Mostly Bollogs, I'm afraid

But occasionally, a glimmer of truth.
If you find one, please let me know.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


I'm quite interested in science. Quite interested; that means I like the pretty bits and the noisy bits. I'm fairly disinterested in the maths behind it all because my brain is far too feeble to start taking that lot in as well.

I think that knowing something about science helps to put things in perspective. Professor Stephen Hawkin puts forward some very sneaky stuff in his books, my favorite of those being the Brief History of Time.

Hawkin's small volume explains in some detail (without the dull bits) about particles and waves and black holes and dimensions and string theory and everything else, really. It even tells of God (but you have to read to the end).

There is a very interesting hypothesis in it, the name of which I can't remember, but basically it says that owing to the universe's expansion, the cleverer man gets at finding out about stuff, the further away it sneaks. Hawkin said that better than I did, so read the book if you haven't already.

So, if we had invented the astronomical space-mounted super-duper radioscope 100 years ago, we could possibly have collected information telling us how the universe (that's a word meaning everything) started from a bubble of nothing (that's the opposite of everything, nothing, a perfect vacuum, fuck all) about the size of a penny. It might have told us where the penny came from, too, that one has always eluded me. Or how nothing can be the size of anything. But, unluckily for us, and luckily for God, we only just invented the superscope and the bit we wanted to look at has snuck away just in time, to stop us knowing the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Fascinating. And what is even more sneaky is that the further away the expanded bit of universe gets, the faster it goes away. So fat, in fact, that the rules don't apply any more; the bit of universe farthest away from us but that we know exists is moving away at around twice the speed of light, and there is no reason to believe that as it gets further away still the faster it goes still, ad infinitum. It might beg the question "Did God had to change the rules as He went along?"

That boggles my mind - I don't know about yours.

So, yes, I am very interested in science.

But then it gets out of hand. Someone has decided to make a hole the size of Kent under half of Switzerland and a few other places. They have then diverted the efforts of a great many scientists in building a machine which, if you chuck particles round it fast enough (only around 185,000 miles a second though, not properly fast like the edges of the universe) and bang them into each other, might reveal another particle, a boson, which might give a clue to what happened millions and millions and millions of years ago, when the penny went BANG!

But then again, it might not.

If it does, it will be the next step in yet another journey at the end of which we may find that the goalposts have moved again. If, eventually, they can wallop the particles around accelerated to an energy of 14 TeV (Tera Electron-volts, or 14,000,000,000,000 Electron-volts) which sounds very impressive but is around the energy of motion of the fly buzzing round your head, a special kind of boson, called the Higgs boson (named after a bloke called Higgs), which will make another equation possible, then the rest of science can carry on looking for the next piece of the jigsaw.

Maybe. Not very likely.

Now, were this shebang, including scientists, money and effort, to be channelled into finding a cure for cancer, or to aid the starving in Africa, or something, I could see the point. But for this, I cannot.

And that boggles my mind, too.


hunkofjunk said...

Frankly, I find the whole thing rather spooky. The only thing that gives me any confidence that I'll see Friday is the fact that they keep breaking it.

You could of course take the view that if it keeps hundreds of mad loony scientists off the streets then it's money well spent but broadly, I agree. It's an awfy lot of money to spend massaging the ego's of pointy heads when there are so many other pressing issues in the world.

Do you think they could invent a thing that I could point at Mrs Flashbang and put her on temporary mute? A taser seems a bit radical.

John Pickworth said...

Silly fuckers.... no really.

I built one of these machines back in the 1970's. Obviously they wouldn't let me build it under Switzerland and what with it being a school night 'n' all; I settled upon my alternative second location under my bed (which luckily I owned the freehold).

The prototype was constructed out of Lego which a man from the ministry duly approved. Well I say approved, he left laughing his socks off but a few weeks later the MOD/American's sited some Thor nuclear missiles down the road so clearly they realised my work was of great national importance.

Anyway two weeks later, Suzi Quattro One the world's first large hadron colider (although we called them Whizz-bang smashing machines back then) was constructed out of Meccano, a Chipper cycle (what you got for christmas if your parents couldn't afford a Chopper) and an old bendix twin tube.

Did I find the Higgs boson? Yes. Yes I did.

Unfortunately, these Higgs things don't survive for very long. In fact mine lasted about a fortnight before my sister knocked it down behind a chest of draws. Hopefully those chaps at CERN might be able to find it again? Description: Very very small, purpleish and sort of fluffy. You can't miss it fellas.