Wednesday, 10 September 2008

How many fingers am i holding up?

Since it's Wednesday and its gone 9:15am UK standard time and i'm sitting at a computer typing this it's fair to say that i haven't been blown to smithereens today.

No black hole has got out of control and swallowed the Earth, we haven't just witnessed a second Big Bang and yes, i really am going to have to pay off my mortgage.

In short either the Large Hadron Collider, buried somewhere under France (NB: Why France? Why did scientists decide that France was more expendable than any other country - do they not like the wine there?), has failed to go off or the conspiracy theorists were wrong - again.

Just once i think it would be quite nice for the poor old dears, sitting in their corners with their Tupperware containers full of marmite sandwiches (no crust) and smelling vaguely of railway stations, if they could be right. Wouldn't it be nice to think that our inept governments - incapable of downloading a couple of files without leaving them on a train - could organise global conspiracies including faking moon landings, alien/human hybrid colonisation and making Jim Carrey into a movie star despite any signs of obvious talent (admittedly that one is a bit hard to explain - joke)

Except, of course, that if the Quantum Physicists have got it right - then the conspiracy theorists were right all along.

Bear with me here, because few people outside of Stephen Hawking understand the full ramifications, but the upshot is that modern Quantum Physics suggests a theory of infinite realities where every possiblity is played out. Remember that day when you woke up and couldn't face eating that bowl of cornflakes? Well, Quantum Mechanics says that in one reality you said no, whilst in another you decided you quite liked cornflakes and choked to death on them.

So with every possiblity played out it does give one a little leway in life - sure your life in this reality may not be that great, but just think - in another corner of the universe you're currently King of the Watusi (Yay you!)

But then i was discussing this very thing with the man at the train station this morning and we were talking about how some people believed the Large Hadron Collider was going to end all life as we know it by the end of the day and he sighed and tutted and said: "Typical...and i've got a new shed coming at the weekend"

Sometimes you just can't win, can you?


The Clandestine Samurai said...

Yes, of course. There are a million pathways that play out into realities and new universes in their own. In another universe, I ate the cornflakes and had another bowl. In yet another, I decided to have toast, which somehow led to me meeting my future wife and serial killer.

So, what are you saying? The guy at the train station believes this is the reality where the Large Hadron Collider under France will bring us to an end? Perhaps so. Perhaps it will end world hunger. Perhaps it will turn us all into insects. Perhaps it's really just a Playstation 3.

Now, I would like to see what those Quantum Physicists have to say about how time factors into those realities, as in going back and forth through them. You ever heard of the Grandfather Paradox?

pohanginapete said...

Great to see the way the LHC project has generated not just huge interest, but wonderful humour (like your post, and Stuart Jefferies' essay in the Guardian).

It's also been criticised for wasting money and brainpower that could be used to address climate change or world hunger (an argument I'd reject), but in fact the LHC might have practical uses sooner than we expect. Some of the editors at Scientific American worked out that it could defrost a pizza in 30 nanoseconds. While that might do little to assuage world hunger, miniature versions (Small Hadron Colliders, to use my sister's term) might be in our kitchens within a few years, and one malfunction might see us all spaghettified (the current fad word) or, as the samurai suggests, turned into insects.

It's all quite Kafkaesque, although not enough to drive me to marmite sandwiches.

The Clandestine Samurai said...

I didn't realize the Large Hadron Collider was a real thing until I just skimmed an internet news post.

Lydia said...

Yay you! This is a great post.

Have you seen the rap video about the collider? Evidently it's been viewed a gazillion times or so. Go to Francessa's Thinking to view it and another topical video.

Gotta go, another universe is calling...

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Samuria - and that's just the decisions based around cornflakes...just think where tying your shoelaces could get you.

The chap at the station was demonstrating old fashioned British humour - had me laughing for ages.

I have indeed heard of the Grandfather Paradox - the most famous cultural example being Back To The Future. Actually, i'd be more interested in meeting my great-grandfather.

Poghaginapete - i hear Stephen Hawking has a £50 bet they wont find the Higgs Bosun particle, so it won't be a total waste of money!

SHCs in the house could be a bad idea, but i believe it will take them somewhere near 25-30 years to study all the data. I think we have to look at the long term gains we will get as opposed to the short term costs

Lydia - thanks for the link, that was fantastic - really made me smile

Why wasn't science this interesting at school? If only they'd thought of this in Geography...or maybe they couldn't find a rhyme for Teutonic Plates??

Michael said...

I like the idea of choosing my reality for the day. God complex?
Funny post, DFTP. Your natural sarcasm and wit flow easily.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

michael - glad you least i hope you did!

Honour said...

i thought the story about the black hole being a possibility was hilarious and fascinating.

OF COURSE, it's going to end the world.

Everything ends the world.

I'm much better with these news stories, now. Especially, after I realized all of the food I stored in my pantry for the world pandemic four years ago is probably now inedible ... I did feed the bottled water to my plants, though ...

glad to see a posting on it ..

Miss Bah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Bah said...

It's hard to take these things seriously, cause they seem too far away. A black hole swallowing the earth, that is at the moment, beyond my imagination. Perhaps it wasn't too realistical either... Hmm I don't know. xD

I heard the critiques in the early morning, and then they said in the after-talks: "We are later going to discuss; what would you do if you only had one day left to live?" I thought about that as well, and I realized that I probably wouldn't achieve something great and extraordinary in just one day... So I just decided to take easily on these facts about the "ending of the world", and I had an extremely lazy and unproductive day instead.

Haha I like the train guy.