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September 23, 2008

After last week, $8 billion for a broken collider doesn't sound like so much.....

Posted: 11:19 AM ET

The Large Hadron Collider won't be unlocking some of the mysteries of the Universe for a while. It's broken. LHC's operators says they'll need at least two months to warm the collider up from its near-absolute-zero temperatures and fix a portion of it.  (Update:  CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, said late today (9/23) that the collider will not be ready to re-start until spring 2009).

A section of the Large Hadron Collider, which straddles the border between Switzerland and France.   (CERN Photo)

A section of the Large Hadron Collider, which straddles the border between Switzerland and France. (CERN Photo)

It's been called the biggest science project ever: $8 billion in funds and years in research, some of it from the US Department of Energy. The potential payoff? Unlocking some of the deepest-held secrets of physics, like how matter comes together.

After a week in which we committed, or considered committing, as much as a trillion dollars toward cleaning up the financial industry's mess (most of it from U.S. taxpayers), we're looking back at the wide range of opinions that this blog's readers rolled out about the project. There were four basic groups:

1) Folks who wanted to turn the collider into a religious (or anti-religious) statement. I'm not going there, and I regret that so many commentors took a science blog in that direction.

2) Those who feared that the collider would create a black hole, then suck us all into it. The depth of scientific due diligence on the project says that this is an impossibility.

3) Many who were genuinely stoked about the potential for discovery here. I'm with you.

and 4)  Those who thought that $8 billion is too much to spend on something like this.

It's this last group that I want to address:  sure, there are lots of things we could spend $8 billion on now - like feeding several billion of our fellow citizens and beginning to help them out of poverty. Or maybe one-tenth of the money the Feds dumped into bailing out AIG last week. But let's put the collider money into perspective. Here are a few other things we buy with that kind of money:

- A little over four years of domestic sales of Doritos.
- Approximately two-thirds of the annual gambling revenues in the state of Nevada.
- About three days of US oil imports.
- About a month's worth of US cigarette sales.
- About ten months' worth of US lung cancer treatment costs. (A worthy effort to be sure, but one that wouldn't be nearly as costly if it weren't for the cigarette numbers above.)

What's my point? The collider's broken. It may or may not come close to the goals and dreams its many scientists aspired to reach. But the only gamble here is with money, and this is one that's well worth taking.

Peter Dykstra Executive Producer CNN Science, Tech, and Weather

Filed under: economy • Large Hadron Collider • Physics

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Grant   September 23rd, 2008 11:32 am ET

I'm stoked for the project. But for $8 million, the collider shouldn't break after two weeks. Some of the smartest scientific minds are working on this project which has the potential to unlock some amazing mysteries. Yet already it needs a major overhaul and is sure to draw more criticism because someone overlooked a major pitfall. This project is too important for screw-ups so let's fix it and get back to work.

joseph f   September 23rd, 2008 11:54 am ET

I think that the majority of "1 / 2" posts are people who are bored at work and want entertainment. I'm only a 19 year old Biology major and I'm more opened minded than most of the "commentors" here.

Other than that, I'm thoroughly interested in the results that the LHC provides. I like to think of it as this: In 1903, the Wright brothers tested their creation at Kitty Hawk. How many thought they were crazy and spent too much money? Its been over and hundred years now, and what do we have because of their determination to fly?

Franko   September 23rd, 2008 11:58 am ET

US contributed only a small part, but would get 100% of results.
Comparision should be to Japanese sushi consumption

Rob Rocklin   September 23rd, 2008 12:03 pm ET

First of all I think the U.S. is contributing a fraction of the $8 billion. Second the cost is a tiny fraction of U.S. defense spending. An you can see where that is getting us. Seems like a no brainer.

John Gratton   September 23rd, 2008 12:23 pm ET

Put something else into perspective. 8 Billion was the total cost.
Who paid out 8 billion, no one. Universities around the planet participated, companies and yes governments used tax dollars.
Look at the economic ripples that have already been created.
Whats the net cost? Much much less, never mind the scientific benefits.

Don Fox   September 23rd, 2008 12:29 pm ET

I agree 100%.... if I were one of those people with billions in the bank, things like this would get full support from me.... I believe they will discover how to use those small particles and probably why we don't have floating cars now and use gasoline..... and who knows what else..

