Have we killed ourselves finally?

Discussion in 'The Study' started by Bill Mattocks, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    I'll take a 3 and a pair of 8's. :D
     
  2. Archangel M

    Archangel M Senior Master

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    I'm gonna be fine.

    Yall however are screwed.
     
  3. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's the theory. Some scientists dispute it. I note that the scientist who runs LHC said that the chances of a black hole being created that would consume the world were 'extremely small'. He did not say they did not exist.

    Hell, we don't even know how big across an electron is. Check it yourself - today's news. Turns out we were wrong about the diameter of an electron, which makes a whole bunch of constants, er, not so constant.

    I don't claim to be a scientist, but I do understand the difference between 'no chance' and 'very small chance'. Very small chance means MAYBE it could happen. I think MAYBE is a very ugly word when it comes to sucking the entire planet into a tiny speck of compressed goo.
     
  4. Empty Hands

    Empty Hands Senior Master

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    Who? I can't imagine too many mainstream physicists reject Hawking Radiation and the blackbody temperature of small vs. large black holes.

    That's scientist-ese for you. On here, I use a lot of definite language. My scientific publications on the other hand are full of "supports", "is consistent with", "suggests" and similar language, as are those of other scientists. It's just the culture and the epistemology, the recognition that nothing is 100% definite. Even when it basically is.

    Proton, yes. One experiment though. In the end though that's the beauty of science - ever self-correcting.
     
  5. Omar B

    Omar B Senior Master

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  6. Empty Hands

    Empty Hands Senior Master

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  7. crushing

    crushing Grandmaster

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    Don't worry, Lunsanto Energy Corp. says the mining operations are perfectly safe and they have the government approvals to proceed with the operations. In fact, it is considered so safe that the administration exempted the mining operations from the often required environmental impact studies. The media hasn't said a thing about these exemptions being related to the record campaign contributions, so only the waco wingnuts from the other side would even consider such a thing.

    "The events depicted in this post are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental."
     
  8. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Clever! Because if they say there might be a remote danger of creating a stable black hole, they're by definition not mainstream, are they?

    Here's the thing. Science is full of unknowns and of course the purpose of experimentation is to find out what happens, to solve for X. I love that stuff, I'm a science geek. However, in scenarios involving planetary destruction, I tend to err on the side of caution. Even a very small possibility that the LHC would create a stable black hole and suck us all into it seems to me to be something with which one might reasonably be concerned. I'm not at all happy about the 'well it most likely won't happen' philosophy being displayed.

    The press and the public reaction has been worse. They crowed when the world failed to disappear in a puff of smoke when the LHC was turned on; well no screaming eagle caca, that wasn't the danger. They laughed derisively when the world failed to exit stage left when the LHC actually began colliding particles; at nothing like the rated full power when CERN scientists themselves say that they'll be producing up to hundreds of mini black-holes per day (theoretically). The press likes a good sneer, as does the unwashed public. Of course, if at full power the LHC does manage to produce a stable black hole, there won't be enough time for me to smash each of those idiots in the mouth before we all get sucked into it.

    So perhaps it doesn't matter. Get it, matter? I slay myself. Or maybe the LHC will slay me. And you.

    Well, that's kind of the point, isn't it? The basis, the underpinning quantum math used to make these calculations for the safety of the LHC at monstrous power is changing. It's unstable information, and yet we're using it as if it were accurate to produce our 'ta-dah, no danger' pronouncements.

    Let's face it, scientists are eager to see the Higgs boson if it exists. And if there is a tiny chance it might destroy the world, hey, no pain no gain. I'm just not quite as Nutsy Fagen happy about it as they are.
     
  9. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Everybody knows it's the Xists. Duh.

    http://www.poee.org/documents/Other_Religions/Church_of_the_SubGenius/Dictionary_of_the_Gods.htm#x
     
  10. Empty Hands

    Empty Hands Senior Master

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    If they reject Hawking Radiation and the blackbody radiation of small vs. large black holes, then they are not mainstream.

    I see your point, but it just doesn't jive with the other infinitesimal risks we face every day. See the list of world-enders I posted before. There is a non-zero chance a gamma ray burst will hit before I finish typing this and we all die. I won't stay up nights about it. The scientists in the Manhattan Project felt there was a reasonable chance that the atomic bomb would start a nuclear chain reaction that would not stop until the entire world was consumed. They went and exploded it anyhow. You face a risk orders of magnitude higher to your personal safety every time you get in your car than you do from the LHC.

    There comes a time when even if the risk is non-zero, it isn't really worth worrying about.
     
  11. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's my point, again. If a scientist has a problem with the probability of microscopic black holes being stable, he has put himself outside of the mainstream, and from your argument, is therefore wrong. The one does not demand the other. Mainstream is mainstream, it is not synonymous with 'correct'.

