By BoLOBOOLNE payday loans

LHC blue-screens the world

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite a while, and I figured tonight might be my last chance.  Plenty of people have been worrying about how the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could destroy the planet by creating small black-holes that might suck in the entire earth.  As the good folks at CERN re-assure us, everything is fine.  I pretty much believe this.  That is to say, I’m pretty sure LHC will not destroy all life as we know it.  Pretty sure.  Otherwise, we’ve all got a few more hours to live.

So long as my buddy Stephen Hawking’s theories about black holes are true, we’re fine.  They’ll dissipate by themselves and will not suck in the planet.  But to be clear, we are testing this theory.  (I just heard a scientist on the radio trip all over himself as he tried to spurt out a believable
"there really is no chance these black-holes will devour the entire
earth.")

Last year I wrote about a then-briefly-popular idea that all the world we see is actually a computer simulation.  (Pointless personal anecdaote — I had this idea in grade-school and tried to marry it with special relativity’s universal speed-limit in terms of a primitively digitized simulation where exceeding the speed of light would cause objects to skip pixels during a single time step.  Anyway.)  It’s all as if our whole universe is a game of The Sims on some hyper-intelligent alien teenager’s computer.  In a fairly religious way, this idea is unrefutable.  It’s like a virtual machine trying to hack its host operating system.  Can’t do it.

Some theories of simulated worlds hold that what we experience is a simplification of real physical laws.  If this is true, high-energy experiments like LHC could probe the limits of these simplifications.  It could cause an exception to get thrown in the simulation code.  Us clever scientists set up some extremely complex scenario that caused one of the simulation’s assumptions to fail.  What happens when the simulation crashes?  Maybe it’s a dialog box saying "Abort, Retry, Ignore."  Maybe it’s a universe-scale Blue screen of death.  Teenager’s response?  Maybe Abort.  How different is that from our whole planet getting sucked into a black hole?

Don’t panic.

  1. Celeste Winant says:

    We'll have to wait until they turn on both, opposing beams before we'll encounter the possibility of Mondo Destructo. I think that they only turned on one at a time in September. They aren't going to do anymore tests until the spring.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider

  2. Geoff Baird says:

    I've seen comments that the LHC could, in fact, destroy earth with a very low probability, but the problem is that there are people on earth who actually believe these low probabilities (i.e. 1 in 10^25) can actually occur.

    On another note, I wonder if the inherent danger of LHC-like things is the reason that we haven't seen any extraterrestrials. Maybe when species get advanced enough to understand particle physics, they all make LHC-like devices, and then all annihilate themselves. If so, it would be a funny quirk of the universe that the the act of trying to understand nature is itself fatal.

  1. […] This is analogous to the tactic PZ Myers seems to be assuming Kurzweil would take to simulating a human brain. But Kurzweil would actually start at a much higher level of abstraction.  Simulating every protein in every neuron is like building an SNES emulator by simulating every transistor in the original Nintendo’s hardware. The key to getting those SNES games to work does not lie in replicating the design of the CPU which interprets the instructions.  The key is figuring out how to run those instructions on modern hardware.  By moving up through levels of abstraction, we can simulate the system much more cheaply and easily, although there’s a chance edge-case behavior won’t be captured properly.  (What if our world is a simulation and we bump into the edge-cases?) […]