All the world's media is going bananas over "first beam" day at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world's most stupendous particle-punisher, which switched on this morning (following an initial hiccup which appeared to be fixed by the traditional expedient of turning it off then on again). Today, it is being strongly implied …
I was a bit confused when I picked up my copy of the metro on my way to work this morning as well.. I too was under the impression that today was just the day of making small things go in circles without actually making anything collide (on purpose anyway). Many thanks to El Reg for halting my 3 hour nagging disbelief that maybe they had decided 'the heck with it' and fired up both streams just to see what happened.
May I offer my profound congratulations on your discovery of the theoretical oxymoron particle 'Journalistic Integrity'.
Anon, because as previously stated, I am currently at work, and google indexes everything :o)
Today is however
world suicide day, so maybe they should turn that knob. Oh wait suicide *prevention* day. That's a mistake I won't make again, time to get my stomach pumped.
coat -> hospital
no news like bad news
Maybe the reason the press (and meeja) is all over this project is that they absolutely revel in bad news: the worse, more spectacular, the better. Take for example the recent (well, a month or two ago) rise in oil prices. Seemingly every news broadcast told us how we were all heading for poverty and would freeze to death at the first sign of winter. Fast forward to now - the oil price is barely above $100/barrel and where's the coverage?
Likewise with the LHC. Every news programme was at pains to tell us that the world wouldn't end - well, they were right (hooray! for journalistic integrity) but managed to portray the CERN experiments as if they would happen today, preferably just before tea-time. No doubt the journo's will pack their bags this evening after having had a very nice jolly in Switzerland for a few days and that'll be the last of it. Even though the world won't end tomorrow, either.
No doubt when there actually IS some news: the culmination of many year's work and £Bns spent, it might just make the "and finally" section - unless of course it's bad news.
It is articles like this why I read el Reg over any other news source. When it comes to stuff other than stick thin people who other people insist on taking photos of you guys are one the few who actually know their stuff.
Keep up the good work, lads (and lass) :)
One quick question, please correct me if I am wrong.
This device is suppose to contain something like 16,000,000 magnets making it the most powerful magnet in the world. This powerful magnet is underground around one of the biggest banking districts in the world. Unless something drastic has happened lately banks rely on computers for pretty well everything including when to use the bathroom. Computers and magnets do not go well together.
"The Big Knob"?
If you are really worried
You can keep an eye on whether we have been destroyed yet here:
Apocalypse not now
The Today programme was a particulalry egregious example of journalists not quite getting it. Even the sports correspondent was cracking wise: we won't have to worry about England's football performaces if Armegeddon is unleashed.
A stream of finger-wagging emails arrived in the Today inbox, scolding them for not taking the end of the world seriously enough (which shows their listeners haven't been paying attention either). To his credit, John Humphrys pointed out that if the end was indeed nigh, nobody would be around to complain about their frivolous broadcasting.
Quick (stupid) question for the Register's boffinish readership: if each beam is travelling "close to the speed of light", what's the closing speed of the two beams?
That has got to have been the most boring tv show, no machines pinging, no terrorists holding the beards hostage unless they aim the hardon colliduh at murica, at the very least the head beard could have said 'oh no, that. shouldn't. be. doing. that... RUN!!!!' and laughed at the tv people scrambling for the exit
hell even the the graphics looked like a pong machine
at least 24 is back on soon
What ever you do
do not tell the loony fringe today wasn't the day they were dreading - as then they can carry on with life without the worry and the rest of us don't have to hear their panic caused by their limited understanding
PH - but if today was really the last day I suspect there'd !be a queue there ;)
"Never let facts...
... get in the way of a good story."
There's a good reason why i've not watched television in over 4 years.
iPlayer is my friend; For everything else, there's alluc.org
this will happen "by the end of the year".
Can't they be more specific? Is it worth buying Christmas presents, or not?
And I took today off to spend the last day of the world with the missus...
Ah well at least it was a good day
Roll on the Proton beams
unprecedentedly puissant particle cannons
unprecedentedly puissant particle cannons
Everything I know about particle physics I learned in Marvel Comics
Can any Reg-reading particle physicists who might be taking a break from releasing Lovecraftian horrors into this dimension answer this question honestly?
'Do you ever get an overwhelming urge to stand in front of the beam in the hope of getting super powers?'
Good to hear someone in the press has a clue
Makes a change.
Paris - because she probably knows more about this than most of the "arrrrg, the world's going to end" press.
excellent as always
I don't think I've read a Lewis Page article that hasn't made me laugh out loud.
Radio 4's Big Bang Day
Presumably they are going to have another day when the science actually starts, called the Big Knob Day.
Plenty of those around in the media today though...
For promising to stay on the story.
