March 30, 2008

More Doomsday Predictions
— Gabriel Malor

Rick Moran riffs off of this NY Times piece to speculate about the dangers of scientific progress. First, let's talk about the Times' article and then we'll get to Rick's comments.

It's really quite simple. A couple of guys think that CERN's nearly completed Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland might cause the destruction of the Earth when it is activated. They think our options are either being sucked into a black-hole or fused into one big lump of strange matter, Ice-nine style. Their solution is to sue the Department of Energy and Fermilab (both of which are alleged to contribute to the project) for failure to file an environmental impact statement. That should be enough, they think, to derail the collider. They included CERN as a defendant, but it's doubtful the federal courts have jurisdiction over a European physics lab.

Fear about supercolliders is nothing new. In fact, one of these guys tried this particular strategy before:

This is not the first time around for Mr. Wagner. He filed similar suits in 1999 and 2000 to prevent the Brookhaven National Laboratory from operating the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. That suit was dismissed in 2001. The collider, which smashes together gold ions in the hopes of creating what is called a “quark-gluon plasma,” has been operating without incident since 2000.

Which is not to say that there won't be an incident. It's just that I'm much more likely to believe, y'know, actual scientists who tell me that the risk is low or nonexistent than I am a lawyer and a self-described "researcher on time theory" (the example of global warming "consensus" notwithstanding).

My own reading on the subject leads me to conclude that these fellows have some things in common with the folks who fear Gray Goo and genemod organisms and artificial intelligence. The complaint is always "We Just Don't KNOW!" They want us to bury our heads in the sand since the mere act of scientific inquiry may result in the destruction of humanity. The problem is that they always end up labeling as "propaganda" scientific evidence that so-called existential risks are small or nonexistent (as the plaintiff told the Times reporter in this case). That indicates to me that they aren't going to be satisfied regardless of what science uncovers which therefore makes them particularly unqualified to judge the risks involved.

That brings me to Rick's post, where he gives far too much leeway to crack-pot naysayers for my taste:

The fact that scientists are not laughing at the idea of destroying the earth as a result of an experiment shows the wisdom of taxpayers like Wagner questioning everything – even though his expertise and knowledge may fall short of those he is criticizing. I would hope the same holds true for some bio-medical research that has the potential to loose upon the planet something that could destroy life as well as those working in the artificial intelligence field who some have theorized could end up being quite unfriendly to their creators.

He's giving Wagner (the plaintiff in this case) too much credit. Wagner isn't "questioning everything." Even as a philosophical exercise, "questioning everything" hasn't been all that successful a strategy; contemporary philosophy has been stuck in a rut ever since Descartes, trust me. What we really need to be doing is seeking answers, something that Wagner is doggedly opposed to. He's already made up his mind.

We shouldn't be glorifying neo-luddism, Rick.

Bonus: For those who are interested in this kind of thing, the complaint in this case is here (PDF). If you guessed that this fellow was representing himself, you guessed right and you know what they say about lawyers who represent themselves. This is the type of stuff they hand out to 1L research and writing classes to spot the problems.

On the other hand, if this thing is going to destroy the world, do you think we could get that done before the last week in July? I'd just as soon not take the bar exam if I don't have to.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 05:02 PM | Comments (94)
Post contains 682 words, total size 5 kb.

1 I'm sure Major Carter is on it, Gabe. No worries.

Posted by: runninrebel at March 30, 2008 05:05 PM (o/KrO)

2 Scotty is ready to beam the whole thing into space at the first sign of trouble.

Posted by: eman at March 30, 2008 05:18 PM (0AZ4a)

3 Its not like we'd even know if it did destroy the earth.

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 05:21 PM (E5mM5)

4 I'm fine with them turning it on any year other than 2012.  I can handle getting sucked into a black hole, but the thought of the spirits of a million Mayans sniggering "told ya so" as we went in is too much to bear.

