back to article Large Hadron Timewaster

The CERNocrats have decided it will be another few months before they can restart the world's biggest scientific money-smashing machine, the Large Hadron Collider. The 17-mile underground money pit on the Swiss-French frontier will restart in September with a few Hadrons colliding in October, after which a Christmas shutdown …

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Anonymous Coward

anything they find

anything they find will be more worthwhile then anything you have achieved - be happy in that knowledge.

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Stop

Is it run by plumbers?

I'm waiting for the "You bought one of these mate? I doubt I can get the parts these days. Tell you what, why don't I install a new one for you? I've got one in the back of my van which can be yours for £8bn. Cash only, mind"

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Unhappy

Wrong side of the smasher this morning?

Blimey - that's a bit overwhelmingly negative, isn't it? Surely we're better spending the money on this - something that *could* reveal something genuinely interesting about the world we find ourselves in - rather than say... ooh... biometric ID cards?

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What?

Why don't you just fuck off and live in a cave, with no computer and no electricity, not wear any synthetic fibres, not use any medicines and shit in a hole in the ground?

If you're prepared to put up with the benefits of Science, you can put up with the costs. £4 billion is peanuts compared to what the USA spends on [insert frivolous crap here] each year

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Dead Vulture

FAIL

"It seems that, like fractals, which are infinitely complex at whatever scale they are examined, there will always be smaller bits of atoms inside the current smallest bits you are looking at. All you need is an ever-bigger hammer to deconstruct them and the LHS is just a waystation on the path to the ELHC (Even Larger Hadron Collider)."

That's what happens when you have pundits who should first consult a physics manual before pulling out an article about "waste" out of their nether regions. Planck length. Look it up.

And of course there will never be a larger hadron collider. Because you want to get clean collisions when going to higher energies, so back to leptons it will be.

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Anonymous Coward

They'd better get a move on

At this rate tectonic movement will squeeze the Alps some more and push the whole thing out of alignment before they run any real experiments.

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Give up

Yeah, you're probably right. When was anything worth doing achieved by persevering after a setback?

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So nothing negative in this report at all?

Journalism, while not the most reliable sources of news, should at least have the semblance of unbiased fact rather than a personal vendetta.

Chris, it is plainly obvious that you have nothing but disdain for what potentially could be the most important event in Human history.

I'm not denying that it could also possibly be nothing more than a very expensive failed experiment, but without such things, advances cannot happen.

So rather than calling it a 'timewaster'. why not try objective journalistic reporting. It might even make you a happier person.

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ToddRundgren

The reason the LHC was "switched" on last year, was because the consortia's politicians said it had to be. Being switched on and being switched on at full power are (forgive the pun), light years apart. Another interseting fact is that, (due to time constraints to hit the autumn switch-on), CERN only tested 1/10 of the magnets, which are needed to keep the beam away from the pipelines wall. That's professional isn't it?

My guess therefore is by October 2009, + 6 months they might have ignition at full power and be able to do some useful stuff.

Why tell the truth in the first place.

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Think of it as an employment scheme

Graduate physicists are quite cheap; a lot of the money has gone on buying airfares and PCs. Even if they don't find anything much, it's better value for money (and a general economic boost) than hosing cash at banks, say.

Of course, I'd rather the money had been spent on <b>my</b> airfares and PCs, but research in IT security is never as sexy as finding out "fundamental secrets of the universe".

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Oh sure

Oh sure, the LHC may help physicist gain a greater understanding of this magnificent and massively complex system, we call the universe. Sure they may even discover some answers to the fundamental questions; when? where? how? (and possibly even) why? Sure, such deep curiosity is probably the greatest thing we humans can claim as truly _ours_; extension of natural mammal inquisitiveness it may be, we've managed to make it an art. But...

Will it help me pay for my fuel bills, rent, grumble-mag subscription fees, pop-tarts etc?

