anything they find
anything they find will be more worthwhile then anything you have achieved - be happy in that knowledge.
The CERNocrats have decided it will be another few months before they can restart the world's biggest scientific money-smashing machine, the Large Hadron Collider. The 17-mile underground money pit on the Swiss-French frontier will restart in September with a few Hadrons colliding in October, after which a Christmas shutdown …
Why don't you just fuck off and live in a cave, with no computer and no electricity, not wear any synthetic fibres, not use any medicines and shit in a hole in the ground?
If you're prepared to put up with the benefits of Science, you can put up with the costs. £4 billion is peanuts compared to what the USA spends on [insert frivolous crap here] each year
"It seems that, like fractals, which are infinitely complex at whatever scale they are examined, there will always be smaller bits of atoms inside the current smallest bits you are looking at. All you need is an ever-bigger hammer to deconstruct them and the LHS is just a waystation on the path to the ELHC (Even Larger Hadron Collider)."
That's what happens when you have pundits who should first consult a physics manual before pulling out an article about "waste" out of their nether regions. Planck length. Look it up.
And of course there will never be a larger hadron collider. Because you want to get clean collisions when going to higher energies, so back to leptons it will be.
Journalism, while not the most reliable sources of news, should at least have the semblance of unbiased fact rather than a personal vendetta.
Chris, it is plainly obvious that you have nothing but disdain for what potentially could be the most important event in Human history.
I'm not denying that it could also possibly be nothing more than a very expensive failed experiment, but without such things, advances cannot happen.
So rather than calling it a 'timewaster'. why not try objective journalistic reporting. It might even make you a happier person.
The reason the LHC was "switched" on last year, was because the consortia's politicians said it had to be. Being switched on and being switched on at full power are (forgive the pun), light years apart. Another interseting fact is that, (due to time constraints to hit the autumn switch-on), CERN only tested 1/10 of the magnets, which are needed to keep the beam away from the pipelines wall. That's professional isn't it?
My guess therefore is by October 2009, + 6 months they might have ignition at full power and be able to do some useful stuff.
Why tell the truth in the first place.
Graduate physicists are quite cheap; a lot of the money has gone on buying airfares and PCs. Even if they don't find anything much, it's better value for money (and a general economic boost) than hosing cash at banks, say.
Of course, I'd rather the money had been spent on <b>my</b> airfares and PCs, but research in IT security is never as sexy as finding out "fundamental secrets of the universe".
Oh sure, the LHC may help physicist gain a greater understanding of this magnificent and massively complex system, we call the universe. Sure they may even discover some answers to the fundamental questions; when? where? how? (and possibly even) why? Sure, such deep curiosity is probably the greatest thing we humans can claim as truly _ours_; extension of natural mammal inquisitiveness it may be, we've managed to make it an art. But...
Will it help me pay for my fuel bills, rent, grumble-mag subscription fees, pop-tarts etc?
Sigh... time to get back to work, huddled over my desk, bashing the keys with my palms. Look how far we've come.
Yes, there are many.
Still, there maybe benefits to the whole of humanity arising from this project. Where as spending billions bailing out banks so they can continue dishing out obscene bonuses to high level bank staff whilst ripping of customers with ridiculous charges generally benefits a handful bankers.
Hadroncollidology - the study and prediction of hadron colliders.
So far it has been established the little beggars have voracious appetites, but apparently excrete very little of interest. Speculation is rife that ingested matter simply disappears down a black hole. Inter-disciplinary studies should be promoted, which might indicate cognitive resonance with black holography, and genetic connections with us-urology.
<mode=incredulous> "the benefits of Science"????</mode>
Exaclty how does this promise to benefit anyone but a bunch of daft Physisists who can't make themselves understood in a room full of normal people and who spend all their lives underground in Switzerland because they can't get girls? "Why don't we go back to my place: I've some pretty revolutionary equations of state that you might find illuminating".
I never saw such an example of compensating in my life (cries of "Ooh, you should see the size of *my* Hadron Collider, ducks" echo in the background).
Pertinent question: Where's my effing flying car, and how much sooner will I get one if this bloody magnet from hell is switched to maximum revs?
if they wanted to spend billions on studying NOTHING. Vacuum is very interesting if you know how to look at it closely. I would back such schemes, but then I never had much truck with beancounter attitudes.
Anyway, it beats spending money on Euro/Joint Strike/Insert favourite here/ fighters or aircraft carriers that do not seem to be fit for the wars we fight now (that should get people going).
I mean, after all, if noone had ever done costly fundamental research, things would be pretty much the same.
