Particle Collider

Bread Dropped By Bird Causes Problems for LHC

Article written: 6 Nov , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

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Yes, this headline appears to be true. A bird dropping a piece of bread onto outdoor machinery has been blamed for a technical fault at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) this week which saw significant overheating on parts of the accelerator. The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident, but the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic safety detectors would have shut down the machine. This would put the LHC out of action for a few days while it was restarted, but there would be no repeat of the catastrophic damage suffered last September. That’s when an electrical connection in the circuit itself failed violently, causing a massive liquid-helium leak and subsequent damage along hundreds of meters of magnets.

Hmm. The idea of a time-traveling Higgs boson coming back to prevent its own discovery is seeming less and less far fetched!

Yes, this theory was recently proposed by a pair of physicists, who suggested the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make the discovery, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.

This most recent incident won’t delay the reactivation of the facility later this month, but exposes yet another vulnerability of the what might be the most complex machine ever built.

Source: PopSci



22 Responses

  1. Dark Gnat says

    Wow, what a nice way to cover your ***!

    “We can’t get this thing going because particle from the future won’t allow it.”

    “Great Scott! That’s when I dell off the toilet and drew this…”

    Seriously, I can’t wait until the LHC is back up and ready to do some colliding!

  2. Jon Hanford says

    That’s why I urged doubters of this hypothesis to actually read the paper. The bread dropping bird scenario was mentioned on pg. 666 🙂

  3. ND says

    Any bets on how else the future will interfere with the LHC? Raccoons? Deer? Well targeted meteroid? Swine flu? Coffee spill over the keyboards?

  4. Emission Nebula says

    Oh, I believe that the Mayan calender predicted the Great Bird Bread Dropping. This is clearly proof that the world is going to end in 2012. 😛

  5. ND says

    Oh I know, a hurricane!

  6. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    If a Hurricane hits Geneva we might have reason to suspect something odd is happening. In my graduate days at FNAL there were problems with stray cats nesting under detectors.

    LC

  7. DrFlimmer says

    Reminds me of the discovery of the CMB…. birds are useful for science – in what way is a matter of choice 😉

  8. Dark Gnat says

    I’m betting the LHC will go into full operation on Dec 21, 2012.

    At the same time, all robots and computers will link together (via the Internet) and become self aware. At that point, we will lose control of our defense networks, and a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia/China will result in a nuclear winter. The machines will rise, and battle the remaining forces of humanity for years.

    But at least global warming will be reversed!

  9. ND says

    Crowell,

    My thoughts exactly. A hurricane would be a sure sign of something odd going on with the LHC.

  10. RL says

    No Fate But What We Make? (Cue the Terminator music…)

    I suppose I could accept a design flaw being made that caused the first problem that led to damage, but its actually possible for a bird to drop a piece of bread into the LHC system and bring things to a halt? I hope that part of Europe doesn’t have any squirrels around. They’ll blow the darn thing up.

    Sorry to sound to negative, but I’m not very impressed by CERN so far.

    Ta-da-da-da-da…

  11. RL says

    @ ND,

    My bet is on a Pepsi Syndrome.

  12. Mr. Man says

    Watch the LHC randomly explode RIGHT before they find the Higgs, based on everything thats gone wrong I wouldn’t be that surprised.

  13. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    Bird droppings making LHC messy … if it’s a statue already, would that be of “ineptness” or “the flame of high hopes doused”? :-/

    [On a technical side note, I know that LHC has the largest energy demand since, well, not the big bang which was likely a zero energy event, but let’s say the LEP.

    Anywho, if the busbar that got “doughed” was outside any standard energy supply systems, it isn’t a matter of high probability due to system size but perhaps bad engineering.

    OTOH, if any bird events are likely to recur every year of drift, it’s a toss up if it’s bad engineering (need less sensitive power supplies) or too complex a system.]

    I’m hoping they get the beam circling anytime soon!

    the hypothesized Higgs boson […] might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make the discovery,

    Such ideas may be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would stop the paper before it could make an impact.

    Seriously, time travel doesn’t compute. Literary – it implodes the algorithmic tower of nature and makes everything equally easy to do.

    More to the point here though, how do you test teleological ideas, where causality goes haywire even inside time-like loops by their very predetermination? You can’t distinguish them from probabilistic events AFAIU. And that’s a problem that have entertained religious minds for a very long time.

    [You can however test that they don’t occur more often than probability would give. But that’s no help here.]

    Maybe I should read the paper… or maybe not.

  14. DrFlimmer says

    IIRC, the LEP had also some strange problems. At specific times on the day they had troubles with the stability of the beam (I think). This was caused by the TGV passing by.

  15. cookoy says

    Pretty intelligent bird – knows where exactly to drop the bread to cause maximum damage.

  16. Ravenas says

    I dont get it. If machinery can be severely disturbed by a bird, then why is it outdoors? Somebody build a roof !

  17. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    These concerns, if you call them real concerns were advanced by Nielson and Ninomiya.

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0802/0802.2991v2.pdf

    The LHC might produce channel productions for small amlitude corresponding to black holes. So the extension of this is some prospect there might be closed timelike curves. Kip Thorne has been a major exponent of this, so it is not completely discredited in physics.

    Realistically though I think most physicists are interested in why these things don’t happen. What is there about the structure of spacetime, or quantum states of gravity which prevent these things. Backward causality does not make sense on some elementary grounds.

    LC

  18. cole says

    I designed a large electronic system once, for which I accounted everything that would or could possibly ever happen – no matter how obscure nor improbable. It was so because one person, with his name attached, did all the design. How can we think a group operating under “design by committee” will do truly sound work?

  19. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    Military and space systems are designed and produced by large organizations, government labs and corporations. Generally they do manage to perform pretty well.

    LC

  20. Astrofiend says

    # cole Says:
    November 7th, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    “I designed a large electronic system once, for which I accounted everything that would or could possibly ever happen – no matter how obscure nor improbable. It was so because one person, with his name attached, did all the design. How can we think a group operating under “design by committee” will do truly sound work?”

    Pretty much everything in the world more complex than dead-basic is ‘design by committee’. How on Earth could one person design the LHC?

  21. watchful.stone.guardian says

    It’s the Flashforward! Our future selves have found a way to prevent the LHC from ever generating the Flashforward by altering their past (our future).

    I’m sure this will prove to be the most rational explanation.

    >;)

    wsg

  22. Aodhhan says

    This doesn’t pass the “Giggle” test. What happens next… a tree is blamed for dropping a leaf?

    Seems like it is about time some auditors and quality control inspectors from a couple of major contributing countries take a look at a few things.
    It’s starting to look like some people are trying to stay on the payroll or perhaps taking kick-backs from contractors by extending their work.

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