    Here's the differences...

    With regard to Gamma Ray Bursts (or super-calderas, or meteor strike, etc), there is nothing we can do to stop them. Out of our control, and I agree, no point to fretting about them.

    With regard to the Manhattan project, it happened before I was born, and I could not very well object to it. If I had been alive, and aware of the risks, I would most likely have urged caution. That it did not turn out to be a world-ender is a Good Thing, but doesn't mean that all similar risks are equally safe.

    With regard to my personal safety, I quite agree. However, my choices affect myself and a small subset of the populace. My overeating or poor diet or lack of exercise or poor driving skills or riding a motorcycle without a helmet or smoking or drinking too much are all not going to end the world - only my world. My life, my risk. To the extent that my choices affect the rights of others, they are right to fret and to pass laws to try to keep me from killing them (DUI laws and that sort of thing).

    Here we are talking about a very small cadre of scientists (in proportion to the population of the world) who propose a series of tests designed to push back the frontiers of theoretical science and get some answers. Very good, I love it. Then there is a small issue that the proposed collisions, will, by their own estimates, create thousands of microscopic black holes. They believe that these black holes are not stable, and will quickly evaporate. However, the risk is not zero (I read the 2002 summary report).

    While unlikely, the risk is not to themselves but to the entire planet, as it was when the Manhattan Project was in full swing. The fears of some scientists about what happened when you detonated an atomic bomb in the atmosphere were wrong; but that has zero impact on this new set of risks and fears.

    I submit that when the risk involves self-destruction, the requirements for safety are rightfully lower than when the risk involves the destruction of this entire ball of mud we live on. At least until we're done with it.
     
  12. cdunn

    cdunn 2nd Black Belt

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    I submit for your consideration the existence of millions of high energy collisions in the earth's upper atmosphere every day, and the continued existance of the earth. There are velocity differences, yes, but the fact remains that it has been likely that a micro-hole has been generated at low relative velocity to the earth untold millions of times in the last 5 billion years.
     
  13. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Once again, there is a difference between risks we cannot control and risks which we can. I can't condone us doing it just because there are similar risks which happen in nature and we cannot control.

    Furthermore, I don't know that they are identical, therefore I don't accept that the risks are identical.

    People say "It's more risky to walk across the street than to run the LHC at rated power." OK, let's look at that. If you walking across the street only endangers yourself, it's none of my business. If somehow you walking across the street puts my life at risk, I think I have a right to object to it. The LHC doesn't just pose a risk to the boffins involved, but to all of us. We all have a stake in the safety of the bloody thing.
     
  14. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    I can't believe that you really believe the line of reasoning you are carrying forward here, Bill.

    The fact that you drive a car, even tho your are in America, is a risk to my health. The fact that you, along with your countrymen, consume a disproportionate amount of resources that is beggaring the planet, is a risk to my health. I don't lose any sleep over either of those risks because they are infinitesimally small.

    All that is at risk in the Hadron Collider is that we might learn something.
     
  15. Archangel M

    Archangel M Senior Master

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    Hmmm. Where da Oil at?

    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bp-oil-spill-crude-mother-nature-breaks-slick/story?id=11254252

    Mother Nature may be able to deal with an organic substance that came out of the Earth? Without human help? Say it isn't so!!!

    Well at least we still have 2012 to worry about.
     
  16. Empty Hands

    Empty Hands Senior Master

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    Not visible in giant patches doesn't mean "gone." Nor does "reabsorbed". It may very well mean "dispersed into tiny particles and currently poisoning the microbial food chain." Or "congealed in giant clumps in 300 feet of water".
     
  17. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Master of Arts

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    Romulans Bob, Romulans.

    Always wondered what would have happend if the Battlestar Galactica and the Cylons had bumped into a decloaking Warbird or a Klingon Bird of Prey (it looks cooler to me but didn't have the decloaking feature.)

    Galactica and the Cylons were low-tech and would not have had a chance.

    Deaf
     
  18. Senjojutsu

    Senjojutsu Blue Belt

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    Here's an environmental risk we can control Bill:

    Late night dining at Taco Bell + sunrise = methane eruptions :)

    Going through all the hyperlinks within this thread I feel comfort retreating to the sage of one of America’s greatest living intellects, Homer J. Simpson:

    "Eggheads, what do they know!"
     
  19. chaos1551

    chaos1551 Blue Belt

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    I kinda hope you're right. I was really rooting for nuclear technology to cause a chain reaction that would wipe out all matter in the universe, too. Er.. from my mother's ovaries, anyway. I was rather disappointed and I am highly inconvenienced.123
     

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