Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What's a little impending doom among friends?

As you hopefully know, CERN's Large Hadron Collider—one of the most elaborate physics experiments ever built—is finally finished and was first turned on several weeks ago. Leaving aside the fact that it broke down a few days later (!), I've been truly surprised by how many people are worried that it's going to create some sort of time-space anomaly that could destroy the world. The subject came up recently over lunch and (to my surprise) the majority of my PFM sisters were freaked out about our planet's impending Swiss-wrought doom.

And they're clearly not the only ones, since the BBC broadcast an interview the day before the collider was turned on in which they asked a scientist about the possibility of black holes being created during the experiments. His response was to laugh knowingly and say not to worry; even if the experiments do create (tiny) black holes, "there's no chance of them devouring the world. Ha, ha, ha!"

I couldn't find the exact interview, but here's a very similar one. Unfortunately it doesn't quite recreate the awkwardness of that scientist's particular response. I think the definition of 'egghead' somehow fundamentally involves the idea of believing so deeply in science that you'll laugh at another person's fear of death as if they were confusing a Stephen King novel for reality. "Black holes? Ha! Next thing I know, you'll be worried about langoliers!"

1 comment:

rmonkeygirl said...

hmm... langoliers ARE scary. ;)