Re: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Tue Sep 16 2008 - 03:01:34 EDT

I wouldn't be surprised that if in 10 or 20 years you could redo the LHC experiment in a small lab.

Current understanding makes that seem practically impossible. There are hard physical constraints. Why is the Stanford linear accelerator linear, and why is it two miles long? If it were circular, much of the energy being pumped into the particles would radiate away. It's long in order to pump enough energy into the particles. At the end of the two miles an electron acquires the mass of a sodium atom. (Larry Johnston, who helped build the machine, told me that.) There's no currently conceivable way of getting that kind of mass increase in a small distance.

The LHC is circular, and the diameter is large. It's large in order to get enough energy pumped into the particles. This is 50-year-old technology (or so), and in that time there've been improvements, but nobody's figured out a significantly more efficient way of pumping up the particles. So the machines gotta be big.

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dehler, Bernie<mailto:bernie.dehler@intel.com>
  Cc: asa<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
  Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 8:52 AM
  Subject: RE: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge

  "Back when I was doing particle physics there was a common saying that the science was extremely expensive and had led to nothing whatever of practical value, not even a weapon. I think that assessment is still true."

   

  I wouldn't be surprised that if in 10 or 20 years you could redo the LHC experiment in a small lab. Shrink the technology, with new technology. It is like computers used to fill rooms with vacuum tubes, but today's laptop computers are much smaller and much more powerful. You have to start somewhere.

   

  .Bernie

   

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Don Winterstein
  Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 1:58 AM
  To: William Hamilton
  Cc: asa
  Subject: Re: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge

   

   Gen 1:26 - 28 could be interpreted to mean that Christians are supposed to make progress in understanding the physical world. If we are to have stewardship over the physical world, we need to understand it.

   

  I take the operative word there to be "rule over." That is, in context of Scriptures, human knowledge is not for its own sake but for doing good. Back when I was doing particle physics there was a common saying that the science was extremely expensive and had led to nothing whatever of practical value, not even a weapon. I think that assessment is still true. The TOE, if and when, may also have no practical value. It would be the epitome of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and it would (as I see it) constitute a large, discontinuous leap away from a scriptural view of the value and uses of human knowledge. Some might attribute the driving force for the search for TOE to human hubris. Nevertheless, if TOE comes, I'll be convinced that God had that very thing in mind from the start and that our Scriptures don't give us the full story about the purposes of human kind.

   

  Don

   

   

   

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: William Hamilton<mailto:willeugenehamilton@gmail.com>

    To: Don Winterstein<mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>

    Cc: Iain Strachan<mailto:igd.strachan@gmail.com> ; ASA<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>

    Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2008 3:52 PM

    Subject: Re: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge

     

     

    On Sun, Sep 14, 2008 at 1:45 AM, Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com<mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>> wrote:

     

    Nevertheless such divine intent would fit uncomfortably with much of traditional Christian teaching and emphasis. Where is it written that Christians are supposed to make progress in understanding the physical world?

     Gen 1:26 - 28 could be interpreted to mean that Christians are supposed to make progress in understanding the physical world. If we are to have stewardship over the physical world, we need to understand it.

      The Christian emphasis instead is on loving God and one's neighbor, setting the mind on things above, all the while living in expectation of ultimate fulfillment at the Second Coming. Fulfillment that the TOE would bring is wholly other.

    Agreed

       

      So while TOE does not imply God does not exist, the very idea generates a certain amount of dissonance with traditional Christianity.

    Agreed that it generates a certain amount of dissonance with traditional Christianity. However, that may be due to human blind spots, not anything inherent in Christianity.

       

       

     

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Received on Tue Sep 16 02:03:14 2008

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