Saturday, May 31, 2008

General science for now (with an english twist!)

In this blog, for now, I think I'll just write about some things I find in the general scientific community (I'm not concerned right now; Phoenix is still fairly fresh and the LHC is around the corner). For now, I've got a presentation here that I wrote for my English class exam presentation. I never got around to editing it thoroughly, I did most of that on the stand. However, I was pleased with this speech not necessarily for its quality but for the topic. I had to relate a symbol from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle to something in the real world, and it took me a while to find something suitable and that I thought was original enough. It turned out that most people did dictators, land disputes, or feminism (I don't have anything against these topics and find them important to cover thoroughly, but in a class of around 25 people each of these got around 5-7 people). The moment it fully hit me that no one did something that was remotely related to science, I had to stifle a laugh (lest I lose gratuitous amounts of marks for interrupting and seemingly making fun of someone). The science in this only has a few sources behind it, and the science itself is deeply theoretical, but I'm silently begging my teacher to shower me with marks not for thinking outside the box, but stepping outside, getting miserably lost, and then running in random directions for a while before making camp somewhere no one's ever heard of a polygon with four equal sides and 90 degree angles.


Ice-Nine and the General Forge and Foundry Company
Related to Strange Matter and CERN

Samuel Dupuis

Hello, for all those here who don't know my name it's Samuel Dupuis, and I'll be exploring a spontaneous connection between the ice-nine of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle and strange matter that could be produced at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). I'll also go into differences between the organization CERN and the fictional General Forge and Foundry from the novel. First, however, I'll give a brief overview of what I've found about CERN, the LHC and strange matter.
CERN is an international organization for the pure research of fundamental physics comprised mainly of European countries, with some other countries and organizations having privileges as observers of all activities. The aim of CERN is only that of plumbing the mysteries of fundamental physics. CERN was established in 1954 as a revival of European science post-WWII. Two Nobel prizes have been won by employees of CERN with inventions in observation at such small scales, and explaining the weak interaction, responsible for radioactive decay. Their current project, hoped to break such new ground in our understanding of the universe, is the LHC. Thousands of scientists representing numerous other nations, universities, and other organizations have worked on the various LHC detector components and the LHC itself.
Today, there are people who think that the experiments at the LHC are capable of destroying the Earth. There are two of these speculated kinds of disasters: micro black holes and strangelets, or strange matter. Micro black holes aren’t as relevant here, but have also been dismissed by CERN as not being a threat (the black hole would disintegrate). Strange matter, however, bears eerie resemblance in its potential to ice-nine. Strange matter, for this presentation, is another type of basic matter. It's thought that once it’s produced it will remain stable enough to interact with regular matter and introduce strange stability. Strangeness would propagate throughout all nearby regular matter, i.e. the Earth. This is somewhat less forgiving than the total water freeze of Vonnegut's imagination, because it would turn absolutely everything into strange matter without two notable elements: a storm, and survivors.
This ideology isn't home to many members, at least on the Internet. The scientist’s counter looks at a few other points. First, strange matter is still theoretical, and the circumstances could be missed anyway. Next, strange matter would be charged as regular matter: Positively, making them repel. Finally, strange matter would be very unstable in small amounts. While busy getting repelled by normal matter, it would just decay back into energy and regular matter. They're also fairly sure cosmic rays have satisfied these conditions countless times, and thus creating the matter if it does exist. Considering the universe is still here, they're sure strange matter won't be problematic.
Ice-nine was known to be dangerous by Felix Hoenikker, and no one ever denied its potential. Strange matter diverges here in that it's thought by most scientists that the situation is safe. Nobody ever asked for the creation of strangelets either; they may just show up in the pursuit of knowledge. If they wind up ending life on Earth and its previous state of existence, it would be the fault of the scientific masses and not of a few individuals. CERN as a whole is aware of the project, representing tons of awareness, whereas the General Forge and Foundry didn't really know about ice-nine, mostly because it was hidden from everyone.
CERN and General Forge and Foundry aren't very similar overall, but their goals are still the same: knowledge of the universe, and not with the coercion of business. They're both large groups of scientists racking their brains in the search for scientific truth. They also both seem to garner mixed reviews from the public. GFF’s scientific values are attacked by Vonnegut himself, but in that universe the people who work for the scientists seem to like them. CERN has drawn fire for the danger some people are convinced exists, but has been honored with prizes and widespread interest on an international level, as many non-member states may still take part. They diverge when CERN becomes larger, has many resources with it, and needs them to achieve results. GFF is based in a single country and is home to a scientist who could break new ground in physics with things you would find at a dollar store. Neither is very thoroughly understood by much of the public, and many people wouldn’t know of them at all, letting them usually carry on without strong media harassment.
It’s by chance that this connection, from fiction to fact, occurred, making it a greater observation and not something forged by either side. If Kurt Vonnegut had written this in the time they had some basic ideas for the LHC going around, he might have made some changes. The important difference here is that strange matter destruction may be continuing on unfounded fear, where as ice-nine didn't get the respect it deserved when it was proven to be dangerous. At the end of these experiments we may just look back upon ice-nine, laugh, and remember that history and the universe aren’t understood vaguely with slight analysis; without a good look, they just aren’t understood at all. This may mean that we shouldn’t get stuck old fears, and that science won’t bite for looking. It could also lead to the ‘weapon potential’ scenario from The Physicists itself, by Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt. It’s the word of most physicists versus a smaller group and some of the concerned public, and both have been right in history. I’ve still come to think that the LHC is still based on sounder science, and that maybe it’s time to let go of some of our older fear, and forge ahead with our mistakes always in mind.