Wisdom   September 23rd, 2008 12:37 pm ET

– About ten months’ worth of US lung cancer treatment costs. (A worthy effort to be sure, but one that wouldn’t be nearly as costly if it weren’t for the cigarette numbers above.)

The Tax on smoking is about 400%....
The tax earned far exceeds the 8 Billion per year you speak of...

Ban smoking I'd love it... but be ready to make up for the 700 Million dollar tax dollar loss in NY City alone!

Why do you think they aren't illegal... the govenment is making a killing on them... no pun intended!

Ralph Felt   September 23rd, 2008 12:39 pm ET

I understand that after victory in the last gulf war, the coalition provisional government lost track of up to 20 billion dollars in U.S. cash money. 8 billion dollars (the U.S. contribution would be fraction of that) to look at conditions in the universe just after the big bang, seems to be a more reasonable way to spend money. At least we know it's not going to be funding global terrorism.

MichaelB   September 23rd, 2008 12:48 pm ET

"– About three days of US oil imports."

Ouch, that about says it all right there. I think we can spare a few days of oil for science.

S Callahan   September 23rd, 2008 1:09 pm ET

There is nothing wrong with advancing science and I'm all for that. I am one of NASA's greatest advocates.
As for the LHC...This project began in 1954..yet most people did not know about it until this last year or so. To me, the lack of public information (readily available) was the first act of neglect in this project because it drummed up the secrecy theory and other insane ideas (except regarding religion of course:-). Their public relations dept. did not do well (ok, one utube vd helped it a little). As well, the current sistuation going on there has a life threatening potential to their employees, mabe even the nearby community, since helium was released in the air (nuclear ?). Why is there not more info disclosed on that? I'd rather hear truth told then secrecty kept or distortions of the truth. Also, some 'in the know" folks knew there were problems early on with this project yet the public was kept in the black and basically humilated by others who thought their science was superior to any other entity. Considering, we have masses of people suffering without food, without housing;trainsportation; or even basic rights this money would have served humanity with much greater fruitful results if invested in humans. Can you let a child starve for three days, or a year, for the sake of science? I can't.
As well, I think the LHC challenges values -beliefs systems that people are pretty firm in yet it (?)closes any dialogue to where it can compiment each other and that is wrong.

On a lighter side:
I'm glad I dislike Doritos. It's way too much money for junk
I am concerned for the people in Nevada and their gambling..I thought there was a hotline or 12 step gambling program..isn't that the gamblig captal of the world?
Three days of US oil imports would have helped your fellow man avoid long lines in Atlanta right now.
Yeah, the cigs could go..and probably should yet in the US we stil have free will to choose or not.
I am surprised you failed to mention that not all lung disease is related to cigarettes... nowdays lots of lung disease if related to toxic enviromental factors outside of cigarette use.

stan   September 23rd, 2008 1:09 pm ET

there is ALWAYS going to be too much good science and not enough money.

had we used the better part of a trillion $ wasted on invading iraq we might have a viable source of fusion energy by now (The price tag on the iter is 'only' about 9 billion)

sure it could be argued that the LHC is pure science that is unlikely to provide a lot of real world usefulness – but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. (yes yes yes, CERN came up with the http://www... but i'd argue that SOMEONE would have done it as computers developed and proliferated, with or without particle physics research)

stan   September 23rd, 2008 1:16 pm ET

why do people like s callahan always pull the same BS?

"As well, the current sistuation going on there has a life threatening potential to their employees, mabe even the nearby community since helium was released in the air (nuclear ?)"

no,. it wasn't 'nuklear' helium. it was the same stuff that you can inhale from a party balloon to make your voice go all funny. it would only pose a danger to the near by community of people trapped it in balloons , tied the balloons to lawn chairs and floated away on them.

but that doesn't stop you from trying to tie the spector of the big bad 'N' word to the issue, does it?

how about this – instead of saying things that are needlessly sensational why don't you educate yourself on the issue first? you are the one who claimed you wanted public disclosure. the first requirement for public disclosure is an educated public. thats YOUR responsibility.

I dont know why CNN actually gives voice to such nonsense.

