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Large Hadron Collider – Searching for Unexpected Subatomic Phenomena

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CERN's (European Organization for Nuclear Research) last Facebook update was on March 26, 2015:

“A short circuit in a superconducting dipole magnet is delaying beam injection to the LHC. Teams are working around the clock to investigate the situation and fix the issue.”

Hope everything gets resolved and things go well with the LHC restart, the highest energy particle beam ever produced on Earth. Goes splendidly, but not for the scientist hubris necessarily, so much as for the non-extinction of the universe and the human race. The CERN physicists want to push the energy so hard, elevate the heat and luminosity of the plasma soup so extremely, that unpredictable events occur.

That's the word they use. “Unpredictable.”

Do we really want to hear particle physicists say, “Wow. I didn't think THAT was going to happen. Oh noooooooooo!!!!!!!”– ????

Scientists spend a lot of time developing knowledge by finding holes or mistakes in prevailing theories. They don't want to keep re-affirming what is already known and established. They want to break it. That gives the mathematicians something to do, figure out the formula that explains the event and why it had to happen in that way and no other. It's iconoclastic and aggressive.

The CERN scientists are no different. Their stated goal is to force things to happen that current particle physics Standard Model can't explain ̶ give birth to bizarre phenomena, so quantum engineers are induced to proclaim they've never seen such odd specimens before. Supersymmetry and other theories stand ready, at least they hope so, to augment or replace Standard Model and explain the new sub-atomic shenanigans. Maybe dark matter and strangelets will be discovered by forcing them to exist and reveal their secrets.

Trace evidence of a particle that fits the theorized description of a Higgs boson was documented. Now they have to find more things, force new things to come into existence, even if for just one millionth of a second. New particles that have never existed on Earth and are only theorized to have existed right after the Big Bang, then vanished.

They can't say it is safe, what they're doing. Because they can't predict what might occur, good or bad, benevolent or catastrophic. They can't seriously and honestly proclaim there is no potential danger of forming strangelets that start devouring the universe by turning everything into strange quarky matter.

They're deliberately going to ever further extremes. Some say CERN is insufficiently prudent, perhaps even unconcerned about the potential impact their experiments (or rituals) might have on the fabric of reality, the time-space continuum we all know and have come to feel comfortable with, especially the TV shows and restaurants.

Worst case scenario? All we can do is guess. When we make things happen that have no theoretical framework, anybody's imaginative supposition is as pretty much just as good as anybody else's. No particle physicists working on particle collisions and new particle detection can proclaim in response to your concern, "That's nonsense. That couldn't happen"

For the breakfast table philosophers out there, that means that a severe cataclysmic mishap could take place and there won't be anybody around to try to renormalize (quantum electrodynamics term for making sense of infinite integrals in perturbation theory, treating infinities arising in calculated quantities) or argue about it.

Flip the false vacuum that contains the universe into a true vacuum? Spawn strangelets bouncing in and out of the 11th dimension? Black hole gangs proliferating into the galaxies and eating them all instantaneously? A quench with sad consequences? A new universe, with strange undreamt of laws, then created, a universe without golf or political parties?

"What happens when the mass of the black hole eventually becomes extremely small is not quite clear, but the most reasonable guess is that it would disappear completely in a tremendous final burst of emission, equivalent to the explosion of millions of H-bombs.” – Dr. Stephen Hawking

One of the things scientists will be looking for is evidence of supersymmetry or SUSY – a theory that predicts that every fundamental particle has a “superpartner.”

LHC is entering a new regime with an increased luminosity and center of mass energy from 8 to 13 TeV. LHC experiments are entering a new and challenging era in the exploration of the elementary world.

Besides LHC and the High Luminosity LHC project, CERN is gathering the development of novel projects on the beyond-LHC machines (FCC, CLIC), the future Neutrino worldwide facilities, and a number of R&D projects.

Particle beam accelerators, stargates, new forms of mysterious matter, particles approaching the speed of light, time travel, portals to other dimensions and alternate universes – this is the stuff of prophetic science fiction, folks.