Anonymous said...

Playing God!
Nobel Prize hungry Physicists are racing each other and stopping at nothing to try to find the supposed 'Higgs Boson'(aka 'God') Particle, among others, and are risking nothing less than the annihilation of the Earth and all Life in endless experiments to try to solve theoretical problems when urgent real problems face the planet. The European Organization for Nuclear Research(CERN) new Large Hadron Collider(LHC) is the world's most powerful atom smasher that will soon be firing subatomic particles at each other at nearly the speed of light to create Miniature Big Bangs producing clouds of Micro Black Holes, Strangelets and other potentially cataclysmic phenomena as described below.
The CERN-LHC website Mainpage itself states quote: "There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions,..." This stunning admission is because they truly don't know what's going to happen. They are experimenting with forces they don't understand to obtain results they can't comprehend. If you think like most people do that 'They must know what they're doing.' you could not be more wrong. The second part of the quote reads "...but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator,..." A molecularly changed or Black Hole consumed Lifeless World? The end of the quote reads "as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe." These experiments to date have so far produced infinitely more questions than answers but there isn't a particle experimentalist physicist alive who wouldn't gladly trade his life to glimpse the "God particle", and sacrifice the rest of us with him.
This quote from Nation Geographic exactly sums this "science" up: "That's the essence of experimental particle physics: You smash stuff together and see what other stuff comes out."
For more information visit;
Popular Mechanics - "World's Biggest Science Project Aims to Unlock 'God Particle'" -"

JTankers said...

Quote: "I’ve still come to think that the LHC is still based on sounder science, and that maybe it’s time to let go of some of our older fear, and forge ahead with our mistakes always in mind."

You might feel differently after reading the Internal Article of the day at:, "Culture of Superiority?" about cultural differences that might be an impediment to analysis and communication of risks...

Did you know:

The LHC Safety Assessment Group (LSAG) agreed with us that if cosmic rays produce micro black holes, they will be relativistic and travel too fast to be captured by Earth's gravity, whereas if LHC head-on particle collisions produces micro black holes they will be non-relativistic with some that can be captured gravitationally, either by the Earth, or by the Sun.

LSAG is also not assuming Hawking Radiation is valid in their new safety study.

Have you heard these quotes:

“ …after 50 months the earth to a centimeter would have shrunk. It would be nothing more there, not only no more life, there but also the earth would be… a small black hole.
-Prof. Dr. Otto E. Rossler

“ … the scientists are fully aware that it is not a project without a grave risk to the life of the Earth.”
-Dr. Raj Baldev