S Callahan   September 23rd, 2008 1:23 pm ET

Really Stan?You aren't helping the cause of Science by attacking others views.
Helium , lead, nuclear..hmmm....don't think I am missing something here...since your so scientific then perhaps you can be useful in breaking down the components of this. Insulting me is not helpful.

stan   September 23rd, 2008 1:30 pm ET

may i call you s for short? i'm lazy when it comes to proper form while typing.

i did nothing but insult you because i have seen your other posts on this subject and feel that i can with a fair degree of confidence – wager that any effort made trying to explain the situation to you is a waste. after all you are the one worrying that the helium might be 'nuclear' with exactly NO factual basis to support that ASSumption.

like i said – EDUCATE YOURSELF. it's not my responsibility to do this.

you dont want helpful. if you did you wouldn't bring up the nuclear scare word at your first opportunity.

for those who may read this and are truly interested in what is being talked about, the helium in question is liquid helium. it is the exact same stuff that is used to fill children's balloons to make them float, the only difference being that the gas has been cooled to bellow it's boiling point and therefore is in liquid form. liquid helium is and extraordinarily cold substance that is used to cool the superconducting magnets used in large accelerators as they need to be maintained within a few degrees of absolute zero to function properly.

nothing 'nuclear' to worry about.

H   September 23rd, 2008 1:39 pm ET

I'm very interested in what comes out of the LHC, but let's face the fact that it won't really mean anything for anyone besides the dozens or hundreds of PhD-types on the project. They get to explore great issues on our nickel. To top it off, they always love the idea that any knowledge gained from this will spark new questions and new projects.

You want a better alternative? I'd have preferred the money go into the research/construction of a space elevator. But it isn't as "sexy" as quarks and gluons and all. Besides, it really isn't even "science"; it's just engineering. That doesn't excite the PhDs in any special way. I'm not against them, I just don't understand why the rest of us should pay for their opportunity to exchange great ideas amongst themselves and we have to wait for the Sagans and other populizers who will make it a little more clear to us. Once clear, we just go on with our lives unchanged in any fundamental way.

And it's not an issue of Doritos or gambling or oil versus the Collider. Those are going to happen on their own because each of them brings something into the life of the consumer. What does the LHC bring into our lives that a really great engineering project or medical project wouldn't? The knowledge of how cancer really works is just as accessible and a lot more useful to every person on this planet (besides those scientists) than how gravity really works. Of course, about 1/4 of those scientists will be very, very interested in how cancer works, and can be affected, at some point in their lives.

V.G.   September 23rd, 2008 1:54 pm ET

Approxiamately $1.21 U.S., one time donatation, from every person on this planet for this experiment. Worth it!!!!!!!!!

kilgore   September 23rd, 2008 2:38 pm ET

One has to keep in mind all the contracters that this project keeps employeed as well for parts labor and catering to the brains.

thats where all the cash goes its not like it just poofs out of existance.
Sure it may be going into another countrys econemy but the US would have prolly thrown it at some lagging nation for no return anyway this might have merit.

Tim C.   September 23rd, 2008 2:40 pm ET

As H said "What does the LHC bring into our lives that a really great engineering project or medical project wouldn’t?" Even the most brilliant man/woman was not born with all their knowledge they had to learn it and start some were. Any thing that is discovered here will not give an immediate impact to life but it could be the next starting point for the next brilliant mind to start from. and so on, and so on, then maybe find the solution to some of today's problems. This is could be the starting point that solves our problems.

Kandy   September 23rd, 2008 3:05 pm ET

This thing has already created a black hole for taxpayer money. When the taxpayers donate their cash, they expect something in return. Some product, technology or solution to help solve disease, starvation, climate change or other societal ill.

Not, "wow look at the really interesting and completely useless things we found out for our $8 billion."

Kandy: to be clear, the US Taxpayer share of the LHC is $531 million; link here to find a more detailed list of contributions from Canada, Japan, Russia, the UK, France, Switzerland, and India.

Jimmie C.   September 23rd, 2008 3:09 pm ET

Why am I not surprised.............

terry   September 23rd, 2008 3:36 pm ET

Jesus wouldn't approve.

Stephen Crowley   September 23rd, 2008 3:39 pm ET

There is no theory of quantum gravity that unifies with general relatively. This means that we(common knowledge) have NO IDEA how matter works. The prevailing models of physics are wrong and this "impossibility" is inverted due to the hyperbolic (negative space) geometry of black holes, such that impossibilities become necessities. The formation of a "tiny black hole" will cause a new universe to inflate and destroy ours.

