From various sources in the science blogotopia, we learn that the LHC has been started for the first time! For those unfamiliar, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is designed to be the world’s largest particle accelerator, which will probe the frontiers of known physics in search of a greater understanding of the fundamental forces of nature.
I don’t have a lot to say on the start up of the LHC itself, other than the fact that it’s very exciting (I did undergraduate and graduate work in high-energy physics, so I have a bias). I can’t resist, however, pointing out CNN’s initial lede on the subject:
Scientists applauded as one of the most ambitious experiments ever conceived began today. The Large Hadron Collider — designed to simulate conditions of the Big Bang — was switched on this morning. Skeptics claim the experiment could create a black hole capable of swallowing the Earth.
Emphasis mine. This is highly misleading, as the ‘skeptics’ in question to the best of my knowledge have no scientific experience and are contradicted by every reputable scientist on the planet. The structure of the story has changed since I first read it, but it still highlights the concerns of the ‘skeptics’. Just for fun, let’s look at what some other CNN ledes might look like if given similar skeptical counterbalance:
Concerning Hurricane Ike:
Residents along part of the Texas Gulf Coast have been told to leave Wednesday morning after Hurricane Ike left Cuba and began to gain strength in the warm Gulf of Mexico. Skeptics scoff at the notion that the hurricane will do significant damage, and suggest that its cleansing rains will wash away all the bad mojo in the region.
Concerning Lehman Brothers suffering a $4 billion loss:
Lehman Brothers suffered one of its worst quarterly losses in the company’s history, reporting a loss of nearly $4 billion Wednesday, and announced a series of drastic steps aimed at reviving the beleaguered firm. Skeptics deny the loss of the money: “How could $4 billion dollars just disappear!!1??”
Concerning an earthquake which hit southern Iran:
A strong earthquake measured at magnitude 6.1 Wednesday demolished nearly 200 villages in Iran, leaving at least one person dead, local media reported. A skeptic says: “Aaahh!!! Spiders!!! All over me!!! Can’t you see them!!?? Get ’em off!!!”