Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Large Hadron Update

More news on the Large Hadron Collider, this could yield some pretty remarkable results though I think people should be thinking years not months. Though the scientists claim we should see some results before the end of the calendar year...

Note the rap song about the Large Hadron Collider at the top of the news link above. Yes, you read that right. A rap song about the world's largest particle accelerator.

Here are fun facts about the LHC. Of particular enjoyment: "Part of the LHC will be the world's largest fridge. It could hold 150 000 fridge full of sausages at a temperature colder than deep outer space."

The cost for this device is $5 billion and 14 years. There are two ways to look at this:

1) Given the choice of this funding returning to the private sector (and I'm assuming a goodly chunk of the money raised was public funds, there aren't a lot of specifics at the site itself), clearly I'm partial to keeping the money in the hands of whoever earned it. I'm also not convinced that $5 billion of knowledge-- however that calculation could come out-- will come from this device. We could understand the universe better, which is fine, but a hazy, subjective, and easily overstated end, not unlike the issue of traveling to Mars.

2) Given that this money has already been taken and must be spent on something, I feel that science isn't a bad place for the money to go. There are benefits (gross, not net) from research. At least it's not aid and getting in the way of functioning economies, nor a public provision of goods infiltrating an established market.

4 comments:

Rob said...

I'm also not convinced that $5 billion of knowledge

Rawlings said...

Ugh. My last comment didn't work. It seems to be lost.

Anyway, knowledge is hard to quantify, but in this case I don't think it would be too hard to find at least $5 billion dollars in potential utility. Whatever particles are discovered are likely to lead to other breakthroughs. These breakthroughs would only have to lead to something with $.75 utility to each person on earth.

I figure, if government is going to steal my money then I would rather it be put to good use.

Iraq war: $580 billion to date
Hadron collider: $5 billion

I'll bet the collider is the better investment.

rawlings said...

well.... It looks like I totally agreed with your second point there. I guess we're on the same page.

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