Sigh... time to get back to work, huddled over my desk, bashing the keys with my palms. Look how far we've come.

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Better ways to spend billions?

Yes, there are many.

Still, there maybe benefits to the whole of humanity arising from this project. Where as spending billions bailing out banks so they can continue dishing out obscene bonuses to high level bank staff whilst ripping of customers with ridiculous charges generally benefits a handful bankers.

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Dead Vulture

missing something here...

LHC... isn't that at CERN?

And didn't they invent the web?

As a BYPRODUCT of their core research?

But you're probably right. Money down the drain.

Idiot.

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Birth of a new 21st century science

Hadroncollidology - the study and prediction of hadron colliders.

So far it has been established the little beggars have voracious appetites, but apparently excrete very little of interest. Speculation is rife that ingested matter simply disappears down a black hole. Inter-disciplinary studies should be promoted, which might indicate cognitive resonance with black holography, and genetic connections with us-urology.

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

I believe (can't find a reference) P M S Blackett said "we've run out of money so we'll have to think". Might not be a bad thing if they do run out of money?

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@ A J Stiles

<mode=incredulous> "the benefits of Science"????</mode>

Exaclty how does this promise to benefit anyone but a bunch of daft Physisists who can't make themselves understood in a room full of normal people and who spend all their lives underground in Switzerland because they can't get girls? "Why don't we go back to my place: I've some pretty revolutionary equations of state that you might find illuminating".

I never saw such an example of compensating in my life (cries of "Ooh, you should see the size of *my* Hadron Collider, ducks" echo in the background).

Pertinent question: Where's my effing flying car, and how much sooner will I get one if this bloody magnet from hell is switched to maximum revs?

Bah.

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Boffin

I wonder what you would be saying

if they wanted to spend billions on studying NOTHING. Vacuum is very interesting if you know how to look at it closely. I would back such schemes, but then I never had much truck with beancounter attitudes.

Anyway, it beats spending money on Euro/Joint Strike/Insert favourite here/ fighters or aircraft carriers that do not seem to be fit for the wars we fight now (that should get people going).

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lol

While the article was arguably a bit negative, the overwhelming religious response in the comments is a hilarious illustration of the response to questions Thou Shalt Not Ask.

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Happy

Was this article written by Quentin Crisp?

Apparently he said "if at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style".

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Right!

I mean, after all, if noone had ever done costly fundamental research, things would be pretty much the same.

Oh, no, wait, my mistake - if we never spent any money, and occasionally craploads of money, on fundamental research, we'd be pretty much stuck at the Industrial Revolution.

Well, at least we can get pissed because they keep missing deadlines, right? I mean, it's not as if there's any reason for cutting-edge technology that requires sub-micron precision on a kilometer scale not to work at the first attempt.

Oh, damn, sorry, wrong again - given the sheer number of components, even with a rather small chance of individual failure, it'd have been a bloody miracle if the LHC had worked on the first try.

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Stop

Why is this author posing, er, posting in Physics??

If an "author" can't even describe a hadron as anything other than "bits of atoms", then perhaps his/her grasp of the physics at stake really isn't compelling enough to be a source of public record - or even an informed opinion shouted from an electronic soapbox.

For the record, we need the LHC because we KNOW that our best current theories of quantum physics are at least a leeeetle wrong, and/or a leeeetle incomplete. Sure would be nice to actually FIND evidence of a Higgs bosun to explain where mass comes from, rather than just postulating it and hoping the maths work (they do SO far...). The US Superconducting Supercollider would have settled things even better, but given it's departure from this universe (funding-wise), the LHC is the closest we are going to get to enough energies to fill in some gaps we have in our quantum physical models, and make any corrections needed. And explain dark matter, dark energy, quark interactions at a distance, and a perhaps a host of other things that are currently bothering us that don't really make a lot of sense or can't be proven.