Oh, no, wait, my mistake - if we never spent any money, and occasionally craploads of money, on fundamental research, we'd be pretty much stuck at the Industrial Revolution.
Well, at least we can get pissed because they keep missing deadlines, right? I mean, it's not as if there's any reason for cutting-edge technology that requires sub-micron precision on a kilometer scale not to work at the first attempt.
Oh, damn, sorry, wrong again - given the sheer number of components, even with a rather small chance of individual failure, it'd have been a bloody miracle if the LHC had worked on the first try.
If an "author" can't even describe a hadron as anything other than "bits of atoms", then perhaps his/her grasp of the physics at stake really isn't compelling enough to be a source of public record - or even an informed opinion shouted from an electronic soapbox.
For the record, we need the LHC because we KNOW that our best current theories of quantum physics are at least a leeeetle wrong, and/or a leeeetle incomplete. Sure would be nice to actually FIND evidence of a Higgs bosun to explain where mass comes from, rather than just postulating it and hoping the maths work (they do SO far...). The US Superconducting Supercollider would have settled things even better, but given it's departure from this universe (funding-wise), the LHC is the closest we are going to get to enough energies to fill in some gaps we have in our quantum physical models, and make any corrections needed. And explain dark matter, dark energy, quark interactions at a distance, and a perhaps a host of other things that are currently bothering us that don't really make a lot of sense or can't be proven.
Perhaps more important, considering the WWW itself is an offshoot of CERN technology development, having El Reg criticize the cost of it's development is rather funny...without the WWW, most of your authors would be waiting tables or actually having to write code or something tedious...
>"Physicists say they are on a noble quest to understand the fundamental structure of matter - but does it matter?"
Yes, it does, you ignorant barbarian. And it will undoubtedly lead to practical applications as a spinoff down the line. Case in point: our entire fucking industry exists because of the theoretical research done into quantum mechanics by the guys with the first generation of cyclotrons. So yes it pays your bleedin' bills, even if that's the limit of your short-sighted horizon owing to your utter lack of aspiration for the higher achievements of which humanity is capable.
Just because you don't understand something doesn't make it worthless. You're showing the same attitude of wilful anti-intellectual know-nothingism as the creationists and fundies and other anti-science zealots, and psychologically it's nothing more than your own inferiority complex writ large: you don't understand it, can't see what it's for, yet you are unable to admit that this is merely a consequence of your own ignorance of what is after all a highly technical subject, preferring to believe that instead it must be worthless because you do not even acknowledge the possibility of there being things beyond your understanding. Well, you're just going to have to grow up and face the facts: you don't know everything, some people know more than you about some things, and you don't have any "right" to automatically be correct in your every whimsical and uninformed opinion.
Why such a negative article in a website dedicated to science and technology? This feels like it's been lifted out an ignoramous paper like the Sun or Daily Sport...
The LHC will bring us that much closer to understanding the 80-90% of the universe we appear to be missing. I think that's worth more than the NPfIT, don't you?
Also - I would like the editorial team to seriously consider this reporters position and his suitability for the job as it appears to me to be terrible.
It was at CERN that the WWW was created - that medium that you are using now to spread your own personal vendetta.
Faraday asked "What use is an unborn child?" This research has no immediate use. It's what it may grow into that is excitiing. Maybe a way of cold fusion? Maybe showing how to make submoleculer structures to store higher data densities? Perhaps a tigher noninvasive imaging beam or maybe advanced radiotherpy beams.
Who knows. You certainly don't and neither do the scientists doing the research but that's *why*.
Flammable symbol because there isnt an acid one for your vitriol.
Actually it's more a money laundering scheme.
Your country gets contracts pro-rated on your contribution. But there are only a few companies able to actually build this kit, so BAe bid for the UK's portion of the magnets - sub contract the job while keeping a percentage.
Some proprtion of the money actually gets spent on research but most of it is back-handers to the biggest employers in each country's marginal constituencies. Still it's cheaper than building eurofighters.
To summarize article facts:
1- LHC is delayed
2- LHC costs a lot of money
3- We don't know if LHC will provide any results useful in real life.
Exactly what is the difference between the LHC and other science projects? Perhaps is that it's finances are open and inspectable? Apart from the author obvious traumas related to things that collision at high speed when spinned in a large circular tunnel, I cannot see any difference.
The key point to remember is that most of those huge projects have perhaps not ever derived any direct benefits by themselves, but the technologies developed for them often have. Does anyone have a single example of a direct benefit of having a man put its feet on the moon? Noone. Right, but the technologies developed for achieving that stupid goal changed our lives a great deal. LHC is in the same category.