Qwinn

Posted by: Qwinn at March 30, 2008 05:22 PM (MN787)

5

It's also possible to form a black hole by crapping until you create a gigantic vacuum that becomes self-sufficient.

Possible, but highly improbable.

Oh frak it, it's impossible. Both. Well maybe not the latter.

Posted by: TheEJS at March 30, 2008 05:26 PM (nWQmo)

6 Nothing to worry about folks!  Me and my crowbar stand ready to handle anything and everything.

Posted by: Gordon Freeman at March 30, 2008 05:32 PM (j2Tjh)

7 contemporary philosophy has been stuck in a rut ever since Descartes, trust me.

What??  John Locke? David Hume? Steven Wright?

I don't know Gabe... I think we've seen plenty of advancement.

Posted by: krakatoa at March 30, 2008 05:34 PM (rZa+A)

8

Duh, don't cross the streams!

 

How did I not think of that one sooner?

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 05:35 PM (E5mM5)

9 As a 1L trained in such issue spotting (but too busy to give it a super-thick perusal), let me just say: hehehehehehehe... First of all, I love all of the misnumbered paragraphs. Love 'em. Second of all, I can't help but chuckle at the attempt of the second paragraph #25 (that I can see, on page 10) asking for attorney's fees because of the "inordinate amount of time" that went into preparing the suit - none of that time, apparently, went into reading the complaint twice to notice the sophomoric problems. And thirdly, that the "prime risk" of first paragraph #25 is the "lack of an ethical governance institution". If I were opposing counsel, I think I would have a nice, big rubber stamp with "12(b)(6)" (and probably a few other parts of rule 12, what the heck, just for fun), which I would then use to stamp on each page and return to the judge. He may as well get a good chuckle out of all of this, too. I'd also file file for Rule 11 sanctions while I was at it - somebody has to pay for that rubber stamp, you know. Thank you, Gabriel, for providing my wife (also a 1L) and I a good chuckle on a boring Sunday evening.

Posted by: Guy in Utah at March 30, 2008 05:38 PM (V3WTz)

10 Where in the hell did you remember Ice-Nine?

Posted by: Dave in Texas at March 30, 2008 05:39 PM (Kz86N)

11 Seriously, what's the worst that could happen?

Posted by: Black Mesa Facility at March 30, 2008 05:40 PM (CNBrI)

12

But look on the bright side: Black holes are notorious for eating up global warming. If you oppose this project, you hate polar bears and want them to drown, you heartless hack-job of a lawyer.

As an aside, I find it ironic when I, as a conservative Christian (aka, brainless, neaderthal, bible-thumper to the left) find myself laughing at those who are afraid of scientific advances on an irrational basis.

Posted by: TJ at March 30, 2008 05:44 PM (QUiHn)

13 "But... but there are things we're NOT MEANT to know!  Important things!"

Posted by: Ned Flanders at March 30, 2008 05:45 PM (WirW3)

14 I say hold off until November.  If the apostle of Hope and Change wins the election, go ahead and fire it up.  At that point, it can't do any additional harm.

Posted by: Trimegistus at March 30, 2008 05:49 PM (Ya/9X)

15 I assure everyone that these fears are completely unfounded and only serve to create needless panic.

Trust me.  Nothing can go wrong.

Posted by: G-Man at March 30, 2008 05:52 PM (j2Tjh)

Posted by: Elydo at March 30, 2008 05:54 PM (4Yn8e)

17 Gordon!  Have you seen Lamar?

Posted by: Dr. Isaac Kleiner at March 30, 2008 06:00 PM (xvIpv)

18

Elydo,

I went through that site last time you posted it. Some of it's pretty good.

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 06:01 PM (E5mM5)

19 Uh, does this mean I'll get a refund for my carbon-offsets?

Posted by: Herr Blcher at March 30, 2008 06:14 PM (56mGT)

20 Read John Ringo's Through the Looking Glass.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at March 30, 2008 06:19 PM (e+exz)

21

You want a doomsday? I'll give ya' a doomsday:

President Barrack Obama

 

or

 

President Hillary Clinton

 

or

 

President John McCain

Scary stuff, huh?

