Well, in a couple months anyway, but the start of the end of the world is almost here.
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN gets turned on at midnight tonight (countdown site currently down, annoyingly), and it’s all a little bit exciting. Will it prove the existence of the Higgs boson, will it create a mini black hole and destroy the planet, or will it be a 16.5 mile long £5 billion waste of time? Time will tell, probably, but in the meantime it’s all quite cool to think about.
Lots of people are scared that the thing will indeed create a black hole, but then some other scientists say that even if it does the thing will only be around for a tiny tiny tiny fraction of a second, so it won’t matter. But basically nobody knows. In related news, nobody knew before they detonated the first H-bomb underwater, whether the reaction would propogate around all the water on the planet or not. Indeed nobody was even certain that the very first one detonated wouldn’t just keep reacting through all the matter in the planet. And those both turned out alright, so we’ll be fine! Right?!
When the particle beams are going at full speed (something like 99.99991% the speed of light) in opposite directions, they’re doing laps of this entire 16.5 mile loop over 11,000 times per second. That’s pretty fucking fast, fast enough for a total of 30 million particle collisions per second. That’s a lot of black holes.
With this many collisions happening and it all having to be logged (well, not all, the computers determine which collisions may have generated something interesting and only stores results for those) there’s a shitload of data to process. I forget how much exactly, because I’m dumb and it’s been several hours since I read it, but look:
And apparently the full turn on and first usage is scheduled for September 10th, so we’ve got a month left before it all goes bang. Yay!
I so need to spend more time writing shit like this and not watch telly whilst I do it, this is an awful post.