Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Black Hand Of Dr Cern

Not a 50's B movie, but the latest Press Release from the biggest black hole on the planet, sucking up an astronomical $10 billion and ready for more, (gulp) dollars. What an appetite! Even now it's going after spare change. $10 million a month from the U.S. alone. When will it end? Is any sofa safe from the Black Hand of Dr Cern?

Of course it says it doesn't want your money. This monster Collider has some self-respect. It sends out Press Releases, like this one, all nice and cosy from September 5th, "CERN reinterates safety on eve of first beam" like on a snowy winter's eve with a baby first beam,

"A report published today . . ." it says " . . . provides comprehensive evidence that safety fears about the Large Hadron Collider are unfounded."

Comprehensive, no. Stuff not considered, lots.
Evidence, no. Theories, yes.
And which report?

Well the one the news stories based on this Press Release are trumpeting as though this was a new safety study just released. An assumption made by journalists too busy to read the CERN Press Release under a microscope. Here is what they mistakenly wrote about shortly after seeing the new CERN Press Release:

"A new report . . ."

"A new report . . ."

"A new report . . ."

"A new report . . ."

"A new report . . ."

"A new report . . ."

"a new report . . ."

Burried at the bottom is the old LHC Safety Assesment Group (LSAG) report from June, though still not identified as the subject of this Press Release. CERN's PR Machine is so good it could publish the Geneva phonebook as a safety report and it would still make headlines, No One Dead Yet, Claims CERN in a New Geneva Safety Report.

One safety study flows into another without being named and instead of four CERN physicists and one Russian who wrote the June LSAG report, it's "The report (still un-named) was prepared by a group of scientists at CERN, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences." There is no one from the University of California, Santa Barbara that contributed, no groups except the CERN group and one Russian. Yes there is a scientist from UCSB, but he contributed to a different paper, "Astronomical Implications of Hypothetical Stable TeV-Scale Black Holes" and that report was done by a group of two, the UCSB guy and a CERN scientist.

The other safety reports are not exactly numerous, only one other LSAG report from 2003, CERN's first on the subject, based on the earlier RHIC safety report for a small low power U.S. collider in reply to Dr Walter Wagner's concern that micro black holes might be produced at the Relatavistic Heavy Ion Collider in Long Island, the 2003 LSAG report now the basis of the June 2008 update, the last update, the presumed subject of the CERN Press Release.

A few words later, "The papers comprising the report . . ." What report? What papers? Why not list all these papers and reports and provide hot links? Isn't this relevant in a Press Release? Or is CERN planning to send journalists Ask CERN Virtual Crystal Balls?

The only 2008 safety report was a single 15 page document undated, with one addendum of 11 pages, the total LSAG report. There was another much thicker report by two scientists on mBH, one from CERN, that was used to buttress the mBH section of the 2008 LSAG report. Those are all the papers, all the reports on safety this year from CERN. No doubt the whole kit and caboodle was presented to the CERN Scientific Policy Committee (SPC) of 20 unnamed scientists who CERN says are independent of CERN. If they pay for parking that settles it. Five out of 20 studied in depth "the 2008 report" meaning what report exactly? OK, say it was all they had, "and endorsed the authors' approach of basing their arguments on irrefutable observational evidence . . ." in the 2 documents submitted, the LSAG 2008 report, 15 plus 11 pages, and the GM Black Holes 2008 paper of 97 pages, finally clear from a read of the 5 page "SPC Report On LSAG Documents".

All this Press Release blather about 2 documents, previously published in June, previously reviewed in an undated SPC Report, the arcane subject of an September Press Release.

Go back a bit to the 5 page SPC Report. If the Press Release is a labyrinth, who claims the straight and narrow "irrefutable observational evidence"? What "irrefutable observational evidence to conclude that new particles produced at the LHC will pose no danger." These new particles have never been observed by CERN or anyone else. There is no evidence, only theories. But the SPC Report makes it clear that they weren't observing "new particles", but "irrefutable observational data on cosmic rays and on astronomical bodies". For journalists who aren't physicists what are they supposed to think? Don't worry about "new particles", we have observational evidence? We have observed these "new particles"? We saw them yesterday?

"The full SPC unanamously agreed with their findings." But why didn't the other 15 of the full SPC 20 study "in detail" the so-called report? Are they that busy, that the safety of CERN itself and their people and Geneva, isn't worth the full particpation of even one CERN hosted committee? But they all unanimously agreed with the select five and each other, perhaps on the very fate of the planet. 20 men decide for us all. The Black Hand Of Dr Cern won't let go of this Collider. It's mine mine mine! hisses Dr Cern, but we never see his face, only the blasted black hand groping for change.

On To September 10th And The Other LHC Machine: The CERN PR Department

The First Beam injection is an important test of LHC engineering. A single low power proton beam is going to circulate through the main 17 mile ring. It's not dangerous like some critics in the media are suggesting, with over-the-top headlines, The BBC calling it "Big Bang Day" for their live radio coverage on BBC FOUR.

Ordinarily CERN would be cringing at misinformed media hype. But it also plays 2 ways. A successful first test cancels fears that the collider is dangerous. Reacting to the media hype some other media outlets are making fun of the dangers, especially in Europe, a nice PR bonus for the machine.

