ellie_l: (88 Miles per Hour)
[personal profile] ellie_l

Just so ya'll know, October 21st is the day when the earth might get sucked into a black hole.

Make your plans accordingly!

Also, best reason I've heard yet not to be worried about it: "Look, it's a 10^-19 chance, and you've got a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving"

And finally, here's why you should be far more worried about CERN creating Skynet than sucking us all into a black hole:

Date: 2008-09-10 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] take-walker.livejournal.com
That really is the best reason.

Now I want to know what would cause that evaporation...

Date: 2008-09-10 12:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
I believe that would be the first law of Thermodynamics. The extremely small chance of it happening would be the second. The second takes so much fun out of life.... ;)

Date: 2008-09-10 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] take-walker.livejournal.com
Curse you, Second Law! D:

Date: 2008-09-10 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mathwhiz78.livejournal.com
Damn. The odds are disappointingly low. I was already planning how I would spend the money I wouldn't need to give Sallie Mae, but looks like that's not gonna happen now.


Date: 2008-09-10 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mathwhiz78.livejournal.com
Also, wait a second--ok, so there's a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving. There are roughly 3 billion males on earth. If we assume a mere third are of shaving age and shave roughly every other day, that creates 200 billion (2x10^10) shaves per year. If we extrapolate to a decade, we'd have 2x10^11 shaves.

In other words, based on sheer probability, we would expect at least one person to have suddenly evaporated while shaving by now.

Date: 2008-09-10 01:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
how do we know they haven't? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_human_combustion)

Date: 2008-09-10 01:51 pm (UTC)
(deleted comment)

Date: 2008-09-10 04:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mathwhiz78.livejournal.com
Yeah, I thought about that after I did the math. But I don't know how often women shave, so I left it out. Yes, it would increase the odds that it's happened, though.

Date: 2008-09-10 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crystalsor.livejournal.com
I'm going to evaporate while shaving? I better let people know to turn off the shower after I'm gone.

five of one l, half-dozen-minus-one of another

Date: 2008-09-10 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nasal.livejournal.com
maybe a black hole will take us to a restaurant at the end of the universe, or a different multiverse entirely. like the one where it rained donuts on the simpsons. or to big rock candy mountain, where there's lemonade-and-whiskey springs.

as for CERN: that's funny that you should post it, i just read an article on that not ten minutes ago and was about to write you a letter asking what you think.

what i think of it:
From: [identity profile] crystalsor.livejournal.com
Wait. Ellie's black hole (Yes. It is in her possession) is going to take us to free booze? Awesome!!
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
Physics always leads to booze. Occasionally it's free.
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
because it's Really Neat! It's super neat! It's like the neatest thing we as scientists have ever done! This is the machine that is going to take us deeper into the structure of the universe than we've ever known before! It's providing jobs for thousands of people and the things that come out of such a venture benefit society as a whole. It's such a super amazing awesome thing, that there's really no reason not to do it!
From: [identity profile] crystalsor.livejournal.com
So we're going to learn what we already know. The universe, and therefore the moon, are in fact made of cheese.
From: [identity profile] i-amy.livejournal.com
... Because it's neat?

I can think of a reason not to: because they estimate it'll use about as much energy as Fiji did in 2005.

May I request a slightly more rigorous justification?
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
It's needed to be able to shed some new light on questions that some people find neat. These include looking for the Higgs Boson so that we can have a better understanding of the nature of mass, the reason that our universe is made up of way more matter than antimatter, working on what have been thusfar elusive dark energy and dark matter. String theorists are hoping that it gives some positive results for them to keep going. The reason for it is basic research, to understand more about the universe than we already know. This has apparently been beneficial enough to keep this gigantic project funded all the way to completion
From: [identity profile] i-amy.livejournal.com
Beneficial to whom? (Elaborate, please, on "the things that come out of such a venture".)

If we could power Fiji for a year or answer questions that some people find neat, why should we answer the questions?
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
Initially, it benefits those who help fund it first. And by that I mean people with larger bank accounts. They tend to get first dibs on anything new just because when things are new, they're expensive.

So, ok, like I said it's basic research so I cannot directly answer right now what use it will be to people. All I can offer is past things that have come out of similar research and the idea is that similar things will come out of this research.

One of the largest things to come out of it is the entire field of medical imaging. X-Rays, MRIs, CT Scans, PET Scans, pretty much anything that looks inside you without cutting you open based on technology that comes from particle physics. There's one that someone at JLab published a paper on a few months ago that lets us get a picture of the lungs which have been nearly impossible in the past since they're filled with air and it was hard to take a picture of air inside of people. So that benefit would go to anyone who can afford health care. If the government wants, this technology can be widely available and benefit far more of society than it does now which I see as a fault of the government and not of the research.