Perhaps more important, considering the WWW itself is an offshoot of CERN technology development, having El Reg criticize the cost of it's development is rather funny...without the WWW, most of your authors would be waiting tables or actually having to write code or something tedious...

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Dead Vulture

Hmm

A dig at physics research spending on an IT site?

You're preaching to the wrong crowd, mate. Try the Daily Fail.

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Dead Vulture

Science? Progress?

Why bother? Sounds expensive, and it might take a few months longer than pen-pushers and bean-counters feel is 'reasonable'.

Wait a sec, I'll come back to this later once I have lit a fire - it's cold here and all I have to light it are two rocks to bash together.

/sigh

Poor.

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The culture of aggressive ignorance.

>"Physicists say they are on a noble quest to understand the fundamental structure of matter - but does it matter?"

Yes, it does, you ignorant barbarian. And it will undoubtedly lead to practical applications as a spinoff down the line. Case in point: our entire fucking industry exists because of the theoretical research done into quantum mechanics by the guys with the first generation of cyclotrons. So yes it pays your bleedin' bills, even if that's the limit of your short-sighted horizon owing to your utter lack of aspiration for the higher achievements of which humanity is capable.

Just because you don't understand something doesn't make it worthless. You're showing the same attitude of wilful anti-intellectual know-nothingism as the creationists and fundies and other anti-science zealots, and psychologically it's nothing more than your own inferiority complex writ large: you don't understand it, can't see what it's for, yet you are unable to admit that this is merely a consequence of your own ignorance of what is after all a highly technical subject, preferring to believe that instead it must be worthless because you do not even acknowledge the possibility of there being things beyond your understanding. Well, you're just going to have to grow up and face the facts: you don't know everything, some people know more than you about some things, and you don't have any "right" to automatically be correct in your every whimsical and uninformed opinion.

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Dead Vulture

Oh dear...

Why such a negative article in a website dedicated to science and technology? This feels like it's been lifted out an ignoramous paper like the Sun or Daily Sport...

The LHC will bring us that much closer to understanding the 80-90% of the universe we appear to be missing. I think that's worth more than the NPfIT, don't you?

Also - I would like the editorial team to seriously consider this reporters position and his suitability for the job as it appears to me to be terrible.

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Does it matter?

No, of course not. Let's just all give up on science because, obviously, playing video games or surfing the web is just more fun and important than learning stuff about how the world works.

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BE thankful

It was at CERN that the WWW was created - that medium that you are using now to spread your own personal vendetta.

Faraday asked "What use is an unborn child?" This research has no immediate use. It's what it may grow into that is excitiing. Maybe a way of cold fusion? Maybe showing how to make submoleculer structures to store higher data densities? Perhaps a tigher noninvasive imaging beam or maybe advanced radiotherpy beams.

Who knows. You certainly don't and neither do the scientists doing the research but that's *why*.

Flammable symbol because there isnt an acid one for your vitriol.

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Is it just me, or....

Does the whole idea of a collider seem akin to studying biology by hitting frogs with a sledgehammer?

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Coat

>Think of it as an employment scheme

Actually it's more a money laundering scheme.

Your country gets contracts pro-rated on your contribution. But there are only a few companies able to actually build this kit, so BAe bid for the UK's portion of the magnets - sub contract the job while keeping a percentage.

Some proprtion of the money actually gets spent on research but most of it is back-handers to the biggest employers in each country's marginal constituencies. Still it's cheaper than building eurofighters.

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Happy

Exactly what are the news?

To summarize article facts:

1- LHC is delayed

2- LHC costs a lot of money

3- We don't know if LHC will provide any results useful in real life.

Exactly what is the difference between the LHC and other science projects? Perhaps is that it's finances are open and inspectable? Apart from the author obvious traumas related to things that collision at high speed when spinned in a large circular tunnel, I cannot see any difference.