CERN is turning this easy September 10th test into a bigtop LHC media circus, the perfectly safe collider. Hundreds of journalists will be on site for the thrilling 1/15 of normal operating energies single beam, 1/30 of eventual combined energies. The big CERN Dome will be the real hot spot, with all the collider action in up and down and side to side near-collisions of piled high plates from the giant free all day all you can eat buffet, if CERN doesn't forget to call the caterer. Warning, journalists are a grumpy hungry lot. Don't tell them to eat at the cafeteria. They could destroy it! If all goes well at the buffet, a bonanza of headlines the next day, Surprise, It's Not the End of the World. Not even close. Take your cue from Fermilab's own same day LHC Pajama Party,

CERN's direct competion is Fermilab's Tevatron collider, steady since the start of Run II at 0.90 TeV per beam or half the LHC First Beam attempt at 0.45 TeV. Still those small numbers are in Trillion electron Volts, enough to burn down the CERN Dome, easy, its only low-tech wood, but it is the media center for the day, so watch where you point that thing.

Still in the hunt for the Higgs, the Tevatron's in a last ditch attempt to beat the LHC. Due to run through to 2010 before being scrapped thanks to a recent financial bailout, $5 million from an anonymous donor and more cash this year from the U.S. Government's deep pockets or at least some loose change behind cushions in Washington, the venerable Tevatron has an extra year or two of life.

Way back when CERN's LEP collider was looking for the Higgs in its last days of 1999-2000, before 40,000 tonnes of it was hoisted away to make way for the LHC, CERN optimized and then pushed the LEP beyond its design energies.

There was even a call to wait on demolition and press ahead with the LEP due to some tantalizing last minute results. They weren't heeded and for 8 years CERN has been in a vacuum doing no physics since then. Physicists at CERN have been understandably restless for years and now more so with the Tevatron still blazing. Another (unexpected) 'doubly strange' particle discovered a few days ago with energies higher this year and data optimized to the max,

Taking its cue from the old LEP do-or-die experiment, current Tevatron energy is 0.98022 TeV per beam, the Higgs maybe a few more GeV down the road. Let's hope the old collider can take it.

With the Higgs in Fermilab's pocket, the LHC, ostensibly built to find the mother of all particles, might be a $10 billion irony, just another lonely financial black hole. CERN would definitely disagree. I'll make it easy for them here, since they don't bother responding to my blog articles or to my letters to the LSAG about potential hazards not analyzed by LSAG reports, like bosenova implosion/explosion from quantum state helium-4, or helium-3 produced by LHC ionization of helium-4, first proposed by me in a ScientificBlogging article,
and now a part of the European Court of Human Rights suit on LHC safety; or thermonuclear fusion of this helium-3 also first proposed by me in The Science of Conundrums,

CERN absolutely disagrees with everybody out there who hasn't got a CERN badge. Of course critical internal CERN Intranet emails are taken seriously before they are bounced into the not fully tested LHC thousand tonne beam dumps, where they've been known to smoke some graphite into methane, but don't tell anyone. It's top secret!

CERN has said there is other new physics out there as do collider happy physicists everywhere, maybe extra String theory dimensions and then oops micro black holes that oops might merge into a bigger mBH that might start accreting mass at 17,000 tonnes a year that might radiate some nuclear energy that might destroy Switzerland and might go on destroying the planet until it is destroyed, or so says a physicist, Dr Rainer Plaga, whom CERN has dismissed with an admirably quick but short 2 page argument printed on 4 pages, Plaga's paper on metastable quantum black holes is only theoretical, but can we relax when CERN's counter-arguments, all its safety studies are also all based on theories?

In the final analysis, the only practical analysis, CERN's implied LHC safety rests on one point rattling around somewhere behind their theories: So far no major threats have been found in the operation of tiny colliders using low energies.

For now it's theories versus theories, smoke and mirrors, from both sides of the question: Is The LHC Safe? Later this October with a big do-or-die totally unnecessary quantum jump in energy to the first LHC 5 TeV beam, way way more powerful than any collider's on the planet, that might all change.

Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith of CERN says: "In any case, they will only send the hadrons in one direction this week. The collisions start in October. Until then, at least, we're not all doomed." Or last chance to visit Geneva or buy a Rolex. Quote from

No, not the end September 10th, of the end of the world debate, maybe equipment failure, collider damage or something more surprising. Like basic nuclear physics they don't know about or maybe dismissed at the water cooler because everyone had another meeting on parking lot passes, the next big ski-weekend or New Dimensions in String Theory. (For the demonstration, please bring your own string and sharp scissors are recommended.)

If the LHC survives, then the first 10 TeV proton collisions later this year will be something to watch on the BBC's New and Improved Big Bang Day broadcast. Add a Rock Concert from the CERN Dome, for backgound music and intercutting into the boring bits. Hey Dr Brian Cox, Rock your Collider!

Let's have this one live on TV worldwide, or maybe Google Earth can get their just launched satellite cameras callibrated in time. About 500 miles up, Google Eye should be safe. Hope the DVD Live At The Collider makes it outta there. Might be the collector's item.

For News on the current LHC prep steps leading up to September 10th,

The Media Circus Program September 10th,

Fear And Loathing At The LHC,

In Desperation CERN physicists are taking comedy improv classes at CERN. (see above link) Listen in on NPR's "Can Physicists Be Funny?"

Dr Brian Cox, your host on BBC FOUR Radio's Big Bang Day September 10th 08:30BST, time travels from the LHC, we knew it all along, back to the days of D:ream,

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