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 06:22 PM (E5mM5)

22 Dibs on the green quarks.

Posted by: mojo at March 30, 2008 06:28 PM (9n70a)

23 I like XKCD. A bit hit-or-miss perhaps, but quite often highly amusing in original ways.

I'm still waiting for the folow up to Into The Looking Glass, Vorpal Blade, to come out in paper back. It's sequel, Manxome Fox, is already out in hardback recently.

Given the Gordon Freeman references, where's Alex. Thechick. Heh heh.

Posted by: Elydo at March 30, 2008 06:31 PM (4Yn8e)

24 Two words: Rambaldi Device. It could happen. I saw it in a documentary.....no wait....that was an episode of Alias. Never mind.

Posted by: Semitough at March 30, 2008 06:36 PM (tRI3t)

25 You had me at Ice-9.

Posted by: brando at March 30, 2008 06:46 PM (rDQC9)

26 So does this mean I don't need to finish my thesis?

Posted by: MlR at March 30, 2008 06:51 PM (mX6h5)

27 I think the risk is much higher that it will make mutant superheroes/supervillains.  These nuclear research facilities are always doing that. 

Posted by: blaster at March 30, 2008 06:58 PM (lfFUo)

28 It'll all be fine, as long as you enter the correct code of 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 every 108 minutes.


Posted by: kev at March 30, 2008 06:58 PM (JgYZj)

29 Just don't let the microwaves interact with the gravitons and graviolis.  I'm not getting buried in the desert for another thousand years.

Posted by: Bender at March 30, 2008 07:03 PM (JgYZj)

30 It's unfortunate that important issues often get muddied by nutcases who are accidentally on the right side of the issue. As a risk manager who's fascinated with catastrophic risk, I've been intrigued with RHIC ever since its director first stated that black holes were an impossibility (and criticisms to that extent were crazy talk), only to later explain that black holes were indeed expected, but they would be so tiny that they would evaporate and not cause problems. The shift from impossible to "nothing to see here, move along please" was remarkable.

In my field, I'm used to experts getting it catastrophically wrong. Look at Long-Term Capital Management. The financial gurus of bond valuation put approximately $1 trillion of the economy at risk by using the wrong probability models. They predicated that it was impossible for a meltdown to occur that would put their company at risk (once in a million years), yet it took less than two years to do them in.

When you see variance that leads from impossible to "it'll occur every second, but don't worry - the little black holes will evaporate and never interact with matter", that's usually a good warning sign that these experts are too wrapped up in their heads and reasonable people need to intervene. Unfortunately our standard model in human scientific evolution is to make a serious screw-up, and then bring in the regulators, auditors and other restraints. Experiments of this sort don't facilitate a second chance.

I recommend reading Taleb's "The Black Swan" if you want to have a better idea of how humanity continually approximates incorrectly and usually doesn't change its behavior until after the catastrophic breakdown (presuming we get a chance to recover).



Posted by: redherkey at March 30, 2008 07:13 PM (kjqFg)

31

red,

scientists, like the rest of us, are fully capable of spectacular fuckups. However, I think you are taking the director of CERN out of context. My understanding of this issue (based on the write up in the Sun-Times over the first lawsuit back in 01) was that a black hole-that would swallow the earth- was an impossibility. That is different from saying that the understanding of the science and hence the calculated (or calcuable) risk had changed.

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 07:25 PM (E5mM5)

32 And while Ace is swinging the Banhammer, can we take a whack at Beijing Tour? I'm addicted to sitting at my computer, not travelling out there in the real world.

