The worlds biggest science experiment is back in action after a year of repairs. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest particle accelerator and it is expected to shed much light on many of the most challenging unanswered questions in physics. Many theories and models are being put to the test at the LHC, including: The Standard Model, Supersymetry, The existence of the Higgs Boson, and even simulations of the initial conditions of the Big Bang.

The LHC has faced a lot of undue criticism by the general public. Most of it has been as a result of misinformation, or lack of understanding. The LHC will not create black holes that swallow our planet, nor is it being used to generate anti-matter to destroy the Vatican.

Many people have commented on the cost of the project which sits in the range of 4.5-6 billion US dollars as being a waste of so much money. Considering the enormity of the project you’d expect it to be expensive, but is it really worth it? Can’t the money be spent on more important things?

Here is a link describing Canada’s contribution to the project. We have apparently contributed 40 million dollars to the project, but I am unsure as to whether this is public money, or money from private Canadian investors. (thanks Justin)

In contrast to the biggest science experiment of all time, The US National Defence budget for this year alone weighs in at a modest $651.2 Billion dollars US! That means that 144 times the cost of the entire development of the LHC has been spent in defense by just the US this year. Sobering…

I am excited about the LHC as a humanist, because there is no doubt that this project will lead us all to a much better understanding of the fabric of the universe we live in. “The most uncomprehensible thing about the universe is that is comprehensible” (Einstein), even if it means smashing protons into each other around a 27 kilometer track.

Here’s a video featuring particle phyicist Brian Cox discussing the LHC, what it is all about, what it is going to do, and what went wrong with it last year:

Download MP3 of Glorious Dawn here

Here’s a little something fun for Friday. This is a song composed by ColorPulseMusic that was created from various clips of Carl Sagan in his show “Cosmos“. The piece also features an excerpt of a Stephen Hawking talk.

The work of both of these men has always been admired in Humanist circles. Modern cosmology and astrophysics are two of the key areas of science that provide a strong foundation for our worldview. I would consider at least one book from each of these men: “Must Read” material for the Humanist. If you have never yet had the pleasure to read any of their books, check out these two books next time you are at a book store or the library:

Carl Sagan: Pale Blue Dot

Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time

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