The key point to remember is that most of those huge projects have perhaps not ever derived any direct benefits by themselves, but the technologies developed for them often have. Does anyone have a single example of a direct benefit of having a man put its feet on the moon? Noone. Right, but the technologies developed for achieving that stupid goal changed our lives a great deal. LHC is in the same category.

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Anonymous Coward

LOL

Flames meet author, author meet lot and lots of flames.

I bet you are suprised by how many people think your article sucks.

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Anonymous Coward

@Stevie

I suspect it has something to them being far smarter than you that you jump up and down like a 2 year old yes?

Get back with the rest of the idiots, saddly there are too many people like you and the author, if it had been up to the likes of you the trains would never have gone past 30 miles an hour for fear of people being crushed to death by the huge pressures put on bodies at such huge speeds.

Or we'd still believe that it was bad smells that made us sick.

Or that there were monsters in the sea and if you went too far you'd fall off.

Dicks, all of you.

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@Stevie

RE: "Exaclty how does this promise to benefit anyone but a bunch of daft Physisists who can't make themselves understood in a room full of normal people and who spend all their lives underground in Switzerland because they can't get girls?"

Yeah an understanding of Physics and subatomic particles has NEVER benefitted anyone has it?

It may be that we cannot see the outcome right now. It may even prove to be that there IS no usefull info to be extracted from the LHC, and it's a giant flop. But without doing this experiment, we will not know.

What if the result of this research is a cheap, safe, sustainable source of power? Will it still be a waste of time then?

Even if all the LHC does is rovide more data, to be used by the next generation of scientists, to design more experiments, IMHO it is still worthwhile. Advancing our understanding of the universe is a worthwhile goal on its own, even if there are no immediate, tangible benefits.

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Happy

It's all the BBC's fault

If they hadn't spent a month trying to convince the world that the start date was last summer, no-one would be surprised or particularly concerned that a twenty year project has slipped a few months.

Oh, and Faraday was once asked what was the value of his research into electricity and magnetism. He replied, "Who knows, prime minister? Perhaps one day you'll be able to tax it." And for something closer to home, the transistor was predicted using some daft mathematical bollocks called quantum mechanics in the late 30s, but not actually built in the lab until the late 40s. Still think abstract physics research is useless? Well switch off your computer and crawl back home to your hovel, heated and lit by a wood fire, you miserable troglodyte.

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Stop

Fractals

"It seems that, like fractals, which are infinitely complex at whatever scale they are examined, "

Fractals are not infinitely complex, by definition they repeat themselves. Some fractals are not complex at all, consisting of nothing more than a few lines or a small spattering of "dust". The Mandelbrot set is infinite, but it is technically not a fractal (according to Benoit).

I know that you were trying really hard to sound intelligent in your article, but you have failed miserably. Please crawl back under whatever rock you call home, and ODFO.

Where the hell is Lester? Why has he been replaced with an amateur?

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research not worth it

I suppose we shouldn't be "wasting" lots of cash in Nuclear Fusion either - nothing wrong with burning the inexaustible supplies of fossil fuels... oh wait... just maybe the potential rewards to the entire planet let alone the entire human race might actually benefit in some way that can't be measured in mere $'s.

Fuck off back under your prehistoric rock you total fucktard.

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A better answer

Robert Wilson, a leading American expert on accelerator design, had a better argument when he gave evidence before a Senate Committee. What, he was asked, would this expensive project do for the defence of the United States? 'Nothing', was the reply, 'but it will make the United States worth defending’.

Eurekas & Euphorias - The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes

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It's dead. Kill it.

At the very least they should be firing people.

They switch it on. It breaks immediately. They try to fix it. Something else breaks. Now *a year later* having achieved nothing but eat money they 'might' be thinking of switching it on again.

I don't believe it for a minute. The thing is so damned fragile it'll probably immediately break again, and eventually people will realize that throwing money at this isn't doing anything but getting a bunch of people quite rich.

