Sunday, 13 September 2009


Well, it's official. The Large Hadron Collider, like so many other things, is not going to cause the world to end. That's nice. Instead researchers have tried to calculate how long it would take to defrost a pizza. I have to say that as a keen amateur cook myself there are possibly better methods of reheating a frozen thin crust Neapolitan with extra pepperoni than sticking it in the beam path of the world's largest particle accelerator. On the other hand it's probably very easy to get peckish whilst watching the particle counters tick over and the canteen is closed.

Yes, yes. I know it's only one of those comparison studies to say that this is the actual amount of energy this thing will generate; so how the hell can the machine in question create a world destroying gravitational singularity or 'black hole'? Still conjures up Pratchetesque visions of Ponder Stibbons like figures falling asleep face down in a Banana and Sardine Klatchian special with extra hots while the Universe threatens to implode around him.

Rather makes the people who filed the lawsuit trying to halt the switching on of said machine rather foolish. As does the silly teenager who 'didn't want to die a virgin' because she thought the world was going to end when the LHC was switched on. Sheesh.

There's far too much bad journalism that goes on with regards to reporting scientific achievement. No one seems to do, or have the scientific background for, any proper fact checking any more. Same for all this global warming malarkey. 'Polar bears' could be extinct in seventy years, Ice caps could melt, sea levels might rise and turn the world into a low budget Waterworld. The barrage of mainstream misinformation is staggering. The public protest (Read any unmoderated comments section on any climate change related article) but are seemingly ignored while a vociferous minority of 'believers' hold sway on the issue. Ever more ridiculous schemes are mooted for 'climate control' while the raw data indicates that there is no real anthropogenically enhanced trend at all.

We aren't doomed. I appreciate that this may be a severe blow to those who choose to believe that technology is bad (mainly because they are too impatient / stupid / whatever to understand it) and that 'heretics' should all be severely spanked (Ooh rather matron, careful with that riding crop) and sent to bed early for even thinking that climatic apocalypse is not imminent, yet I can't help thinking that all this craziness comes from somewhere in the human psyche. People want certainty, and the 'end of the world' hullabaloo provides that certainty. It allows a sense of definitiveness that is sadly lacking in our uncertain world. It says; "Hey! Become part of the 'climate change' gang and you will be saved!" type of grouping. Rather reminds me of an archetypal Christian revivalist meeting mentality. "Believe in Jesus and you will be saved from sin!" In this way, bad science reporting panders to that base facet of human thinking. It cries wolf to draw attention to itself, but as for the 'end of the world' prognostications, ask yourself this; when even the Jehovah's Witnesses have given up making them, you know it's time to relax, pour yourself a large drink and enjoy the sunshine. Whilst it is warm enough to do so.

Notwithstanding, all this crying wolf will not do humanity one speck of good when a real crisis comes along. It'll be something like a fleet of Vogon Constructor ships come to demolish the Earth to make way for a new Hyperspace bypass; completely out of left field, and just enough time to have a last couple of stiff drinks with friends before the Universe goes 'foom'. Ever since I was a boy I've heard story after story about how we're all doomed and we're all a gonna die. The most credible of which were during the Cold War when nuclear Armageddon did come a little too close for comfort. The threat is still there, but nothing quite as imminent as it was. For that little comfort, let us all be grateful. Al Quaeda and their pointless suicide bombings are a mere inconvenience by comparison.

There are more important things to do. The sun is shining, and there's fishing to be done. Even if I don't catch anything; but that's not the point is it?

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails