHC is all about! I've been getting steadily more p*****d off over the last week at how the media has been treating this subject and missing the point entirely for juicy "end of the world" headlines. Prof Cox summed it up in the Metro beautifully, well done fella! We need more scientists like that...

    This article needs to be sent to all the dailies, TV and radio news broadcasters, even Auntie Beebe (who normally has a good go at these things, to give her her due ) to give them an education in science reporting.


    Someone who cares about the public understanding of science

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black Holes?<snigger>

    Foolish humans, believing in something that does not exist.

  99. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Parallel Particle Streams XXXXSTreaming ..... String Entangled for Singularity Quests in AIMissions*

    "Did you know that the chamber containing the ATLAS detector is so massive (35m high) that it actually has buoyancy in the Earth's crust?! It rises at a rate of 0.02mm per year, and so the floor had to be set to a 5m thickness to prevent warping.

    I'm a bit of an LHC geek, despite having only a basic grasp of the physics..." ... By Alastair Smith Posted Tuesday 9th September 2008 22:32 GMT

    Now that is Proper Planning and Preparation Perfectly Preventing Piss Poor Performance. By the WAI, you do Realise that CERN is Radiating Intellectual Property Energy ...... and AI 4FlowurPower2Source.... ReGenerative Enriching Source.

    Which would be ....... well, Priceless Really but Virtually just Beautifully XXXXOrbitantly Expensive. A Paper Cost to Some Ne'er do wells playing Zero Sum Games for Privy Gains ... but a Bonus to Everybody Else.

    "I knew it ...

    (yes, the spelling *is* correct)" .... By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 10th September 2008 07:17 GMT

    I Love the Unknown Particle/Center of the Universe Theme .... Certainly a Rich Vein for Field Testing/Master Piloting/Embracing/Surrendering to, too.

    Oh dear, that almost sounds like CERN have a Frankenstein Control of a Creature/ Atlantic Bairn /Atlas Lass.

    And a Right Amazon Leader she's Be ...... Party to the Erotic Left of Nerve CERNtre Control....... for the Taste of Native Nicaraguan Riches too.

    * Or AI Shared NEUKlearer Missives Registered and Floated into Space. Catch AIdDream and Build with ITs Freely Available GUI ...... the Web and ITs InterNetworking Functions/Supply Services.

    Big Business could surely do with the Help to Spend all those written off dollars clogging up some dodgy dealer accounts with neither the wit nor the tit to spend it on.

    Poor Currency/Energy/Money Management definitely..

  100. n


    2 news items recently:

    -2 bottles of beer were found jammed in the LHC causing expensive delays.

    -a large chunk of euro-grant money was transfered from a cern bank account as "IT consultancy costs/other" to a company called British Operational Fluidic Hadrons.

    Could these 2 stories be in some way related??

  101. Dave


    "the biggest scientific experimental apparatus ever built."

    I think you will find that the mice disagree with that remark; citing the Earth itself for example.

    I believe that the remaining planets built by Slartibartfast were all built for pleasure purposes, but some were bound to be larger than Earth.

  102. hey_may


    no they wern't found at the LHC it was the other one

  103. Ed

    Um its cool and all but...

    after the experiment.... once they do or dont find the higgs.... what else can they use it for...?

  104. fon

    Has no-one noticed...

    ... that 10 sept was just a TEST using just one beam, and no collisions??? they will not be doing a basic colllision untill it gets upto speed, in about a month.... and it may be Dec. before things really start happening...

    (only did a quick scan of posts, so..)

    meanwhile, here is a comicstrip view... :)

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