Nikola T   September 23rd, 2008 3:43 pm ET

See, thats the problem with the public they expect results. thats all nothing more or less. The public is like a small animal. Ready to jump and run away the second something happens it dosent like. The public is to quick to judge. Did we go to the moon in 2 days? no, it took perseverence and patience. Mistakes happen even for the best scientists in the world. stop bitching.

W.R.K.   September 23rd, 2008 4:14 pm ET

Let us not forget that the greatest precept of science is discovery. Most Americans do not fully understand the benefits of the collider project: "Who cares how the universe was made- it won't put food on the table or heat my home." I think that perhaps a simpler, more descriptive definition of how this science can improve the quality of life for the world should be a focus of public discussion with physicists and theorinst there to answer these questions. Few know the implications and benefits of this science and it should be made simple and easy to identify with for John Q. Public.

John   September 23rd, 2008 5:22 pm ET

I find it hard to believe that any person who breaths O2 would find this project unworthy of the expense. The science we learn is real, and the knowledge humanity gains from these scientific behemoths is larger than the value of the discoveries science gains through experiments. When we understand the small world of particles, we have the ability to understand the fabric matter, and the exciting surprises of new questions we never considered asking. 2 months isn't so long when we remember back when the worthy Hubble space telescope was found to need glasses. We don't hear the complaints, and criticism from those who felt Hubble was a luxury we could have done without. Hubble was worth the cost, and we'll see the LHC in the same light.

Art W   September 23rd, 2008 5:26 pm ET

"Approxiamately $1.21 U.S., one time donatation, from every person on this planet for this experiment. Worth it!!!!!!!!!"

Um . . . can I get my $1.21 back?

Peacelove   September 23rd, 2008 5:39 pm ET

I am personally sort of happy for whatever happened to the LHC project. After all the fears that arose from this project, it seemed quite essential for a breakdown to happen. So, now thw people would be aware of the cons of the next mushroom cloud.

Ryan   September 23rd, 2008 7:08 pm ET

It's too bad that there was a break down but with a machine as complex as this it's going to happen sooner or later. I prefer sooner and get all the bugs out now.

Yes there are ALWAYS needy people in the world and this money could have helped them blah blah blah, how about they help themselves for a change.

This is the sort of science that can propel humanity to the next step, i.e fast forms of space travel, new energy sources and cleaning up the planet. If your tax dollars didn't go to this it would end up in some politicians jet in the form of fuel (that’s where they get their gas money from)

Ryan   September 23rd, 2008 7:27 pm ET

I’m glad we have all of these “knowledgeable” people to think up all of the bad things that could happen. I guess the worlds smartest scientists don’t know what they’re talking about…….

Kevin   September 23rd, 2008 8:02 pm ET

AND! It's only 1/100 th the cost of bailing out corrupt self serving financial institutions, and unlike re-learning to not spend more than we can afford, with the accelerator perhaps we'll learn something we don't already know.

Kevin   September 23rd, 2008 8:06 pm ET

By the way, it doesn't make any difference how much money is spent on any engineering project – something will always break, especially during early operation, not to mention the fact that there is only a single copy of this machine/instrument. So, anyone out there who is complaining because it "just should work" with regards to its high cost, perhaps you should take at least ONE engineering course in your life and stop sounding like such an English major. Whether or not the outcome is valuable, only the ignorant would espouse a lack of value in knowledge about the origins and/or nature of our universe. Other useless physics discoveries and theories (no immediately recognized application): lasers, nuclear magnetic resonance, x-rays, etc.

Gary   September 23rd, 2008 10:38 pm ET

How much money is wasted on useless wars?
How much money is spent on other research with no complaints?
How much money does religion collect/waste a year?
How much does a new model car cost for the Company to research/develop just so that it can be put on the road and cause pollution.

All these people complaining about the cost of this need to do a bit of a reality check. This is no different from any other research yet I don't see all you do-gooders complaining about that.

john   September 23rd, 2008 10:38 pm ET

Remember the Hubble? Launched with a bad mirror. After all the jokes, hand ringing and finger pointing was over the telescope was fixed and the research began. Devices such as these are one of a kind endeavors that push the limits of science and engineering, there are going to be setbacks. We can whine about it or just roll up our sleeves and get to work. In the end this device may unlock the path to multitude of new technologies. Basic research is always a gamble that has historically paid dividends far beyond the initial investment

Will   September 23rd, 2008 10:57 pm ET

I'm not a religious fanatic or anything but, I am curious about something. If they are colliding the same size particles as the particles that stared... the universe and at the same speeds, is it to far fetched to believe that colliding these particles will cause a world wide disaster?