Maybe there will be cake.
Rely on the Reg!
I had thought it just barely possible that it was only me that had noticed that today's hype was a little premature.
I will be checking the Reg frequently for news on this, with interest and indeed a degree of concern - if of course the Reg (and all of us) is still here!
We have a cheaper alternative right here in the good 'ol United states of Kingdom.
A mile below the earth and well away from any reporters is a similar device doing similar work. All beit on a smaller scale and working with "in the wild" particles.
If you ever find yourself near this place, which is close to Whitby, then please try to organise a trip down the mine as it really is fasinating. It's hard to imagine you are so deep you can feel the heat from the earths core on the walls.
Paris as she deffinately likes it deep.......I'll get me coat ;-)
It gets worse
I heard they may turn "The Big Knob" up to 11!!
Cross the beams
Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm a little fuzzy on the whole "good/bad" thing here. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr. Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal!
Good work Lewis
... very useful information that I hadn't gleaned from any other source.
So that explains why the world didn't end this morning. :-)
I hope you will give us a few days warning before the BIG ONE.
Will it help if I put a paper bag on my head?
*Heart because Lewis is so good that I actually signed up to post this comment!
I love the fact that, here in Blighty at least, the media hype over the LHC turning-onage is aimed at the sort of people who get their science from Heat magazine or GMTV. They can't explain particle physics or the Higgs Boson properly so why not frighten the plebs shitless with something very scary sounding, like Black Holes? And 'jokingly' announce the end of the world from their comfy sofas. Even BBC News, which is the best of a bad bunch, had that silly cow on it going on about how we probably shouldn't go into work today, or have a fry-up instead of musli. It was actually bloke doing the weather that tried to introduce some rationality to the proceedings!
Like the author said, it's not been cranked up to 12 yet and we won't see the results for a few years, whilst in the mean time, the great unwashed will have forgotten about it by the weekend.
I'm not a physics whizz but I read about the subject (can't pretend to understand a lot of it!) and am fascinated by the subject. Here's hoping the Reg keeps us up to date with developments at the LHC, in all its lovely geekery goodness!
Typing from CERN
Yes, today is just a chance to get a single beam all the way around, no full collisions yet.
I have had a quick look in the ATLAS control room, and well its heaving in there with people and media.
As i speak a 2nd beam should be going around the ring and this afternoon there will be some bottles opened to celebrate many years of hard work.
this will happen "by the end of the year".
Well, obviously...think about it
Hear hear! but...
Don't forget that the experiment is generating a lot of media interest in a science project for once, rather than the current hysterical screams about some crunchy breakfast cereal or other.
I've hardly seen a single hadline decrying the end of the world either, which has to be a good thing. Maybe I've not been giving the British media the credit it deserves...
I hadn't been paying too much attention, so it was only after reading further into this mornings hype that I realised this was not in fact the day they push the Big Red Button and destroy us all. The best we could hope for was a miss-aligned electromagnet, resulting an a very deep, narrow whole in part of the Alps and, possible, a very surprised goat herd.
I also object to the beeb's article, claiming "Success for 'Big Bang' experiment", which as you said, is bollocks.
Good to know
Knowing the ADD levels of today's journalism, it's good to hear that The Reg will report when the apocalypse button actually gets pressed. I'd feel pretty stupid if the glow-of-doom from the Alps was the first warning I get.
Top form today Lewis.
Lets crank it up to eleven!
Mines the one with the unlicenced particle accelerator on the back.
Engineering at it's best
"following an initial hiccup which appeared to be fixed by the traditional expedient of turning it off then on again"
Forget about the God particle, when will science discover the elusive "Gremlin particle"?
The evil beast which builds up inside electrical systems, wreaking havoc until some idiot says "have you tried turning it off and on again". When you eventually succumb to the annoying wittering said gremlin particles are destroyed by the loss of electricity and the bloody thing works again!
With this discovery Microsoft might finally be able to create an OS that doesn't need restarting every few weeks... No, sorry, that's just because it's code is shit...
We should also spend time finding the "weak engineering god atom", the atom which constantly fixes weak hardware until finally somebody decides to turn off the power, killing the weak engineering god atom and causing the hardware to explode the next time the power is applied. For examples see 30 year old mainframes and, strangely, light bulbs.
I did get good use out of the media hype by successfully arguing that since the world was due to end at 9:30 this morning (German time) I didn't see any point in coming to work so that was why I was late :) My manager obviously has a reasonable sense of humour, especially for a German.
You are not alone
We will be there to stand along side you.
You can't cross the streams with one stream
I've been trying to get people to understand exactly this point over the last few days. The best way is to liken this to the old Ghostbusters concept of crossing the streams of a proton pack.
