Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Armageddon Competition is ON!

Late last year, I wrote (as did many others who are much less sarcastic and critical of the project) about CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which was meant to smash tiny atoms against one another at never-before-reached speeds, producing the Higgs-Boson particle, gaining greater insight into the formation and makeup of the universe.
However, there is a small chance, some scientists argued, that the LHC will produce a black hole. There is also a small chance, some of those scientists argued, that the black hole will then consume the Earth.
I joked that fortunately the LHC broke before it could smash any particles, and our Singularity-imposed doom was delayed.
Many people wondered if the United States had fallen behind in the international technological prowess race, as we did not have anything that was nearly as powerful as the LHC.

Well, fear no more! Today the DOE is expected to certify Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's new "Super Laser", a $3.5 billion device that will concentrate 192 not-quite-super lasers into a single point the size of a pencil eraser. At that point, scientists expect to see energy levels on the same order of magnitude as the sun, giving them insight into fusion. Some scientists, however, are skeptical, claiming that a sustained fusion reaction would be uncontrollable, and would consume everything around it.

Super-expensive, possibly-apocalyptic devices are going from oddity to trend very fast, and eventually someone will build one that actually can destroy the Earth.


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