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 07:27 PM (E5mM5)

33 XBradTC,

Good points - yes, the CERN director was commenting on the impossibility of a catastrophic black hole, and perhaps his comments that black holes were impossible was in reference to the earth-swallowing kind, giving him latitude to allow the less damaging, highly frequent evaporating kind. Still, you'd expect a professional in his position to understand the difference and not make that kind of public relations error. From what I've heard, he was personally wrapped up in the program and needed to see its success for his career advancement.

I'm still troubled with LHC's models, which formally assess the probability of an earth-ending event at only 1 in 50 million. How many here have bought Lotto tickets at 1 in 200 million odds, not realizing the chances of seeing all of humanity evaporate in this experiment are many times greater than their winnings? Given a 1 in 50 million likelihood of complete elimination of all life on earth, most rational risk managers would explain to you that the cost exceeds the return. You can do this at home... multiply the expected likelihood times the cost of the event and then determine if its acceptable. Even at 1 in 50 mil x value of humanity, we're talking a multi-trillion loss event (disregarding qualitative factors).

More troubling is the recognition that LHC's probability models are admittedly based on unknowns. They're in the same camp as LTCM, Bear Stearns, etc. using gaussian distributions when they're probably not appropriate, simply because the math is cleaner.

My professional world is one where the ugly fractal distribution mess collides with the clean yet incorrect models of the gaussian quants (I run ops risk management for a global financial processors). In our world, our risks tend to suffer from autocollinearity and doesn't approximate with a gaussian model. Yet you all see countless examples in the media of meltdowns from firms that believed otherwise - look at the credit card breach incidents involving Hannaford, TJX, etc.

From all I read of LHC and CERN, we have scientists who are using the wrong model to forecast the probability of a serious screwup. The fact they're forecasting 1 in 50 million numbers is evidence. Realistically we should all expect to suffer some sort of global screwup and hope it's one we can learn and recover from, given how humans tend to learn by taking on excess risk and then only backing off when we get burned.

Hug your kids and pray that LHC's scientists are right. Nobody needs a global "WTF?!!" moment.

Posted by: redherkey at March 30, 2008 07:49 PM (kjqFg)

34 There will be Muons.

Posted by: Ostral-B Heretic at March 30, 2008 07:51 PM (+P4HU)

35 Somehow I doubt a bunch of eggheads with a supercollider are going to blow up the Earth, or crack a hole in Time and Space to let in the Elder Gods again. What bunk, no wonder the USA is slipping behind half of Asia in the sciences these days. This is either Green Politicized Science working a gambit, or an embarrassing public exhibition of scientific ignorance. 

Posted by: exdem13 at March 30, 2008 08:03 PM (RXDLd)

36 Mr. Redherkey,

I am intrigued by your ideas and would wish to subscribe to your newsletter, however it appears you have published it here.

Will check in when I reach Istanbul.


Posted by: runninrebel at March 30, 2008 08:09 PM (o/KrO)

37

Ok, red, you went WAY over my head. I understand the concept of risk/return analysis, but teh math/modeling blew right past me.

Having said that, we'll never know if they fuck up. It will be over before we know it has started.

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 08:14 PM (E5mM5)

38 exdem13, how is a supercollider in Europe evidence of our loosing ground to Asia?

Posted by: XBradTC at March 30, 2008 08:18 PM (E5mM5)

39

And speaking of black holes and the gap between us and Asia...The good news is that we've started to close the "Hot Asian Chick Gap" that used to exist between us and Asia. Twenty years ago, there was only Tia Carrera, and she wasn't even 100 percent Asian. Now, Kristi Yamaguchi isn't even top 20 material.

OK, you can go back to your geeky science stuff now.

Posted by: Ted K. at March 30, 2008 09:03 PM (exWY4)

40 Black Mesa? bah, everybody knows a supercollider failure just an excuse for God to steal the planet away from us. Just watch out for that guy with all the spiky bits.