It's also given some cures to diseases. Cancer especially is currently treated by targeting and killing the cancer cells. Radiation does this quite well, although it tends to have some pretty nasty side effects. But it keeps people alive and lots of people want that and they keep going for it. But they don't want the negative side effects and there is work ongoing to stop them. They're actually building an entire new experimental hall at JLab whose main focus is going to be studying the medical applications of the electron beam.

This stuff requires a huge amount of computing power. So the people they have working on it have innovated to get the most bang for their buck. This means that they're helping to make computers smaller and faster. Quantum computing is something that is going to pop out of studying particle physics. We need to know the nature of particles better than we do already to get them up and running and available at your local Target. They also utilize new ways to communicate over the internet. So far the only videoconferencing I've seen that allows more than 2 people to share videos has been done by collaborators working at CERN. Even places like LJ trace their roots back to particle physics who started by keeping electronic logbooks so that everyone could see the experiment. But they needed some way of seeing this information all over the world, so they had a huge hand in the development of the internet. Hell, computers in general trace their roots back to the Manhattan project. Huge leaps forward in computer technology came from bringing the nation's leading scientists in the same place to work toward a common goal.

There are negatives to this pursuit of science, sure. This thing is 100m underground and 27km in diameter. Digging that all up isn't the most friendly thing one can do to the environment. The power consumption is huge. Turns out the company that's supplying the power (EDF (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89lectricit%C3%A9_de_France)) makes 74.5% of its power from 2003 by nuclear energy.

And speaking of energy, there is collaboration between the people at CERN and the people at ITER (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER) who working on making power safer, cheaper, and more widely available.
From: [identity profile] punkarze.livejournal.com
A few hundred years ago, some loon was looking for a quicker way to trade spices with India. Instead, he discovered America.

A few decades ago, a lab tech noted that a contaminated pitri dish in another experiment had an area that did not grow bacteria. This was the discovery of penicillin.

Sometimes, doing science just for the sake of science is a good thing. While you may or may not get the answer you wanted or expected, or any answer at all to your original question, you may find answers to other questions, perhaps ones you did not even know existed.

Learning how to understand and even control gravity would save alot more energy than Fiji would use in a year.
From: [identity profile] i-amy.livejournal.com
So this will benefit the uninsured homeless of, say, Kent – when the government says? To whom does the government belong?

Are the answers to these questions more important than my starving neighbor?
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
To whom does the government belong?
If someone's being left out, then not to the people that it should.
From: [identity profile] i-amy.livejournal.com
Who changes that?

Why are scientific questions important to you?
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
they're important to me mostly because it's a job that pays fairly decently. And it comes fairly easily to me so it's nice to do. And it's a job that has some things I can get excited about, which I describe a bit above. They're not necessarily the most pressing issues in my life, but doing my part to answer them helps pay the bills

As to the first question...I'm not sure yet. I feel like I'm still learning how it all works to figure out how to get things in place to change it.

Date: 2008-09-19 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nasal.livejournal.com
both of you have fascinating viewpoints
From: [identity profile] sunlightlotus.livejournal.com
maybe a black hole will take us to a restaurant at the end of the universe, or a different multiverse entirely. like the one where it rained donuts on the simpsons. or to big rock candy mountain, where there's lemonade-and-whiskey springs

This is one of the best comments I have ever read on LJ. Seriously. Just the references. awesome

Date: 2008-09-19 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nasal.livejournal.com
thank you :) ha! i didn't even realize that, i was just sort of stream-of-consciousness..ing. yeah, folk music, douglas adams, the simpsons, and robert anton wilson... thank my lucky stars for...

The Internet: Where People Finally Get My Jokes!

Date: 2008-09-10 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackrad.livejournal.com
i know you tried to explain to me this summer why this is not going to happen. but it kinda really concerns me that they're just going to put the rest of us at risk like that. i guess worrying about it is not productive though.

Date: 2008-09-10 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
the risk is so tiny though. So so so so so incredibly tiny I can't even begin to describe how tiny it is.

Which is why we(physicists)'re proceeding

Date: 2008-09-11 08:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackrad.livejournal.com
but, like, a tiny chance is still way more chance than we have if they don't do it. and, like, in the tiny chance that it does happen, it's not like the physicists who decided to proceed with the experiment will be the only ones who suffer the consequenses, it will be the entire planet. and that's kinda huge and i just don't understand why they'd take that chance with, like, not just other people's lives, but with all the lives on our whole planet.

Date: 2008-09-11 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellie-l.livejournal.com
a tiny chance is still way more chance than we have if they don't do it

Not really. I mean, the earth has a very very small (but nonzero) chance of just evaporating instantaneously on its own. Or hell, it even has a nonzero chance that enough particles will move to the center at the same time so fast that they form a black hole large enough to devour the planet. The probability of it happening at CERN is roughly the same as the planet destroying itself without the help of people

Date: 2008-09-11 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackrad.livejournal.com
k, that makes sense. it still freaks me out.

Date: 2008-09-11 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] punkarze.livejournal.com
For this reason alone, I love math.
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