Appearing for the first three hours, NYU Professor and science writer Charles Seife discussed the implications of the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments, as well as his forthcoming book Sun in a Bottle about fusion energy. Completed at a cost of $6 billion, the particle accelerator complex at CERN was built to a remarkable scale, with a 17-mile underground tunnel.There's a remote theoretical possibility very close to 0% that the upcoming experiment to recreate conditions around the time of the Big Bang could lead to havoc or the destruction of Earth, Seife commented.
The LHC tests may reveal the presence of the Higgs boson, a heretofore theoretical particle, which could explain how mass and gravity work. A huge amount of energy has to be created in order to spot the particle, he explained. If the LHC creates a black hole, it may mean that we're reaching into another dimension-- something we've never had access to before, Seife noted, calling CERN the new frontier. One of the other planned experiments there will look at matter and antimatter.
In Seife's latest work, looking into the history and struggle to harness fusion energy, he found a series of failed scientific efforts spanning decades. Fission, he suggested, is a better short term solution for energy needs.
Bumper music from Wednesday September 10, 2008