Posted by: HowardDevore at March 30, 2008 09:57 PM (GBnca)

41 I don't think I'll ever see a resonance cascade, much less create one.

Posted by: Black Mesa Scientist at March 30, 2008 10:23 PM (pY77a)

42 I'm sure Major Carter is on it, Gabe. No worries.

It's Colonel Carter, by the way.

Posted by: Dr. Rodney McKay, Genius at March 31, 2008 12:58 AM (vfDxP)

43 I say light that fucker up. We certainly have it coming. Well, I do.

Posted by: along came Jones at March 31, 2008 01:06 AM (KOkrW)

44

A black hole already exists on earth.

It's called Detroit.

Sucks in money, spews out people.

Posted by: Spartan Fan at March 31, 2008 01:22 AM (RP451)

45 I, for one, welcome our hot new time machine overlords.

Posted by: Michael_Rittenhouse at March 31, 2008 02:36 AM (1is+a)

46

Damn, Rittenhouse. There's something about a woman in coveralls. It's the zippers, I think. You're not a physics department recruiter, are you? 'Cause I can see some possibilities there. On a guess, I'd have put the chances of finding hawt on the hotpile at < Horrible Screaming Sudden End of World.

Yes. I would hit that with a supercollider, black hole and all. 

Posted by: comatus at March 31, 2008 02:55 AM (aD1WH)

47

I guess this is one way to address the sub-prime market.

But really...I'm not a Luddite and I think Humanity benefits from scientific inquiry and experimentation. 

On the other hand, there's a part of me that wonders if our current universe owes its existence to a supercollider that started a chain reaction in a previous universe....

Posted by: JohnTant at March 31, 2008 03:35 AM (PFy0L)

48

3 Its not like we'd even know if it did destroy the earth.

(in my best Bombay accent)

Curse you unbeliever! We will have many future lives to remember our folly!

Anyhow, we already have a black hole, it's called Calcutta!

Posted by: 5 Hindu Cats at March 31, 2008 04:29 AM (Knaf0)

49 Those sneaky Swiss! Always up to no good!

Posted by: 5Cats at March 31, 2008 04:29 AM (Knaf0)

50 I'm going to double down on doomsday scenarios and put all my money into colliders.

Posted by: polynikes at March 31, 2008 04:31 AM (m2CN7)

51 Did I miss the part of civics class that covered the jurisdiction of US federal courts ?  I mean CERN is in Europe.  Unless Congress added them as another state or states and I missed it, I don't see how a US federal court will be able to do much.

Posted by: Neo at March 31, 2008 04:31 AM (Yozw9)

52 You ever talk to Rick? He isn't very bright.

Posted by: Christoph at March 31, 2008 04:38 AM (hawOV)

53 Neo, if' it's a threat to the United States then, constitutionally, the President could act. Take out CERN with an air strike. Target the leading scientists with special ops.

Posted by: Christoph at March 31, 2008 04:52 AM (hawOV)

54 The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

Posted by: chicken little at March 31, 2008 04:56 AM (E3XtI)

55

Meh. Ace really needs to get a morning person on staff. I got nothing to do but work in the a.m.

And I'm not doing that!

Posted by: S. Weasel at March 31, 2008 04:58 AM (rasT+)

56

How cool would it be if we really could make a black hole?  

 

Posted by: Veeshir at March 31, 2008 05:01 AM (ThMnZ)

57 Typical. Rich white people are afraid of a black hole.

Just wait until it destroys the earth.  The chickens will come home to roost!

Posted by: Rev Wright at March 31, 2008 05:23 AM (3hZX3)

58 I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

Posted by: Robert Oppenheimer (Jr.) at March 31, 2008 05:29 AM (vfDxP)

59 It frightens me just a little that I understood part of redherkey's math.  I'll get over it, though. 

What redherkey hasn't factored in to the equations is the fact that people routinely DON'T make rational decisions based on the risks.  If Queen Isabella's risk manager was making the decision, the Indians would still own Manhattan.

And Bubba's last words would never be, "Hey y'all!  Watch this!"