John   September 23rd, 2008 11:02 pm ET

Particle physics at those energies has no practical benefits for mankind. At best, it will answer some interesting but ultimately useless questions and create even more questions. Press and publicists have given it a romantic angle, but it's science as usual at high energies. And high energy physics basically is nothing but academic at this point. Ask yourselves, what has the discovery of the top quark, for instance, done for mankind? We, and I mean scientists, should smarten up and spend money and resources for worthy causes like medical research. It's irresponsible to waste so much when there are so many ways humanity can actually benefit from better allocation of funds and brains.

Zekemoab   September 23rd, 2008 11:44 pm ET

My brain might be a little hazy, but I remember this idea was being built in the US a several years ago. Was it in Texas? And government stepped in and put a halt to th whole thing. They said lets build a space lab and use shuttles to carry crew and material. We can't find a military use for a high speed circular race track.

Boy did this sour me on government oversite... Now don't get me wrong I love a challenge Quantum Physics is part of this program.
Solids still have space between atoms. And at what point does an atom loose a charge to pass through a solid.

But really, if this does not work and we start a runaway black hole.
What's a little population pruning........

Franko   September 24th, 2008 12:17 am ET

World economy = $50.4 trillion (US = $12.25 trillion or 24.3 %)
Collider = 8 billion (0.015% ^) (US = $0.531 billion or 7.9 % )

US contributes 30% of it's share, where ranks on corruption scale ?
"World Corruption costs more than $1.5 trillion a year"

stan   September 24th, 2008 12:30 am ET


While I approve of spending the money to build the LHC you need to keep something in mind – it's not unreasonable to weight the odds of practical scientific discovery against the cost of a project. Whats the ODDS that the LHC will give us the next laser, www, or x ray? not very likely I'd wager. That doesnt mean all science should be dictated by it's potential for profit IMHO – but it's not a totally unreasonable position to say that it should.


the LHC will not be using particles anywhere near the energy involved in the big bang. in the precious few instances after the big bang a single particle could possess the energy equivalent of a million galaxies! the LHC will accelerate particles so that they have energies seemingly huge to human standards but in the larger scheme of things really arent all that big a deal.

to put it into perspective the BILLIONTH of a gram of particles will be accelerated to the point where they have the same energy as about 200 lbs of TNT. that might seem like a lot to you and I but it isnt on the cosmic scale – not even on the planetary scale. It's about the amount of energy from the sun that falls on a square yard of the surface of the sun at the equator, during a cloudless summer in about a week and a half.

Danny   September 24th, 2008 1:15 am ET

It's too bad Bush Sr. didn't have the courage to fight for the Super-Conducting Super-Collider project that was canceled in the early 90's. America would have had its own collider, and it would have been far better than this piece of crap. Instead, our politicians outsourced American ingenuity to the lazy and inept French. Hopefully they'll get their wires straight before the next strike, but what do you expect from a country that makes Renault's???

Nailson Martins - From Brazil   September 24th, 2008 2:10 am ET

Hi US Fellows!

I hope they ASAP, but things like that happens, so wait a while and see how deep is the rabbit hole!

But i guess that USD 8 bilion for a LHC is a cheap deal! i know we could make many other things with this money, but feed people is a work for each country, like China did and still doing.

Jonathan A.   September 24th, 2008 2:18 am ET

That sucks about taking so long to repair it - I just saw on how it works and what it does, the dude said it would only take a couple of weeks... 8 billion dollars is INSANE!!!!

Noah   September 24th, 2008 2:50 am ET

A project this large and this important can not be avoided. The scientific potential is astounding. Imagine a world where a soldier can be healed at the molecular level i.e. nerve endings and synapses in the brain. Where a car can be ran for the life of you and your generations to come off of one atom of dark matter. Where nucleur, coal, wind, and hydro power are made obsolete by clean and effiecent devices powered by some previously unknown process. A world where the air is clear again and smog free. It all sounds like something you see off of star trek, but it is that thought process that has fueled the leaps and bounds in technology and the american life style.

As for the religous side... those with faith should always know that no matter what they will always have that very thing...Faith. This one experiment will not unravel every secret of existence.

