This may be the biggest thing since the way the Internet changed our understanding of the power of science. A Herald article describes it as kind of Alice in Wonderland tunnel (a 27-km tunnel straddling the border of France and Switzerland). The Large Hadron Collider is one of science's most ambitious projects to date. One of its aims is to reenact the big bang theory, the theory that a giant "kaboom" created the universe. The boffins are trying to smash a whole lot of protons along this tunnel to find out how the particles will react. How cool is that?
You can read every single technical detail about the construction of this Large Hadron Collider on the web. Seriously. You can even build one yourself, if you are up to it. Just get the manual - there are some 1,600 pages - from the Journal of Instrumentation.
I am awaiting reports on this giant "collison" that is to take place tomorrow in NZ time. But don't get too excited, It will be at least a month, according to the boffins, before the travelling beams collide for us to realise the outcomes.
Doomsday criers say this collison may create black holes to endanger the universe. Great! Now we can dissapear into these blackholes and come out at the other end of somewhere. These are the stuff you only read about in science fiction.
I love what boffins do. They test boundaries for us. Imagine a world without boffins. Without boffins, my daughter who has had a liver transplant, wouldn't have had her second lease of life.
Without boffins tampering with the concept of flight, we won't be able to jetset around the world in jumbo jets. Without boffins we won't have food processors - imagine chopping up a whole bag of onions. Science is a great and marvellous thing. It is mysterious, weird and wonderful.
Why then am I a sucker for things unscientific (as my better half calls me)? Ie, I believe in the existence of ghosts/spirits though I have never seen one. But I have felt goosebumps in brightest, cheeriest hotel rooms. If someone tells me they can see angels, I would believe the person too. Does that make me vulnerable and loopy? If someone told me he/she spotted a UFO, my response would me "tell me more". Who are we to think that we alone exist in this vast universe.
My point is, not everything in the universe has to be lumped as either science or non science. For the longest time, Eastern mystics have explored inner space - going into the mind, to arrive at their version of "new universes". You can't scientifically prove this in a lab although lately there has been a lot of work done around the science of the mind.
I love chorals sung in the church although I don't believe in a creator god like the great composer Joseph Hadyn does and wrote his music singularly for the purpose of exalting the almighty creator. I love the sound of the muazzin (person chosen to make prayers) calling for prayers although I am not a Muslim. I love the Bharatna Natyam, a Hindu dance of worship to the gods although I am not a Hindu. I love a good pyschic reading but also believe you are the maker of your destiny. I also love reading about the mysteries of quarks, parallel universes and the bootstrap theory although half the time I can't understand what I am reading about. That is the beauty of life - the ability to enjoy opposites, the ying and yang, without feeling there is major compromise in how you live your life.
Here's to a happy medium - an appreciation of science and the other loopy versions of how the world really is, or how the world is as other people chose to see it.
Fareed Zakaria -GPS
5 hours ago