TED 2008: Brian Cox of Large Hadron Collider at CERN

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19 Responses to “TED 2008: Brian Cox of Large Hadron Collider at CERN”

  1. roytruax says:

    Wasn’t that guy in the Bay City Rollers?

  2. theophrastus says:

    …wait, it’s a guy?
    (and who is “Presenter: Brain Cox”? sounds like a fake porno name at Stanford)

  3. Dilapidus says:

    #12 (Tom)

    Then you and I are largely in agreement as to what is known versus what is postulated. My thinking is that this statement,

    “We know universe beAgn[SP] 13.7 billion years ago as a dot smaller than an atom. Universe underwent exponential expansion in a billionth of a second and continues to expand. AFter 400 million years, the first stars formed and other elements were cooked in them…”

    Is indeed incautious and it blurs that speculation line. However, I meant, and I hope I conveyed, only the slightest complaint on the topic and even that was only because I get so tired of lay readers dismissing an entire statement because of this particular use of the word ‘know’.

    It’s all good.

  4. Dilapidus says:

    A bit incautious use of the word know.

    We postulate the big bang by extrapolating from the fact that the universe appears to be expanding. We find data that fits the theory, or we change the theory to accomodate a changing set of physical laws . (Since current physical law doesn’t account for the ability of a single point to contain all of the matter and energy in the universe)

    Anyway.. just picking nits. Very exciting to see Cern firing up… I’ll look forward to the lights dimming :-)

  5. Dilapidus says:

    A bit incautious use of the word know.

    We postulate the big bang by extrapolating from the fact that the universe appears to be expanding. We find data that fits the theory, or we change the theory to accomodate a changing set of physical laws . (Since current physical law doesn’t account for the ability of a single point to contain all of the matter and energy in the universe)

    Anyway.. just picking nits. Very exciting to see Cern firing up… I’ll look forward to the lights dimming :-)

  6. Takuan says:

    just discover the damned slood already

  7. Dilapidus says:

    Sorry for the dupe.. lesson learned

  8. apollo18 says:

    Anyone wanting more of Brian can see him at the (free!) Conference on World Affairs in April at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    Mad props to The Bad Astronomer for getting Brian to come to this.

  9. Antinous says:

    And he does this when he’s not working as a model?

  10. Tom says:

    Nothing incautious about using “know” that way at all. It’s perfectly ordinary to say we know things that are at the somewhat tentative end of a rather long chain of inference. We know about the Big Bang in exactly the same way you know your car is where you left it.

    As there is no certain knowledge, to know something can’t mean to be certain about it. It’s usually understood to mean “things we agree are way more certain than any of the alternatives we’ve been able to come up with so far.” There’s no exact cut-off point when a proposition becomes so plausible that it suddenly becomes “knowledge”, any more than there’s an exact cut-off point between the ocean and the land, particularly when the water is rough. But we still have no problem telling when we’re at risk of drowning.

    Fortunately, kinda-sorta-certain knowledge is all we need to deal effectively with the world and each other.

  11. midsentence says:

    Before colliding particles, did Brian happen to sing for Suede?

  12. wakka says:

    No, but he apparently played keyboards in a band called “D:Ream”… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Cox_(physicist)

  13. Dilapidus says:

    #7

    Respectfully continuing to pick the nit, I know that my car will be there because we have proven laws of physics that say it will and mountains of evidence to verify the predictions. I am not forced to postulate changes to the laws to determine if it is still there.

    I argue that knowledge is not the thing at the somewhat tentative end of a long chain of inference.

    I don’t have a better theory, mind you.

  14. travelina says:

    Really, really ridiculously good-looking photos of the Large Hadron Collider on the Nat Geo site:
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/god-particle/ginter-photography.html

  15. Tom says:

    @10: I understand your concern, and perhaps some clarification of what I’m arguing for will help.

    It is a good deal more certain that the universe (as we know it) came into being about 13.7 billion years ago than that your car is not where you left it. Someone might have stolen your car, or your spouse or one of your kids might have moved it. These things are not all that improbable. Whereas the amount of stuff we’d have to wrong about for the universe not to be about 13.7 billion years old is a simply huge.

    No modification of the laws of physics is required for the universe in the past to have been very hot and very dense, which is what I and most physicists mean by the Big Bang. We are very certain that about 13.7 billion years ago the universe was hot and dense enough that the temperature of matter was literally above the boiling point of atomic nuclei. Calculations based on this give us excellent quantitative agreement with the observed abundances of light elements, which were mostly formed during the Big Bang.

    Now, there are people who want to claim that the Big Bang was a true singularity: a point of infinite temperature and density. Most of us find that… implausible. We’re fairly confident that quantum fluctuations will smooth things out, or that bangs follow crunches, so there was a limit to compression, or something. If that’s what you mean by requiring the laws of physics to change, then fair enough, although not all such scenarios actually do require such changes. We just don’t know.

    But all that says is: there are things we don’t know. We don’t know how it can be that our universe got itself into that extremely hot, dense state. But I would argue that our ignorance on this matter does not significantly change the level of certainty we have that the universe was once extremely hot and dense.

  16. Jeff says:

    As some particle astrophysicists (new title) have theorized, the BB was not a true Singularity, but an aneurism: Our universe budded off another one and is part of the multiverse foam. Now, let’s figure out gravity and see what happens next(quantum gravity, not Newtonian).

  17. substraight says:

    yep, the protons are a actually accelerated to 99.99999999% (that’s eight nines after the decimal) the speed of light- but I’m not trying any particle physics calculations at home, that’s for sure!

  18. Gilbert Wham says:

    That’s all very well, but when are they going to finish my warp-drive, dammit?

  19. Takuan says:

    I hope they’ve rigged a sound effect for when they fire it up. Maybe a “SQUINK!!” for the first collisions?

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