As for the Money costs, look at how much money our government has spent on waging wars in the open and in private. Look at how much money is wasted by the lobyists to get a better edge. We can all say that yes this is a HUGE amount of money that could have been spent to feed hungry children in africa or here in the US but it stands to say that there is more money being wasted else where that should be the focus of those discussions.

As for the black hole theory 🙂 I think we can be safe in knowing that the math was done by the greatest minds in the world. equipment assembly and equipment failure can be any number of variables that cause these issues...As someone else said in a post, the wright brothers also did not fly from their first design or else we would have already been flying for a long time!

Dark Wraith   September 24th, 2008 8:25 am ET

Eight billion dollars for a project that is nothing more than a proving ground shrine to the cult of quantum mechanics?

No, sir, you miss the point.

Eight billion dollars would not be spent on such a project if it were only for the purpose of studying the arcane, self-fulfulling predictions of a handful of insular academic-technology monks who want nothing more than to live their lives in a modern version of catacombs as they comtemplate that which is unseeable by the uninitiated.

Yes, you miss the point.

Eight billion dollars is spent by nations who want something far more practical. In this case, that money is being spent to learn the secrets of how to weaponize the quantum world, where unimaginable energies - destructive in unimaginable ways if harnessed properly - await as the untold benefit.

The energies from splitting and fusing atoms are nothing by comparison.

Eight billion dollars is a small price to pay for the weapons for a new century that will make the most ferocious of the last century quite meak by comparison, as has been the undeniable case in century after century.

Those quantum mechanics jockeys will have their toy.

And eventually, the nations paying for this will have theirs, too.

All while the periphery of aplogists for this project praise the unbridled beauty of pure, unsullied scientific research... at a price tag of a mere eight billion dollars.

Goodness. Such a bargain.

Nikki   September 24th, 2008 9:21 am ET

I think it is important to realize that like any "new" project, there is no real way to test that everything is lined up or working perfectly until the actual start-up begins. Many scientific experiments have run into similar problems. There wouldn't be such a "big deal" this time except all of the publicity that has surrounded this collider.

They will fix the problem and get back to the colliding the particles. I would personally rather have the problem become apparent at the beginning of their run than at the middle or the end of their run. This gives them a chance to fix the problem and doesn't have anyone second-guessing any results that were derived in the "previous" run.

Art   September 24th, 2008 11:18 am ET

2) Those who feared that the collider would create a black hole, then suck us all into it. "The depth of scientific due diligence on the project says that this is an impossibility."

A logical fallacy. It's impossible only if our knowledge of the subject is complete and perfect. If our knowledge is complete and perfect, then we don't need to do the experiments.

S Callahan   September 24th, 2008 11:32 am ET

Noah, I appreciate your view on things. Your first paragraph is the ideal of the LHC and I truely support that but getting back to earth one has to acknowlege that big buisness would not allow those realities for common man. History has shown that. This is where economics overrides science. This is another reason good pr and education is essential for the LHC.
Ellie seems to be a good PR person. Known as Ellie the Scientist-she put out a vd on utube today stating the bosom may or may not be found..yet other things will.. She goes on to further state if the bosom is not found the theory will have to change. That is keeping us 'average' persons informed.

As for us in the faith world, we are pretty secure and acknowlege where wisdom comes from. If an answer is meant to be revealed it will be.

Rudi Merom   September 24th, 2008 12:07 pm ET

Who ever think that science will ever know how the universe started deserve the “the naive reword”………….most of it is a bunch of baloney that is designed to raise money and pay salaries… anyone really thing that we ever will know how the universe started…..? If yes it is a lot of arrogance…we may invest in something more productive…..


Franko   September 24th, 2008 12:42 pm ET

Gambling at the minutest scales, with all our might, roll the dice..
Quantum statistics, mere and more unexplained results.
What lies under the quantum Stonehenge ? Not 10 commandments ?
Absolutely, 100% FathBlaspheme centain ?

Bud from Dago   September 24th, 2008 1:33 pm ET

Speaking of waste of $$s and a black hole, we could take that $8B and throw it down that "black hole" called the War on Some Drugs. It's already sucked a Trillion out of our coffers with nothing to show for it. If you want something to complain about, pick something with merit. At least we MIGHT get some good science out of the collider. We've got nothing to show for our money out of the Prohibitionist's Drug War.

Doug   September 24th, 2008 2:21 pm ET

I like how since the LHC became national news everyone, and some people that have commented on this very story, suddenly fancies themselves an expert on theoretical physics.