Posted by: Charybdis E. Scylla at March 31, 2008 05:38 AM (e59Bv)

Posted by: lawhawk at March 31, 2008 05:41 AM (I2Yrp)

61 Back when the Manhattan Project was about to test the first nuclear device, the scientists put all kinds of bets together on the outcome. One or two scientists bet that the ensuing nuclear reaction would set fire to the atmosphere in a chain reaction while others suggested a fizzle and one even got it right on the button.


Posted by: lawhawk at March 31, 2008 05:44 AM (I2Yrp)

62 We need to address the implications of this Hardon Collider. It could spring up at any time, draining precious resources from where they are needed, and cause poor judgment and infinite regret the next morning.

Oh, Hadron Collider? That's different. Nevermind...

Posted by: ken at March 31, 2008 05:58 AM (ueTby)

63 I'm good to go. I have my towel and my Electronic Thumb.

Posted by: notropis at March 31, 2008 06:00 AM (MuKTm)

64 Even at 1 in 50 mil x value of humanity, we're talking a multi-trillion loss event

Dude, you're putting WAY too much value on humanity.

Posted by: Jack Kervorkian at March 31, 2008 06:02 AM (Ds4I5)

65 The NEW YORK SLIMES is like the horns of a steer a point here a point there and a lot of bull in between

Posted by: Spurwing Plover at March 31, 2008 06:07 AM (I9Upt)

66

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/31/2008  A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

http://thunderrun.blogspot.com/2008/03/web-reconnaissance-for-03312008.html

Posted by: David M at March 31, 2008 06:17 AM (gIAM9)

67 One big problem with comparing these sorts of probabilities to the probability of winning the lottery is that, while mathematically correct, seen from the limited point of view of a single individual, that's not what people see with a lottery. On a given week, when the prize is way up there, and a half a billion tickets are sold, the odds are better than 50/50 that SOMEBODY will win the lottery on that night. Who wouldn't want to have a chance to be that somebody? (As many a person has said to me in a bar -- it's going to be somebody, why not me?) In other words, people look at the probability of there being a winner, not the probability of their being the winner. This situation is more akin to a strange lottery, with a 1 in 50 million chance, where only one ticket per year is allowed to be sold. Think there'd be much of a waiting line to buy that single ticket? Think there'd be much news coverage of that annual drawing? ("Once again, just like every year since we began, almost 6 millennia ago, we didn't have a winner! Bob from Nantucket's ticket DID match one number, however! Next year, Wo Fat from Honolulu will be trying his luck....") That doesn't change the actual logical risk analysis, but it's a bit disingenuous to imply that "if you're willing to buy a lottery ticket, with worse odds, you really ought to think about making these folks stop." Also, of course, in the decision process, you have to include the possible benefits of that 49,999,999 to 1 chance that the world won't be destroyed. If the potential return is a few hundred billion dollars, then, suddenly, it might not be a bad risk after all. (Of course, that's not figuring in the actual cost of the project.) But still, if there really is something like a 1 in 50 million chance that the world will be destroyed by committing an obviously avoidable act, personally, I'm the sort of risk-averse person who'd avoid the act, mostly on the fear that God's gonna look down and shake his head and say, "Dude. Don't you think that was just a BIT arrogant?"

Posted by: notropis at March 31, 2008 06:38 AM (MuKTm)

68 Just so they don't create a brown hole by mistake.

Posted by: Roy at March 31, 2008 06:48 AM (cB77O)

69

Still, noone seems to be addressing the possibility of the Hulk resulting from this thing and smashing stuff. 

That would be reason enough for us to take down the Swiss. 

Posted by: blaster at March 31, 2008 06:52 AM (Q1Aqf)

70

<blockquote>Their solution is to sue the Department of Energy and Fermilab (both of which are alleged to contribute to the project) for failure to file an environmental impact statement.</blockquote>

At the court hearing, one of the scientists being sued was heard to remark, "Yes, your Honor, its true.  This man has no dick."

