Friday, March 26, 2010

large human collider

I love the news feature by Zeeya Merali in the current issue of Nature, The Large Human Collider (even though I thought of this title first, used it for our home-built ice rink, back in January!).

The author describes how, at the Large Hadron Collider, "sociologists, anthropologists, historians and philosophers have been visiting CERN to see just how these densely packed physicists collide, ricochet, and sometimes explode." One of the social social scientists interviewed said she went there to observe "the language, taboos, and rituals of this exotic community."

The basic idea is that at just under 3000 participating scientists for the ATLAS detector alone, the community seems to have passed a critical size to qualify as a culture in its own right (though social scientists have also looked at the previous, smaller collaborations). Also, considering the cost of the LHC operation, the 20 or so social scientists that observe the physicists are practically free (and funded by different research councils, anyway).

Now that makes me think, what if the whole thing isn't really about the physics, and someone has just tricked the physicists into it, in order to conduct an experiment analysing the collision of human minds? I'm sure there is a viable plot for a Dr Who episode in there somewhere.

1 comment:

Pearl said...

Hi Michael :)

I have left you something on my blog, please go and claim it!

Hope all's well!

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