Ray G.   September 24th, 2008 2:26 pm ET

S. Callahan, your comments made "Ellie the Scientist" the #1 hit on YouTube. 🙂

Franko   September 24th, 2008 2:49 pm ET

Collider is 8% of 2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues = $97.06 Billion
Determined by cash flow. The Internet is for Porn (by Ellen Feiss)

Mr. Moo   September 24th, 2008 2:59 pm ET

Somthing this complex is gonna take a while to get all the bugs out. It's not starting 'till spring, not because it can't get fixed by them, but because CERN said it would not run it when it was coldest in Eroupe as to not drive up power prices. We STILL should build the SCSC (but now we don't have the cash) because even if this thinks it finds the higgs or whatever, another facility will need to verify it!

Jerry   September 24th, 2008 3:22 pm ET

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Read up on stuff folks–all the great technological successes started with a lot of breakdowns and do-overs. The LHC is in good company with things like the Apollo program, the Manhattan Project, the Panama Canal, etc. Also you'll find in your history books that some of humankind's greatest endeavors had no reasonable chance of immediate payoff. As a person who enjoys my comfortable lifestyle in the Western Hemisphere, I'm kind of glad that Ferdinand and Isabella threw away some money on a crackpot who thought he could reach China by sailing the wrong direction.

Ray G.   September 24th, 2008 3:32 pm ET

Even as a supporter, I do find it ironic that the project would be further delayed by a mandatory winter break.

Shouldn't the headline read: "Repair of Cold Break Delayed by Cold Break"

Franko   September 24th, 2008 3:53 pm ET

"We STILL should build the SCSC"
Arabs and China have the money.
Bill Gates, penance for the identity thefts, other bilionares feel guilty ?
Extra strong magnets, even beyond 40 TeV ?

S Callahan   September 24th, 2008 9:50 pm ET

Just a thought:

It just baffles me WHY someone would make negative comments about others now having an interest in thermo physics. Just months ago blogs were saying there weren't enough people interested in the Sciences/Math world. Is this an exclusive club? To me, this blog and others are mediums to entice those future bright minds.......

Ray G.   September 24th, 2008 10:24 pm ET

S. Calahan, I'm not a student of Freud but I'm guessing you were bottle fed. {Reference to comment made on Sep 24 11:32 am.}

Derek   September 24th, 2008 11:05 pm ET

Well to put it in a way that is in good taste for this community: Crap happens.

Franko   September 25th, 2008 12:12 am ET

Tim Berners-Lee "In 1989 he invented the World Wide Web, an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing while at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990. His specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined as Web technology spread"

Coming is even faster, from your CERN dollar. Even if Porn Particle not found,
We CERNtainly will have hyper fast Porn Virtual Reality.
From Porn cave drawings, to faster internet, hidden in theory, Porn Particle

dave   September 25th, 2008 12:42 pm ET

This sounds familiar – didnt they get it running back in 2008.

dave   September 25th, 2008 12:43 pm ET

This sounds familiar – didnt they get it running in 2008?

Big Dawg   September 25th, 2008 5:18 pm ET

Bottom Line: The people who are against a project like this for any reason simply do NOT comprehend in the LEAST the profound implications that even the seemingly smallest discovery in the context of subatomic matter could have. The possibilities are infinite.

Eradicating the need for fossil fuels? Discovering a way to travel the cosmos without regard for time? Uniting the theories of electro-magnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces, and gravity?

However unlikely we see these as of now, who is ANYONE to say that these are NOT possibilities?

Cars and jets today hinge upon the early discovery of simple combustion, discovered by ancient beings. It all starts somewhere.

Franko   September 25th, 2008 8:01 pm ET

"US porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC"
World porn leaders, in Billion$; China-$27 South Korea-26 Japan-$20 US-$13

China, the next space leader, not contributing, in ratio, to internet porn derived profits. Next ? China to build secret hyper collider to re-invent internet ?

Peter V.   September 25th, 2008 11:38 pm ET

Wow...people think this could cause a black hole...inpossible.Even if it did it would be too small to do any major damage or swallow the whole solar system 🙂

Franko   September 26th, 2008 1:22 pm ET

The greatest mistery, what is behind the curtain of quantum events
Conveyor belt carrying observed galaxies, beyond our cosmological horizon
But locally, smaller than any microscope can see, little energy density strings
Worms we are composed of, quantum wiggled by what ?

Kiron   September 26th, 2008 1:35 pm ET

Why do we need a collider when we are already able to create black holes using BECs?

Jason   September 26th, 2008 1:53 pm ET

They knew there were going to problems with such a massive and complex machine. This is one of probally a series of hicups before then can work out all the bugs. This is truly the age to live, we are on the verge of so many new and exciting discoveries, and breakthroughs. I just hope the human race doesnt bomb it self to extinction.

DP   September 26th, 2008 2:04 pm ET

Considering our current financial woes and the fact that the US has already contributed dollars to this complete waste of money, I hope that the US will not be contributing funds to help cover the repair bill. Priorities people, let's have some priorities.

gerald   September 26th, 2008 2:09 pm ET

This is R&D people!!! not an exact science. New frontiers and all that. Guess you all think Isabel and Ferdinand should have thrown a party instead of staking Chris. Gotta a break a few eggs people.

Wigwam Jones   September 26th, 2008 3:51 pm ET

I love science, and I don't mind money spent towards it, even tax dollars, even a lot of tax dollars.

I do not think the comparison to the Wright Brothers is meaningful. Their success / failure did not imperil the world.

From what I understand, this might. I did not say 'does' or 'will' but 'might'. And I fully understand that the chances are quite low that there is any significant danger.

But the danger is not that of a busted airplane or a twisted ankle if the scientists are wrong – the danger is absolute, and it affects us all.

If scientists are going to perform an experiment that even they do not know what the results will be, I would like a bit more assurance than a 99.99% certainty that it will not put an end to the earth.

I am not normally one for rough frontier justice, but I can imagine cheering on the mobs if the thing is turned on, the experiment done, the worst happens, and we have days or months to live before the non-Hawking Radiation-compliant black hole eats the planet.

Franko   September 27th, 2008 2:27 am ET

Stargate to and from Niburu, ready for 2012. All the delights of Babylon, Roman Empire, preserved, extended. Have your choice, Earthly vices, or the real good stuff ?

DJ   September 27th, 2008 9:16 am ET

@Wigwam Jones Sep. 26th 3:51pm

the odds have been made public as a 1 in 6000000 chance (this is a much higher probability than I would seriously consider). That is significantly less than the 0.01% chance you posted of the danger.... closer to 0.000017% probability, which makes it statistically just about impossible on a universal scale, let alone a scale as small as the LHC.

As far as the subject of the blog. I agree the financial expense is truly insignificant in light of the potential for discovery and understanding which could lead to human progress. Those who pine for money to be spent on this or that worthy causes are pining in the wrong place. Lobby for funding, research is important to all sciences and there is no reason to belittle physics research.

johnell deloach   September 27th, 2008 9:23 pm ET

i think that this stupid 8 billion dollars could have went to help something more important

Franko   September 29th, 2008 12:49 am ET

If the Wall Street advisors and their supersized bonuses, were not governmeent bailed out. We could have had around the Earth collider commuting

dn   September 30th, 2008 11:12 am ET

8 billion spent on a device that yields nothing more than answers to interesting questions is dumb. can we apply that knowledge toward making life better for mankind? if by "making life better" we just mean easing the stress for some elementary particle physicists...then sure. if by "making life better" we mean funding advancements in applied technology that can directly help the masses...then no.

unfortunately they've already spent tons building the silly thing. so fix it up...and if it breaks again...scrap it and start funding useful research. last time i checked...understanding ultra high energy state particles doesn't cure cancer.

angel ocasio   September 30th, 2008 11:44 am ET

peter, I feared that if the economy collapsed into a major depression,however, this partnership would be guickly stripped of its american half, and a united europe transformed into the worlds next nuclear superpower by taking over control of u.s. nuclear asset on german soil, added to france;s existing nuclear capability.

Rosemary Sanders   October 1st, 2008 4:11 pm ET

Broken? I'm skeptical about that. Cautious, maybe, considering that after it's public debut there were four earthquakes all above 6.0 with in the first 24 hours of it's activation. Coincedence? Maybe not.

ONeill Dell   February 6th, 2010 2:22 am ET

Happy for such a wonderfull display of intelligence and opinios from so many of the repondents {gratefull they are out there } and-some would be great writers for J LENO.

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i love huge party balloons specially during special occassions*:`

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