The Big Think

September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Jason! Here’s a Box of Armageddon

Filed under: Education,Mad Science,Science — jasony @ 3:26 pm

So, the universe (or maybe just planet Earth) is going to end on my birthday. This wednesday, Sept 10, the Large Hadron Collider is set to go online. It will fire up and, depending on who you believe, it will either usher in a new era of high energy physics and radically deepen our understanding of the universe, or blast us into a sticky, gluon-ey blob of recrimination-laced regret.

According to scientists (you know, the folks who are able to build this magnificent machine to such ridiculous tolerances), there is an astronomically small chance (.00000000000001 in, technically, Hell) that Something Bad might happen. Of course, luddite critics are screaming that they need to dismantle the thing because even That Is Too Big Of A Chance. They’ve even taken to making anonymous death threats to get the experiments stopped. Actual I-will-come-over-there-and-kill-you death threats. Against scientists. In white coats. With pocket protectors. Thus illustrating just how far down the path of lunacy our culture has tumbled. How moronically gullible the average Joe has become. How….geaaaargh (five minute paroxysm of teeth-grinding, hair-pulling frustration ensues. We apologize for the interruption).

Okay, knuckleheads. You neanderthalic thinkers in a modern age. You utter waste of educational resources, paper-thin roadblocks on the road of progress- here it is in tiny words, so pull your finger out of your nose and pay attention. The LHC is designed to smash particles together and create new ones. Then we study the new particles and see what we can learn. You say it’s dangerous, but- and here’s what’s called the “crux” of my position- particles with this same energy are constantly smacking into the atmosphere of earth billions- trillions- of times per second. The Universe is already doing the very same experiments just 100 miles above your flat stupid head. And in the Sun. And in every star in the universe. And much of the space in between all of that.

Part of the reason that we have to build the thing here is that it’s a lot easier to study the particles when you’re 40 meters underground than it is to hang out of a high altitude balloon with a spacesuit and a geiger counter. Of course, if we could build the thing on the far side of OZ these nattering nabobs of negativity would still claim it’s too close.

To say that doing it here on Earth puts us in jeopardy of instant annihilation makes you look like a bigger hayseed than the first guy to chuck a match down an outhouse hole and peek in to see the results. That a not-insignificant fraction of your listeners stops to give it more than two seconds of thought without collapsing into hysterical giggling says more about the state of education and general scientific intelligence than I can even begin to cope with. And I’m a flipping musician. WHO READS.

“But what if you’re wrong?” they wail. Well then, I’ll apologize to you on thursday.

Now step aside or I swear to you Zombie Isaac Newton will crawl out of his grave and hit you with a hammer.

That is all.


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:25 pm

“…Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard: and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke within them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves…”

JRR Tolkien, on Sauraman’s Voice

Seems appropriate

Bow to the Story

Filed under: Audio,Movies — jasony @ 7:39 am

urgh… there are so many wonderful clips that I want to use in the military video. So many incredible stories and amazing conversations. It’s maddening and a little upsetting that the video only has time for so much.

My cutting room floor is littered with the outpourings of grateful hearts.

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