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Boffin

Parsing the name

It's not the hadron collider that is large, it's a collider for large hadrons.

@ Stevie: CERN provides a whole lot of computer research, in addition to their physics, due to the very large amounts of data they have to shuffle around and then analyse.

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Priorities

ID Cards: £4.7bn so far

LHC: £4bn so far

I know which I'd rather see money spent on.

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Coat

@ Stevie

We don't know right now exactly how the lessons learned from the LHC experiment will benefit society at large. That's why it's called an experiment. However, you can be sure that *something* will come of it. (Spray paint for blocking mobile phone signals, maybe?)

Anyway, you'll regret the day you asked for your flying car when you're stuck in a 3-D traffic jam.

Mine's the one that fastens with Velcro, a byproduct of the Apollo missions.

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Go

money wont matter (intended pun) :O)

we might not need any money after the first time they boot this baby up for real lol, looking for 'god' particles ??? 'mini big bang' ??? WTFs a mini big bang, either its a BIG bang or it isnt innit ???

should be mighty interesting if theres anything left after the first (and only ??) run lol, this delay has allowed me to complete my very very very deep bunker in a disused coal mine in the uk, probably a waste of time, but heh, ya gotta look on the bright side and keep a stiff upper lip dont ya think ?? :O)

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Costs of things for a comparison

Refurbishing MoD offices - 1.5bn pounds

Widening the M1 - 1.9bn pounds

Replacing trident - 25bn pounds

World expenditure on cosmetics - 33bn dollars per year

Naked short selling and poor banking regulation - 1000's of bn's of dollars

World arms expenditure - 1200bn dollars per year

Iraq war - 2000-3000bn dollars and rising

Poorly informed journalism - priceless

Yes the LHC takes a long time and a lot of money, but at least it is useful to society. Look around you, practically every non-living thing that is there is a result of science and engineering. A little appreciation would go a long way.

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Dead Vulture

where do i start ?

bloody hell mate, have a rant why don't you? if everyone had this attitude we'd all be crawling around naked in the mud going 'ugh' and wondering what the big shiny things in the sky were. It's research into fundamental physics that made your computer possible, you know ...

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@ Destroy All Monsters

Everyone knows it's not Planck length, it's Planck thickness. Look it up.

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Anonymous Coward

Suggestion for the Register

I notice that at the top of the article there is a link that says "Get more from this author" , perhaps there could also be one that says "Get less from this author".

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Jim
Coat

After all this debate...

...and not one mention of the "negative strangelet."

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Pandora's box

What an enjoyable set of angry, cross, bemused, and ironic comments have come from the story. Yes it was not precise enough about fractals and hadrons and bosons and mesons and, yes, thank you CERN for the WWW which is priceless compared to the US space program's non-stick frying pan spin-off, but, well, it's almost as if fundamental physics research is a religion and shall not be questioned. Why ever not? How much does a research experiment in fundamental physics have to cost before it should be stopped?

Chris.

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Richard Posted Tuesday 10th February 2009 14:40 GMT

Look how far you HAVE dome. You CAN have pop-tarts. And instead of eating the local fauna after running the little bastards down and killing them with your stick, you can make a living typing in a room without predators eating your ringpiece. And then BUY pop tarts to keep that ringpeice from getting too close to the seat.

And Chris, if you are going to be an arsehole, how com YOU get paid for it??? Fuckwit El Reg team.

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Dead Vulture

Quenching always happens

If you knew a little about particle accelerators, you would know that magnets always need quenching when they are first turned on. And the next time they turn the LHC on there will be magnets needing quenching too. I imagine that they are spending this time checking every cable, solder joint, junction and weld on the damn thing so the failures won't be so catastrophic, but there _will_ be failures.

I apologise If I sound fanatical but I have little time for idiots. If a certain set of idiots in America hadn't cancelled that accelerator in Texas we might know more about

a) Hadrons.

b) Failure modes in large particle accelerators.

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