Posted by: mcgurk at March 31, 2008 09:11 AM (Ri74D)

71 blaster: If it happened, the Hulk would be spawned in the middle of the EU and start smashing things.  I really am not seeing the downside here.

Posted by: Ian S. at March 31, 2008 11:59 AM (p05LM)

72 Aren't small black holes supposed to evaporate?

IAC, this guy would shit his pants if he saw stuff I'm working on and all the gear I got in the basement.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at March 31, 2008 03:27 PM (tvnQf)

73 It is human nature for people who think "strange matter" is the stuff that collects under their toenails to perk up at such words as "black hole" and start to get panicky. That is a problem and it is a bar to scientific progress. On the other hand, it is possible for scientists to be so hell-bent on their theories that they close their minds to any contrary notions (global warming anyone?)

Since the issues involved here are so esoteric, we end up relying on the experimenters – who have a vested interest in proceeding with their work – to assess the risk. To be concerned about their ability to fully and frankly weigh the potential costs (however minuscule) is not luddite behavior.

I just hope that these scientists realize that if their experiment destroys the Earth, they will not be able to publish their results.

Posted by: Glen at March 31, 2008 05:34 PM (P0yFq)

74 I would say the only black holes that need to fear are the hairy ones... ...oh, it's a Large HADRon Collider. Whoops.

Posted by: cheshirecat at March 31, 2008 05:54 PM (dklVT)

75 Wagner isn't "questioning everything." Even as a philosophical exercise, "questioning everything" hasn't been all that successful a strategy; contemporary philosophy has been stuck in a rut ever since Descartes, trust me.

Few truer words have ever been spoken.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at March 31, 2008 05:59 PM (3+3kx)

76 I just wanna know if the Higgs Boson exists. If we have to destroy the Earth do it, I'm okay with that.

Posted by: Farmer Joe at March 31, 2008 06:04 PM (nYv/9)

77 Sounds like somebody has been reading Hogans "Thrice Upon a Time"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrice_Upon_a_Time

Posted by: Georg Felis at March 31, 2008 06:28 PM (i5bRG)

78 Okay. Forget about the LHC crap. In searching around for information on the nature of "strangelets" I found what is gonna really kill us.

Links:

http://www.seds.org/messier/xtra/ngc/etacar.html
http://www.astro.uiuc.edu/~kaler/sow/etacar.html

The information is about Eta Carinae, apparently just about the biggest damned star in the whole frickin' 'verse. It is around 100-120 times the mass of our own sun; near the upper limit of stellar size. So big that when it dies it may not end up as a supernova, but as a hypernova, an explosion that will send a world-ending burst of gamma radiation racing across the cosmos at the speed of light. And, me droogies, the best part is… Eta Carinae is right in our own galactic back yard! Yes, it lies not in some cosmic hinterland from which it could not harm us but rather a mere 7500 light years away. So, please, gentlemen, a moment of silence – for what we have here is something that is demonstrably more frightening than the Large Hadron Collider, brown people, and feminine empowerment. Combined.


Posted by: Glen at March 31, 2008 08:13 PM (P0yFq)

79 Whoops. False alarm. See how easy it is? We are only ever one link away from finding out we are doomed or saved.


Posted by: Glen at March 31, 2008 08:30 PM (P0yFq)

80 Eta Carinae is right in our own galactic back yard! Yes, it lies not in some cosmic hinterland from which it could not harm us but rather a mere 7500 light years away. So, please, gentlemen, a moment of silence – for what we have here is something that is demonstrably more frightening than the Large Hadron Collider, brown people, and feminine empowerment. Combined. Which means even if it blows up tomorrow, I (and everyone else currently living) will still be long dead by the time it gets here. Big whoop.

Posted by: cheshirecat at March 31, 2008 10:29 PM (dklVT)

81 Why not build stuff like this on Mars or something.....?

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