The LHC: What is it?

October 19, 2009

I’ve been meaning to write something about the LHC for awhile now, and since we’re on the verge of it’s re-start, I figured I’d get’er done and get something out.

For those who are new to the LHC, hopefully I can give you some super cheap and easy run-down about what it is, because even I won’t be able to explain it very well.

The LHC stands for Large Hadron Collider, and is in essence, a particle accelerator.  It’s built in the shape of a ring so particles sent in opposite directions along the ring will eventually collide.  The circumference of this beast is roughly 27km, making it the largest particle accelerator in the world.  It’s based in Geneva, Switzerland, but it’s shear size (it’s about 100m underground, by the way) puts half of it over the border into France.

One of the giant magnets of the LHC.

One of the giant magnets of the LHC.

In a sense, this is basically a giant physics experiment.  So big in fact, that it cost a solid £2.6 billion (roughly $4.6 billion), spread over the cooperation of 20 European countries.  The entire instrument was created by CERN, or the European Center of Nuclear Research.  If you’re curious how that acronym  works, CERN stands for the french version (Centre European de Researche Nucleaire).

While the LHC was built over the years from 1996 to 2004, it’s first start-up was not until August 2008, which ended with some faulty wiring (can’t remember the cause), causing it to shut down for repairs.  With a re-start planned for sometime this year, it should be coming soon!  At the moment, I think they’re cooling it down yet again, down to 1.9K (K meaning Kelvin).  For reference, zero degrees Kelvin is -270C.

More to come about the LHC, including it’s experiments, and it’s issues.

More blackey holeness.

October 18, 2009

People seem to really be digging the black holes these days, but I don’t mind one bit, because as soon as there’s a story about one (and I actually hear about it), then it’ll be here!

So to keep on with that theme, Chinese scientists have apparently created an artifical black hole, without the help of the LHC.


Some type of experiment... can't really even make something up at this point.

It an attempt to actually capture and trap visible light, an 8.5 inch black hole was created.  However, don’t worry your pretty little heads, because unlike your typical black hole out in space, this one was induced magnetically, not gravitationally. The reason the LHC was so ‘frightening’ when it turned on, was for the fear of creating a black hole which would pull everything around into it’s blackey abyss, which includes this fantastic, oxygen-bearing planet of ours.  However, this one is not the same.  In other terms, instead of sucking in the surrounding light into it’s center, this artificially created black hole, bends the light towards the center, creating a relatively harmless black hole, except for all those stupid photons… AAAHAHAHAHA!  Useless I tells you!

Anyways, with the advancement of this technology, the hope is to create a ‘trap’ for light gathered from the Sun via solar cells.  Sort of like a storage for sunlight, which sounded a lot cooler when I wrote it.  Doesn’t that sound cool?!  Imagine carrying a briefcase of sunlight around!?  I know that’s not exactly what they intend to do, but it’s still cool… so shut it!

Time to initiate some fun…

October 18, 2009

Popping up around Europe, and created by Volkswagen, this is probably the best initiative I’ve heard about in awhile.

I can’t remember where I heard about this, but it’s a wicked initiative bent on turning mundane things in everyday life into something that you look forward to, or just plainly have fun doing!  The video below explains it all, via an experiment done in Stockholm, Sweden, to get more people to use the stairs instead of the escalator.

The initiative is called The Fun Theory, and was created by Volkswagen as a way to get people to basically kick their daily routine up a notch, and hopefully get their asses moving in the meantime (like myself).  Not only is this a good idea, but I think supremely necessary for us.  More and more, we take for granted of certain devices (i.e. escalators) and services (i.e. hookers) that may make our lives easier, but necessarily better.  Integrating all this into our everyday lives, we forget how beneficial it was without any of it.

Here’s a link to the offical site for The Fun Theory, which unfortunately is all in German, so if you speak or read German, good for you.

UPDATE:  They updated the english site!

Stop embarrassing yourselves…

October 5, 2009

I understand the whole activist thing, and I don’t mind it at all,  but Greenpeace… really.

Yet again they attack the Tar Sands of Alberta.  Now, I’m a little torn to be completely honest.  I’m in the geology business, but I refuse to work for oil.  Not because I think it’s wrong, and the Earth is being destroyed yada yada, but because why would I want to work anywhere near the root of all current controversy?  No thanks… keep me out of Alberta.  But on the other side of the coin, in current times oil is pretty essential.  It’s too bad that it has become essential, but we’re in too deep now, and until we’re able to weasle our way of it, we’re going to have to keep using it.

Impressive...... the truck, I mean.

At least they're wearing protective gear.

Ok wait, I forgot to mention how I got to this.  The other day, 12 Greenpeace activists stormed an upgrader (a giant building where they break down oil for other uses… like say, gas for your car to drive to a Greenpeace rally).  The upgrader is located in the Alberta tar sands, and this is apparently the 4th time they’ve done this.  The first three must not have worked, because nobody cared.  Regardless, they’re protesting the ‘dirtiness’ of retrieving oil from the sands, and the energy it uses, and all the environmental implications.  Yes, it’s a dirty job… yes, it mostly revolves around giant corporations making money, and that’s a total downside to the system, and most people end up getting the shaft.  But, this will never change… again, we’re in too deep, and whether we like it or not, we rely on oil.

I hate to say it, but taking over factories, and chaining yourselves to trucks is not going to do a whole lot.  I’m glad you’re taking interest, but you’d have more chance of making a difference if you became a politician.  In fact, you’d have more chance of making a difference if you wrote a letter to a politician.  In case you’re wondering, there isn’t much of a chance… point is, aggressive activism such as Greenpeace demonstrations, do so much less than other forms of activism.

And unless these people that came from all over the world to protest, came by sailboat, or Davinci’s peddal-bird, and used bacon grease to run their trucks to storm the place, I’m calling them hipocrites.  I’m guessing they didn’t, since they’re probably vegetarians too, and don’t eat bacon.  It’s a humdinger if I ever dinged a hum…

(I’d say hummed a ding, but that just doesn’t seem right…)