Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider

On 21st October the Large Hadron Collider will be unveiled in Switzerland. It will be the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Through colliding sub-atomic particles at energies never before achieved, scientists are hoping to make breakthroughs in their understanding of the fundamental nature of matter.

From Wiki: ‘When activated, it is theorized that the collider will produce the elusive Higgs boson, the observation of which could confirm the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model of physics and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass. The verification of the existence of the Higgs boson would be a significant step in the search for a Grand Unified Theory, which seeks to unify three of the four known fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force, leaving out only gravity. The Higgs boson may also help to explain why gravitation is so weak compared to the other three forces. In addition to the Higgs boson, other theorized particles, models and states might be produced, and for some searches are planned, including supersymmetric particles, compositeness (technicolor), extra dimensions, strangelets, micro black holes and magnetic monopoles.’

The LHC is being commissioned just as the Saturn-Uranus opposition starts to become exact (4th November). Good timing! Saturn-Uranus is associated, amongst other things, with scientific/technological breakthroughs: Uranus gives the brilliant ideas, and Saturn the impulse to give them concrete form. It is hard to imagine that the LHC won’t produce breakthroughs.

Approval for the project was given in 1994, just as Pluto entered Sagittarius. Construction began 4 years later, within a 27 kilometer underground tunnel on the Swiss-French border. It is an enormous project, and has involved thousands of scientists. Now, with Pluto in its final months in Sagittarius, it is about to bear fruit. It will give us the power (Pluto) to further our understanding of the universe (Sagittarius).

On 21st October there will be a Void Moon between approx 1pm and 4pm GMT, so they would be advised not to have the opening ceremony then. Events beginning under a Void Moon have a way of not bearing fruit, like the first voyage of the Titanic and the Tibetan protests against the Chinese.

Another Pluto in Sag project is ITER, which is an international attempt to create a nuclear fusion reactor. Formal agreement to build the reactor occurred on 21 Nov 2006. Pluto was in Sag trine to Saturn, which is nice for the project actually happening. The Moon was in Sag, and crossed the nuclear axis on that day. And the Sun was conjunct Jupiter. So plenty of expansive Jupiterian/Sagittarian energy. The idea is to produce 500MW of energy through a sustained reaction of up to 1000 seconds. If they pull this one off (and construction alone is expected to take 10 years), then it opens up a future of much safer nuclear power, and a lot more of it, with virtually no radioactive waste.

I long for the world to operate in a simpler and more sustainable way, that brings us back to the basics of life, and reconnects us to the natural world. (I have Virgo Rising). At the same time I am thrilled by futuristic technological advance. (I have Aquarius Sun). I like reading space operas set in the far future. (I've just read Peter Hamilton's 'The Reality Disfunction'). I think that genetic engineering as applied to people could create some fantastic advances – elimination of inherited diseases and disorders, whether physical or mental, for example. Most people I know do not share my enthusiasm! They tend instead to be horrified by GM or nuclear fusion. There are, of course, horror scenarios which many scientific advances have brought and will continue to bring. But I think it is hard to argue that scientific advance has overall made the world a worse place, and that major branches of research should therefore be stopped. In any case, it's going to happen anyway, and I'm not going to spend my life opposing the inevitable.

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