I suspect it has something to them being far smarter than you that you jump up and down like a 2 year old yes?
Get back with the rest of the idiots, saddly there are too many people like you and the author, if it had been up to the likes of you the trains would never have gone past 30 miles an hour for fear of people being crushed to death by the huge pressures put on bodies at such huge speeds.
Or we'd still believe that it was bad smells that made us sick.
Or that there were monsters in the sea and if you went too far you'd fall off.
Dicks, all of you.
RE: "Exaclty how does this promise to benefit anyone but a bunch of daft Physisists who can't make themselves understood in a room full of normal people and who spend all their lives underground in Switzerland because they can't get girls?"
Yeah an understanding of Physics and subatomic particles has NEVER benefitted anyone has it?
It may be that we cannot see the outcome right now. It may even prove to be that there IS no usefull info to be extracted from the LHC, and it's a giant flop. But without doing this experiment, we will not know.
What if the result of this research is a cheap, safe, sustainable source of power? Will it still be a waste of time then?
Even if all the LHC does is rovide more data, to be used by the next generation of scientists, to design more experiments, IMHO it is still worthwhile. Advancing our understanding of the universe is a worthwhile goal on its own, even if there are no immediate, tangible benefits.
If they hadn't spent a month trying to convince the world that the start date was last summer, no-one would be surprised or particularly concerned that a twenty year project has slipped a few months.
Oh, and Faraday was once asked what was the value of his research into electricity and magnetism. He replied, "Who knows, prime minister? Perhaps one day you'll be able to tax it." And for something closer to home, the transistor was predicted using some daft mathematical bollocks called quantum mechanics in the late 30s, but not actually built in the lab until the late 40s. Still think abstract physics research is useless? Well switch off your computer and crawl back home to your hovel, heated and lit by a wood fire, you miserable troglodyte.
"It seems that, like fractals, which are infinitely complex at whatever scale they are examined, "
Fractals are not infinitely complex, by definition they repeat themselves. Some fractals are not complex at all, consisting of nothing more than a few lines or a small spattering of "dust". The Mandelbrot set is infinite, but it is technically not a fractal (according to Benoit).
I know that you were trying really hard to sound intelligent in your article, but you have failed miserably. Please crawl back under whatever rock you call home, and ODFO.
Where the hell is Lester? Why has he been replaced with an amateur?
I suppose we shouldn't be "wasting" lots of cash in Nuclear Fusion either - nothing wrong with burning the inexaustible supplies of fossil fuels... oh wait... just maybe the potential rewards to the entire planet let alone the entire human race might actually benefit in some way that can't be measured in mere $'s.
Fuck off back under your prehistoric rock you total fucktard.
Robert Wilson, a leading American expert on accelerator design, had a better argument when he gave evidence before a Senate Committee. What, he was asked, would this expensive project do for the defence of the United States? 'Nothing', was the reply, 'but it will make the United States worth defending’.
Eurekas & Euphorias - The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes
At the very least they should be firing people.
They switch it on. It breaks immediately. They try to fix it. Something else breaks. Now *a year later* having achieved nothing but eat money they 'might' be thinking of switching it on again.
I don't believe it for a minute. The thing is so damned fragile it'll probably immediately break again, and eventually people will realize that throwing money at this isn't doing anything but getting a bunch of people quite rich.
We don't know right now exactly how the lessons learned from the LHC experiment will benefit society at large. That's why it's called an experiment. However, you can be sure that *something* will come of it. (Spray paint for blocking mobile phone signals, maybe?)
Anyway, you'll regret the day you asked for your flying car when you're stuck in a 3-D traffic jam.
Mine's the one that fastens with Velcro, a byproduct of the Apollo missions.
we might not need any money after the first time they boot this baby up for real lol, looking for 'god' particles ??? 'mini big bang' ??? WTFs a mini big bang, either its a BIG bang or it isnt innit ???
should be mighty interesting if theres anything left after the first (and only ??) run lol, this delay has allowed me to complete my very very very deep bunker in a disused coal mine in the uk, probably a waste of time, but heh, ya gotta look on the bright side and keep a stiff upper lip dont ya think ?? :O)
Refurbishing MoD offices - 1.5bn pounds
Widening the M1 - 1.9bn pounds
Replacing trident - 25bn pounds
World expenditure on cosmetics - 33bn dollars per year
Naked short selling and poor banking regulation - 1000's of bn's of dollars
World arms expenditure - 1200bn dollars per year
Iraq war - 2000-3000bn dollars and rising
Poorly informed journalism - priceless
Yes the LHC takes a long time and a lot of money, but at least it is useful to society. Look around you, practically every non-living thing that is there is a result of science and engineering. A little appreciation would go a long way.