It's bad enough that the micro-cosmos is made up of leptons, fermions, bosons, muons, gluons, mesons, hyperons, and kaons. And how do you like those rascals the quarks? – charm quarks, strange quarks, up quarks, down quarks, top quarks, bottom quarks. Plus strangelets, WIMPs, and tau neutrinos. And after the known stuff comes the unknown but mathematically predicted “dark matter” and “dark energy.”

There's more: certain particles are transient. They decay, vanish, are “annihilated.”

What do particle physicists mean by some stuff (virtual quark-anti quark pairs inside the nucleons) going in and out of existence? When a particle is removed from existing, did it truly vanish into nothing, or did it go into some other dimension? Could science make a device to pry open and tamper with these other dimensions and non-existences?

CERN's Large Hadron Collider – could it destroy Earth or the entire Universe? Is anybody misanthropic enough to do such a thing for kicks? Sound like a crazy paranoid conspiracy theory? You should get familiar with the weird science of strangelets, quarks, and plasma soups.

Quantum tunneling, for instance. How strange that a particle can suddenly vanish, and appear on the other side of a barrier, without passing through the barrier. That's scientific fact.

Non-locality, also described as "spooky action at a distance," but limited by the uncertainty principle.

What if you could tamper with the fabric of existence, the ground of reality, the space-time continuum itself? Many think this is the new big thing in science. Imagine how proud and powerful a scientist would feel if he could actually mess with the entire universe!

Is the CERN goal to spark a New Big Bang that would erase the current cosmos and replace it with a new one? Do they hope to float around as spirits in this "new heaven and earth" they created, or have a book written about them, albeit in the 11th dimension? Is this New Big Bang a hoped-for negation of, or rival to, the New Jerusalem mentioned in the Book of Revelation?

CERN itself gives a rather hazy, evasive answer to "Why kick the energy up so high?"

“The decision to begin the LHC’s second run at 13 TeV has been taken in order to optimise the delivery of particle collisions for physics research, and thereby speed the route to potential new physics.

It is based on the properties of the 1232 superconducting dipole magnets that guide the beams around the LHC’s 27-kilometre ring.

The higher the beam energy, the higher the magnetic field needed to maintain a constant orbit, and the higher the electric current flowing in the magnet’s superconducting coils.

...the best way to get to new results quickly, at an energy considerably higher than ever achieved before, is to start operation at 13 TeV.”

Stephen Hawking has expressed concerns about increasing the energy blasts, based on the concept of the universe existing within a false or "meta-stable" vacuum that is vulnerable to switching to a "true vacuum."

When CERN announced it found evidence of what fits the theory of a Higgs boson (and thus a Higgs field, which gives mass to particles), Hawking made a cautionary remark: "The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100 [billion] gigaelectronvolts (GeV). This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn't see it coming."

This is what physicists have been toying with since they learned how to split the atom for a nuclear explosion. A lot has been accomplished since scientists starting messing with reality at an incredibly small scale for incredibly large results.

"The LHC will thus deliver more particles per unit time, as well as more collisions, to the experiments. To prepare for the challenges of more collisions, the LHC experiments, including ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb, underwent full consolidation and maintenance programmes, including upgrades to their subdetectors and data-acquisition systems."

Are the high energy beam dumps really confined to giant blocks of graphite encased in thick steel? Or are weird forms of energy being driven to the Earth's core, potentially disrupting the planetary electrical field?

We'll have to wait for the highly anticipated “unexpected” to occur and let the CERN scientists assure us that science has gained new insights, nothing will be weaponized, and everything is fine. After all, they gave us the web and we like that a lot, right?


About the Author
Steven Streight is a man of many skills. He’s a talented writer, web content developer, internet marketing consultant and photographer. He’s a trustee on the Peoria Historical Society, a member of SCORE Peoria and the author of the Peoria technology history book, “Bicycle Fever.” In his downtime, he’s hangs out with his beloved Min Pin and tries to get some rest. Considering how involved he is in the community, it sounds like he could use as much as he can get.