From the Editor, Bang Bang

Scientists are about to recreate the big bang in a cave in the Swiss mountains by constructing the largest scientific instrument ever built.

I didn't have a clue that the apparent beginning of time was about to happen again.

Not until I happened to pick up The Weekly Guardian, a British publication.

Then I found out, and I quote, "At security posts dotted around the fields between the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva scientists are installing hi-tech retina scans above shafts descending 80m down, leading to the largest scientific instrument ever built."

Ian Sample reports in the Dec. 1-7 issue of The Guardian Weekly, a British publication, that a hunt has begun for "the God particle" and describes the collider that is "ready to recreate the big bang.

"The machine is being bolted together inside a tunnel 27 km long, and when the power is thrown on next year it will recreate conditions unknown for 14 bn years since the extraordinary fireball that marked the beginning of the universe---the big bang that blasted time and space into existence."

Today's Vancouver Sun headlines the selection of jurors in the Robert (Willie) Pickton murder trial. The leading story on the Toronto Globe's online site is "BlackBerry Pearl now vailable in New Zealand."

Excuse me but did anybody in North America mention that in Europe they're recreating the big bang?

Sample goes on to say that the machine, the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, Europe's particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, was commissioned as an $8bn "sledgehammer to crack some of the most compelling mysteries of the universe. Britain's stake in the project is enormous. This year alone $150m will be channelled into the experiment, where 600 British physicists are based."

The project may prise open extra dimensions, Sample writes, and create "baby black holes; it may reveal enigmatic "dark energy" that drives the expansion of the universe. It should certainly discover what some call the "God particle", finally answering the embarrassingly simple but elusive question of why things have mass."

He goes on to quote Robert Aylmar, the head of Cern. "You should not deduce that we are ready to build a black hole and Cern, along with the planet, will disappear, although this is a letter I receive every week."

Uh, okay. At least we'll still have Switzerland. I think.

Sample says valuable spin-offs from past research include the world wide web and the most advanced medical scanners found in hospitals.

He quotes a professor Engelen, who works on the project, saying Engelen admits that there is "no practical benefit in the experiment."

But here's the clincher: "Even in my wildest imagination I can't think of this discovery having a practical application," the professor says.

Oh, really?

I find that hard to believe.

When I hear "bang," and "billions," I think "bomb."

Some of the scientists on the project believe the universe has more dimensions than the ones we know about.

Maybe that includes a dimension to human nature. One can only hope.
by Linda Solomon

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