What an enjoyable set of angry, cross, bemused, and ironic comments have come from the story. Yes it was not precise enough about fractals and hadrons and bosons and mesons and, yes, thank you CERN for the WWW which is priceless compared to the US space program's non-stick frying pan spin-off, but, well, it's almost as if fundamental physics research is a religion and shall not be questioned. Why ever not? How much does a research experiment in fundamental physics have to cost before it should be stopped?
Look how far you HAVE dome. You CAN have pop-tarts. And instead of eating the local fauna after running the little bastards down and killing them with your stick, you can make a living typing in a room without predators eating your ringpiece. And then BUY pop tarts to keep that ringpeice from getting too close to the seat.
And Chris, if you are going to be an arsehole, how com YOU get paid for it??? Fuckwit El Reg team.
If you knew a little about particle accelerators, you would know that magnets always need quenching when they are first turned on. And the next time they turn the LHC on there will be magnets needing quenching too. I imagine that they are spending this time checking every cable, solder joint, junction and weld on the damn thing so the failures won't be so catastrophic, but there _will_ be failures.
I apologise If I sound fanatical but I have little time for idiots. If a certain set of idiots in America hadn't cancelled that accelerator in Texas we might know more about
b) Failure modes in large particle accelerators.
"Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."
- Douglas Adams.
Perhaps if you'd been an ape-man you'd have been telling other ape-men that there was no point in banging the rocks together, guys...
Additionally, it is nice to remember CERN is an international organisation and even though a part (but not all, mind you) of its running costs comes from taxpayers' pockets - see e.g. http://dg-rpc.web.cern.ch/dg-rpc/Scale.html - its programs are nowhere as much of a burden to an average Joe as e.g. the infamous ID cards in the UK (and by extension, nowhere as sensitive to fuck-ups as government-funded programs - to give one example, the US-based RHIC runs only for up to 12 weeks a year and even so, thanks to Dubya's little war, it needed large private contributions to run AT ALL in the last two years or so).
"However, you can be sure that *something* will come of it."
Nope, I'm pretty sure that almost nothing useful will come out of it. The research done on the magnets to make it work? Maybe that will produce spinoff goodies but the experiment itself? I can be pretty sure that the tiny fizzing black hole of ephemeralness results will have no real utility to the vast majority of people being asked to front the money for it. I sincerely doubt that any two 'scientists" will agree that the said TFBHOE was actually formed after the thing has been spun up for real.
This money would be better spent on any of the following:
Flying Car research. I'll take the risk of Rubic's Traffic jams.
Rocketboots with an altimiter in the heel.
Jetmobiles. The concept has been around for nearly fifty years for Azathoth's sake, and *still* no prototype!
Gill pills (I mean, does *anyone* still think aqualungs are state of the art?) so people could really enjoy the Great Barrier Reef before it is gone.
The Tricorder - a massively useful device that delivers useful functionality in a small form factor without the need to connect it to the internet every five minutes for a critical update or only allow you to download the data it contains to five different computers.
A proper moonbase with regular shuttle service - no dome-shaped two-man garden shed affairs need apply. This, naturally, dictates a proper space station in Earth orbit, decently wheel shaped and spinning for gravity. Whoever thought that bunch of tins held together with mechanno was up to snuff should be roundly thrashed.
A string of power satelites beaming dirt cheap energy back to receiving stations on the Earth so these boodoggle electric cars everyone "wants" will actually *be* as clean as they claim. Ooops, sorry, my serious switch got flipped on that last one. Please delete it.
There. That should be enough to be going on with.
Did you even read the CERN press release? The plan is to start in Sept/Oct and collect data for around a year and well into 2010. There will not be a long (3-4 month) winter shut down as per usual at CERN. Also, no physicist predicted an "early 2009" startup - that was never on the cards! The startup is delayed by 6 weeks compared to the previous schedule, but since CERN has actually *saved* money it can presumably justify the more expensive power bills through the winter. Are you suggesting that having built the LHC we should not now run it because it would cost £14M to repair? Ever heard of the phrase "penny wise, pound foolish?"
The LHC is not designed to look for "ever smaller bits of things," it will, after a lot of hard work, finally reveal how the known indivisible "small bits" behave at energies above the electroweak scale. There are no plans for an even larger hadron collider and even if such a machine were desirable it would and could not be built for at least 50 years. £4B, when spread over several decades and taken from all of the World's richest nations is cock all to pay to continue the process of learning new things.