LHC- injects proton beams
GB - called a proton pack and creates a stream/beam
LHC- when fully active, will cause 2 proton beams to cross paths and potentially cause 'something' to happen.
GB - Crossing the streams was considered 'bad' (total protonic reversal I seem to remember??)
Today the LHC only has 1 Proton pack so it can't cause 'the end of the world'
Has anyone else managed to come up with a simple way to explain it?
(alien as no ghost)
Since when did El Reg do sanity ?
Wow - a voice of sanity squeaking from under the table.
I've been pointing this out for a while. In fact it's great fun winding up the doom mongers, they've been wetting themselves that today was the end of the world. I've been enjoying telling them that they got it totally wrong. It's not today they have to worry about, it's sometime in the coming months when, as you put it, they turn up the big knob.
Can somebody tell the BBC, Tabloids, etc that it's not today?
...cos I'm really sick of hearing them spout about it. And I'm also sick of hearing uninformed idiots at work talking like the world's going to end, or something amazing is going to happen.
And can somebody point out that the world isn't going to end either, once the collisions start happening?
All that's probably going to happen is that Cern are going to collect Petabytes of data which they won't understand for a long while, and most of which will resemble random 0s/1s until somebody actually starts to make sense of the measurements they're guessing might be the right ones to take.
Full marks for the Ghostbuster's reference, but why does El Reg insist on being so bloody cynical about absolutely everything?
I'm no physisisisisicist working on (possibly literally) ground-breaking new research (as tediously reminded to me on a daily basis as I drift in to my job) but it's nonetheless quite exciting what these bearded chaps are up to.
Or maybe it's just the thought that they might implode the very fabric of our existence and put me out of my misery.
Descriptions of science
It is descriptions of science just like this one that enticed me to become a scientist! Keep up the good work :)
"Doomsday device! Ahh the balls in Farnsworth's court now."
Full marks ...
You know, it's times like this I wish I was still in academia - I'd have killed to have been able to lever the term 'particle punisher' into my PhD thesis, especially as I studied combustion processes and not particle physics ;-)
To the lads and lasses at CERN: good luck, and let 'er rip - if you do manage to destroy the entire universe then I for one won't miss it much ...
... for bursting the bubble on some good hysteria.
You spoil sport bastards.
Bet not one of you will pull anyone up at the pub tonight when they talk about the world ending eh?
you and NewScientist who have been following this store for more than a decade since it was first conceived... :-P ;-)
What a let down
So true they are just testing the beams in one direction, not smashing them together. We will have to wait! Why the media have latched on today i don't know! We need a new date, lets say around 2012, when we are supposed to have a real doomsday.
Today is not Hadron Collider Day
Yes. It may take some more time. In the due course of time, and motivated by the strong desire to acquire more knowledge, the search towards Higg's Boson (God's particle) will be continued and a miniature scale Big-Bang may be inevitable. But, are we trying to eat the "Fruit" of the "Tree of Knowledge" as stated in the Genesis of The Bible?
At long last...
El Reg is at long last the voice of reason!
I am totally sick and tired of the media muppets on an un-named radio station (oh ok then, 'Rubber' Johnny Vaughn on Crapital) bleating on about the end of the world. The news presenter even cocked up by saying that the partcles were going to be colliding at "almost the speed of SOUND". Knob.
Perhaps the LHC could produce a Black Hole just long enough to swallow all the useless media hacks in the universe...
...someone else noticed. Brian Cox and all the other LHC boffins were quite clear that they'd only be testing one particle beam when they talked to Andrew Marr this morning, but no-one in the wouldn't-know-science-if-it-walked-up-and-bit-them BBC editorial team understood what they were being told.
I still think that someone should have yanked the TV feed as the beam was turned on though, it would have scared the shit out of the news anchors...
At long last - someone is pointing out what has been blatantly obvious to those who chose to take note of the facts... the collision isn't, nor has it ever been, planned for today so the worlds ending won't come today (well, not as a result of the LHC anyway!)
Thanks El Reg! About time someone reported facts, not hysterical fantasies.
What would Bede say?
DAMN -- this guy can flat out write! (Insert envy here!)
I can't help thinking that if the Earth does get swallowed up into a black hole, it may not necessarily be a bad thing. We humans have been trying our very best to destroy the planet for years and we seem to be nicely on-course to completing it - the LHC could save us the job! :-)
Have you a foot in the door then?
I mean, to stay updated about the cackling and foaming.... Have you a man inside? And, my question is still not anwered... Even when you had a man inside, at the moment things go wrong, how are you going to report back to us about it? Maybe it is not such a bad idea after all, to have the party today, and then go back to the rest of our lives. No matter what scientists will discover from this looking back in time, it is still not going to predict anything that will happen in our future.
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