Best end to an article ever

I won’t pretend that I understand quantum physics, or quite understand what the actual issues regarding CERN’s new Large Hadron Collider are, but the final paragraph of an article about it in the New York Times gives one of the greatest article closers I’ve ever seen:

Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”


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  1. as a meal…. I hope I taste good.

    • OPOL on March 30, 2008 at 00:04

    17 miles in circumference.  They’re hoping to find the Higgs Bosun – the God particle…could be dragons though, ya never know.

  2. puts all the ‘sky is falling’ chickenlittling we do in proper perspective. Thanks made me smile, got to love the quantum physicists. My favorite brand of scientists. Usually the kernel of truth, from any story reported by the MSM is at the bottom. Technology or sorcery in the Super cauldron?  

    • kj on March 30, 2008 at 01:17

    i read this aloud to the physicist, who is working on his laptop while i play on mine (so goes the modern family) and he mumbled something about “conversation laws” then stopped, chuckled and said, “Well, he said ‘might…'” before going back into his work.

    he isn’t normally this humorless. 😉

    personally, i thought it was really funny.  “… make dragons that might eat us up.”  🙂  

    • Edger on March 30, 2008 at 01:17

    The Need to Understand Mass

    By Roger Cashmore Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK.

    What determines the size of objects that we see around us or indeed even the size of ourselves? The answer is the size of the molecules and in turn the atoms that compose these molecules. But what determines the size of the atoms themselves? Quantum theory and atomic physics provide an answer. The size of the atom is determined by the paths of the electrons orbiting the nucleus. The size of those orbits, however, is determined by the mass of the electron. Were the electron’s mass smaller, the orbits (and hence all atoms) would be smaller, and consequently everything we see would be smaller. So understanding the mass of the electron is essential to understanding the size and dimensions of everything around us.

    It might be hard to understand the origin of one quantity, that quantity being the mass of the electron. Fortunately nature has given us more than one elementary particle and they come with a wide variety of masses. The lightest particle is the electron and the heaviest particle is believed to be the particle called the top quark, which weighs at least 200,000 times as much as an electron. With this variety of particles and masses we should have a clue to the individual masses of the particles.

    Unfortunately if you try and write down a theory of particles and their interactions then the simplest version requires all the masses of the particles to be zero. So on one hand we have a whole variety of masses and on the other a theory in which all masses should be zero. Such conundrums provide the excitement and the challenges of science.

    There is, however, one very clever and very elegant solution to this problem, a solution first proposed by Peter Higgs. He proposed that the whole of space is permeated by a field, similar in some ways to the electromagnetic field. As particles move through space they travel through this field, and if they interact with it they acquire what appears to be mass. This is similar to the action of viscous forces felt by particles moving through any thick liquid. the larger the interaction of the particles with the field, the more mass they appear to have. Thus the existence of this field is essential in Higg’s hypothesis for the production of the mass of particles.

    We know from quantum theory that fields have particles associated with them, the particle for the electromagnetic field being the photon. So there must be a particle associated with the Higg’s field, and this is the Higgs boson. Finding the Higgs boson is thus the key to discovering whether the Higgs field does exist and whether our best hypothesis for the origin of mass is indeed correct.

    September 2007

    It’s one of the great unanswered questions of science. What gives matter its mass? By generating conditions present moments after the big bang, scientists hope to locate the elusive ‘God Particle’. “This is going to take us to the next layer of understanding”, enthuses Prof Geoff Taylor. The Hadron Collider at CERN, due to be switched on next year, will shoot beams of energy around a 27 km loop, smashing them into each other at the speed of light. It’s all in the hope of detecting the Higgs Boson, or ‘God’ particle, thought to give matter its mass. CERN scientists will also create mini black holes and search for dark matter. As Taylor states: “We are on the verge of discovering how our universe evolved from the first few fractions of a second.”

    un-embeddable video here

    What is the large hadron collider? What does it do? And will it destroy the universe when we switch it on?

    • kj on March 30, 2008 at 03:19

    past time to go dark.

  3. the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”

    Please pardon me, but does this mean that the LHC might make dragons and that if it does, there are some dragons it might make that might not eat us?  And does it mean that it might make surprising things that are not dragons?

    These f*cking scientists are plenty smart. But for people who are supposed to be precise, they leave a helluva lot to be desired.

    When I parse the quote, I understand that the LHC might make all kinds of things, including but not limited to dragons.  I’m not afraid of the vegetarian dragons, I do fear the human eating ones.  I understand from the quote that the LHC might produce other things I am afraid of, though, like huge swarms of large, neon colored, flying cockroaches the diet of which is solely human skin.  So why are they not giving us the odds?

    Pass me the tin foil.

    • shpilk on March 30, 2008 at 06:46

    works at Brookhaven, and about 10 years ago I got in a discussion with him about the very thing.

    Some points we discussed were ..

    We are being bombarded with cosmic radiation all the time that has more energy than the LHC can provide. He pointed out the obvious advantage to having the LHC is that we can control the experiment and have instrumentation at the ready to observe any possible creation the ‘God Particle’ – the Higgs Boson. [Which no one apparently is supposed to mention, they think talking about it jinxes finding it – lol]

    The other point is Hawking’s .. that even if one were to create a quantum singularity, the size of it would be so small that is would lose mass more quickly than it could capture mass. This nascent ennsy weensy ‘black hole’ would evaporate in a billionth of a second or so [maybe long enough to be recorded, perhaps].

    So yes, anything is possible.

    I could be the Pope, for instance.  

  4. I have it on good authority (the dragons in my basement) that they don’t eat people.  We taste like chicken.

  5. and the nature of “entanglement” does mean that every possibility exists at the same time, all the time.  Feeling like its doomsday?  It’s because it has happened before.  Want peace?  Intentionally create it as a viable possibility!

    I know, I know, weekends are not for lessons on quantum physics…however, it really is something very relevant to today, and to creating the reality we want on this earth!

    As for the dragons, as long as they scoop up bush, cheney and other nefarious types, I’m cool with them!  Now that would be an “ending” I would enjoy!

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