This article is just uninformed trolling really.
Congratulations sir - you've hit the core issue square on - questions that dare not be asked. Apparently, anyone who would question Advanced Science Research™ must be excoriated, called names and, were he physically present, undoubtedly spat upon.
Notice, all you who would rip me a new one, I'm neither praising the article nor am I condemning it - I am merely amused at the all so righteous indignation of some of the respondents in the comments section. You seem so hurt that not everyone in the world shares your reverence for Advanced Science Research™.
Personally, I like science and I support scientific research - I hope the LHC is a success and I support the furtherance of scientific research. But I also understand that there are quite literally billions of people on earth who're much more concerned about less ethereal matters such as providing food for themselves and their basic security in a violent life and that their concerns are neither irrelevant nor trivial. Further, I understand that such people are just as entitled to hold an opinion as I am and that their opinion is not necessarily invalidated by their station in life.
Reading the bitterness and vituperation in some of these comments reminds me that some of the most learned among us, while intellectually advanced, are less than fully emotionally mature and rank very low on the civility scale.
"How much does a research experiment in fundamental physics have to cost before it should be stopped?"
Interesting question! How about we actually let it START first so that we can find out? While the LHC could to some extent be considered an experiment itself, especially considering how much time it is expected to spend running each year (most, if not all, existing and past high-energy accelerators have never been put under so much strain), it's ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, LHCf, TOTEM and (insert future experiments' names here) that will actually produce scientific results.
I kind of feel you'd rather have CERN put the LHC back in operation right now, which AFAIK they could do (or at least it wouldn't take them longer than till March to get things going again) - because why wait and spend more money? Well, myself I'd rather have them install all those borderline-paranoid safety upgrades before they bring it back on to save resources and time in the future, thank you very much. Especially given that thanks to some schedule tweaking, the final milestone will not be delayed by that much (and some of its parts may actually be accelerated - the LHC workshop which took place in Chamonix recently has concluded with a strong possibility of first lead-lead collisions taking place in 2010, a year sooner than planned around the launch time.
Guys, do any of you REALLY know better than the high-foreheads in the land of clocks and nice chocolate?
Put yourselves in the position of those scientists hung from a rope long ago, now revered as geniuses.
Money and wealth is created, unlike matter. It may not last long but it can be put to good use by those who care. Let's drop funky stuff in tubes of dangerous gases to see what happens!
Stainless steel and vulcanised rubber are just two examples of useful things discovered after someone rummaged in the bin...
Paris because she is as qualified as any of us to argue either way.
Aren't trolls usually restricted to the comments section? Since when are they allowed to write articles?
Nevertheless, considering that the internet is only good for porn and flame wars and seeing that el Reg doesn't provide the former (articles for eePc not withstanding) then it makes sense for them to be fanning the flames as much as possible.
Keep up the good work guys, and buy Chris a muffin.
It crosses an international boundary, doesn't it? Switzerland and (um) France?
Do they have to get import/export licences on all those hadrons? If they do, perhaps a team of research accountants could come up with some form of VAT reclaimation scheme to lift us out of the credit crunch.
So the author should go back to living in a cave if he wants to question the value of a science experiment?
I'm a geek and I think the LHC is great, but it sounds to me like some of the others posting are a little quick to react
The article was taking a bit of a dig at what might still become a monumental flop.
Commercial TV was available in the 1930's and the early particle accelerators were proof of concept machines with the first built in 1932. X-rays were known in 1875 from cathode ray tube emissions. Einsteins 1921 Nobel prize was for the photomultiplier tube which led to scanning equipment. Without particle accelerators there would be very little not discovered except that particle physics is a better than the unemployment benefit for a group of glorified academics.
A single spin off I have heard of is a cancer treatment which took 40 years to implement from proof of concept. To pop a proton under the skin to an inch to two takes much less power than a machine with beams designed to burn through 40 km of copper. There is no practical commercial process that can not be accomplished by other cheaper and safer alternatives. For those who need particle accelerators to tell them what vintage wine they have in a bottle (a use for particle accelerators) the alternate method is to read the label.
The electron gun was developed separately and the bulk of useful scientific advances have involved the exploration of electricity which was started back in 1663 with charge collection devices. To date particle physics has produced no useful particles that last for more than a tenth of a nanosecond. If teeth decayed at the rate particles do they would useless. Even to call something that exists for such a fraction real is a bit of a joke because particles have a waveform duality meaning the science boffins may have just been watching energy changing form for the last seventy five years.