by Lewis Page
November 6, 2009
boffin at the Large Hadron
says that the titanic machine may possibly create or discover
previously unimagined scientific phenomena, or "unknown unknowns" -
for instance "an extra dimension".
"Out of this door might come
something, or we might send something through it," said
Sergio Bertolucci, who is Director for Research and
Scientific Computing at CERN, briefing reporters including
the Reg at CERN HQ earlier this week.
The LHC, built inside a 27-km circular
subterranean tunnel deep beneath the Franco-Swiss border outside
Geneva, functions like a sort of orbital motorway for extremely
high-speed hadrons - typically either protons or lead ions.
The differences are, firstly, that the streams of particles are
moving at velocities within a whisker of light speed - such that
each stream has as much energy in it as a normal car going at
1000mph. Secondly, the beams are arranged in such fashion that the
two streams swerve through one another occasionally, which naturally
results in huge numbers of incredibly violent head-on collisions.
These collisions are sufficiently violent that they are expected to
briefly create conditions similar to those obtaining countless eons
ago, not long after the Big Bang, when the entire universe was still
inconceivably small - it was smaller than a proton for quite some
time, seemingly, still with all the stuff that nowadays makes up all
the supra-enormity of space and galaxies and so forth packed in
Naturally, some extremely strange phenomena are to be expected when
one mangles the very fabric of space-time itself in this fashion.
Various eccentric nutballs have claimed
that this would doom humanity in one fashion or another; perhaps
converting the entire Earth, everything on it and possibly the rest
of the universe too into "strangelet soup", monopole mulligatawny or
some other sort of frightful sub-particulate blancmange or custard.
It has also been suggested that cack-handed boffins at the
LHC might inadvertently call into being a miniature black hole and
carelessly drop this into the centre of the Earth, rather
irritatingly causing the planet to implode. It's certainly to be
hoped that the button marked "Call Black Hole Into Being" on the
control board has some kind of flip-down cover over it.
Obviously all that's utter rubbish. But some boffins have
black holes might alternatively act
as spacewarp wormhole portals into alternate universes, or
This would seem to chime with
Bertolucci's remarks this week on
hyperdimensional "doors" out of
which might come unspecified "somethings".
So what have
Dinosaurs? Demonic soul-reapers? Parallel globo-Nazis?
Hyperspherical juggernaut-beings? Come on...
Anyone who has watched a TV, read any sci-fi or seen any movies will
be well aware that hyperdimensional spacewarp wormhole portals
don't normally lead to anything boring like empty space, parallel
civilizations where humanity lives in peace and harmony or anything
Rather, it seems a racing cert that we're looking here at an
imminent visit from a race of carnivorous dinosaur-men, the
superhuman clone hive-legions of some evil genetic queen-empress,
infinite polypantheons of dark nega-deities imprisoned for eons and
hungering to feast upon human souls, a parallel-history victorious
Nazi globo-Reich or something of that type...
We took the matter up with Dr Mike Lamont, a control-room
boffin at the LHC.
"We're hoping to see super-symmetry
and extra dimensions," he confirmed.
Pressed on the matter of doors through
which something might come, as hinted at by Bertolucci, Lamont
rather elliptically said "well, he's a theorist", before
recommending the book
Warped Passages by physicist
This explores ways in which
extra-dimensional space and entities might interact with our own.
It uses among others the example of how
a sphere moving in 3D space would appear to someone living on a
single 2D plane-space - that is as a mysterious circle suddenly
blossoming into existence, growing, perhaps moving about and then
shrinking down and vanishing again.
"There's no maths in it," added
Lamont encouragingly, having assessed the intellectual level of
the Regular news team with disconcerting percipience.
Summarizing, then, it appears that we
might be in for some kind of invasion by spontaneously swelling
and shrinking spherical or wheel-shaped creatures - something on
the order of the huge rumbling stone ball from Indiana Jones - able
to move in and out of our plane at will.
Soon the cities of humanity will lie in
smoking ruins, shattered by the Attack of the Teleporting
Juggernaut-tyrants from the Nth Dimension.
Dr Bertolucci later got in touch to confirm that yes indeed,
there would be an "open door", but that even with the power of the
LHC at his disposal he would only be able to hold it open,
"a very tiny lapse of time, 10-26
seconds, [but] during that infinitesimal amount of time we would
be able to peer into this open door, either by getting something
out of it or sending something into it."
"Of course," adds Bertolucci, "after
this tiny moment the door would again shut, bringing us back to
our 'normal' four dimensional world... It would be a major leap
in our vision of Nature, although of no practical use
(for the time being, at least). And of course [there would be]
no risk to the stability of our world."
We say: Excellent.
Who said the LHC was a waste of money?