Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Cowries, Tanks and the LHC
I have a deep and abiding love for ancient history, art, theology and a few varieties of science. Mostly types of physics, but also some oddball things like crytozoology. I can sit and watch or read about these things for hours on end. I also get fixated on silly little things. It's almost like a glitch in my brain.
Ever since I saw my first tiger cowrie shell as a child I was fascinated. When I see one I have a very strong compulsion to buy it. Luckily they never cost more than about two dollars so at least it's an inexpensive obsession. As a result they are all over my house. I gathered a few of them up and took the pic above because I am also obssessed with my new camera, but there are more. There is something very comforting about them. I don't know why, I don't particularly care for the ocean because deep water and all the things living in it kind of freak me out. Nor do I know why that type of shell attracts me more than any other.
A while back I got it into my head that I wanted a white tank top because the one I had was worn out. Somehow it turned into buying every good white tank top I saw until I finally realized I couldn't fit any more of them into my white tank top drawer. Yes...I really have a drawer devoted solely to those. But lets not delve into my closet shall we. It's enough to strike terror into the faint of heart.
I have noticed that scientists get really obsessed over things too, especially theoretical scientists. I can understand that, I have had a few theories of my own that I got a little nuts with wanting to prove. Sadly the nature of theories is that they can't be proved while they are in the theoretical stage. Many theories stay in that stage for a very long time until a new theory arises that makes more sense. Sometimes they stick around so long that people start accepting them as fact.
So tonight I was watching a show on the LHC (Large Hadron Collider if you don't know what LHC stands for.) This is a project I have been familiar with for a very long time. In fact I first heard about it's conception back in the 80's when I was working at Boeing Aerospace on the Peace Keepers. That was my side job while I was kick starting my bear business. I know it's odd, but if you read my blog regularily nothing should surprise you by now.
While I would dearly love to have my own little particle accelerator to play with, I have never been on board with the LHC project. Not because of the potential black hole hype, and not even because of that pesky little quinch problem...but because one of the main driving forces behind the project is to create a mini big bang. I have a huge problem with people trying to recreate something that is in fact theoretical. The big bang is not a proven theory, there are other theories and I for one just don't buy it. I always come back to the same question...what was the catalyst? I know the short answer is all those little particles became over heated and went kaboom, but what overheated them? Still back to the catalyst. It's a question that no one can answer definitively. I am still in favor of static membranes in string theory, but I digress.
Another thing they hope to create and study is dark matter. Don't even get me started on that. At any rate I was watching these scientists in their glazed eyed zeal and pondering this whole thing. They touted that the vast amounts of radiation the machine gives off isn't harmful since it's in a tunnel deep underground. I realized they were fixated on proving their theories. They were taking comfort from their tunnel, shiny machine and even shinier theories. But they didn't stop to ask should we...as usual they only asked could we. Sometimes I think we have far more to fear from scientists than anything else. Maybe they should just switch their fixation to tiger cowrie shells. They are cheaper and they don't harm anything in the process since the innocent creatures living in them die before they wash up on the beach...no quinch involved.