Saturday, April 03, 2010

Proud Geek Mom

This week as I was coming home from working, Mackenzie came bounding out of the house to greet me with a big smile. I knew something momentous had happened that he was just busting to tell me about and sure enough he came out with it just as I climbed out of the car...

"Mom, they fired up the Large Hadron Collider today! And it didn't even create an earth-swallowing black hole!"

Yeah, that's my boy :)

The quote I like best from the live coverage of the collider was this one:

11.28am: Hilarious. A Cern physicist has just been talking about creating black holes. He worked out that to make a black hole, you need to compress 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 protons into the space of a billionth of a millionth of a millimetre. That number of protons would make up three times the population of Geneva. Apparently.
This from Brian Cox on Twitter:
"If anyone else says "black hole" today I'm going to come round and chin em".

Although there's lots of great sci-geek info tucked into the commentary, like this:

"What would the effect on living tissue (other than the assumed cold) of these high-energy beams be?"
A good question.
In the mid-70s, a Russian physicist called Anatoli Bugorski was checking a faulty accelerator when the proton beam came on and hit his head. He says he saw a bright flash "brighter than a thousand suns".
His face swelled up and skin started falling off. He lost some hearing but otherwise his brain remained in quite decent shape. He could still function, but got tired quickly. It was a crazy accident to have happened.

And this:

11.37am: i: manipulating the Higgs field isn't going to happen any time soon. You'd need to heat your part of the universe above 10,000,000,000,000,000 degrees to influence it. Which isn't really on. A bit dangerous too. If you change the Higgs field, you'll alter the size of atoms (though not their mass very much), and destablise normal matter. That's not a good thing to do. 

Or perhaps this:

9.48am:  I refer you to the priceless exchange between Robert Wilson, former director of Fermilab, and Senator John Pastore, during a Congressional hearing over the value of building a new particle accelerator. Pastore is sure there must be something about the machine that can be steered towards a defence app:
Pastore: Is there anything connected with the hopes of this accelerator that in any way involves the security of this country?
Robert Wilson: No sir, I don't belive so.
Pastore: Nothing at all?
Wilson: Nothing at all.
Pastore: It has no value in that respect?
Wilson: It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with, are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean, all the things we really venerate and honor in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except perhaps to make it worth defending. 

1 comment:

janasmama said...


That was what you just said flying over my head. LOL.

That's awesome that Mackenzie is interested in this stuff. It is kids like him that give me hope for our future generations.