Creating "Sparks"

Discussion of the end of the world brought about by ultra high energy colliders.
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chelle
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Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:48 am

Hello,

I have some questions regarding the fact that the LHC creates "Sparks":
From the "Review of the Safety of LHC Collisions" by the LHC Safety Assessment Group:
The LHC reproduces in the laboratory, under controlled conditions, collisions at centre-of-mass energies less than those reached in the atmosphere by some of the cosmic rays that have been bombarding the Earth for billions of years. We recall the rates for the collisions of cosmic rays with the Earth, Sun, neutron stars, white dwarfs and other astronomical bodies at energies higher than the LHC. The stability of astronomical bodies indicates that such collisions cannot be dangerous. http://cern.ch/lsag/LSAG-Report.pdf
So, the LHC is an instrument that creates sparks just like cosmic rays, couldn't one of those sparks create a Runaway Breakdown, causing a Avalanche Breakdown?

Runaway breakdown: In the upper atmosphere, cosmic rays striking air molecules within thunderstorms can supply the relativistic electrons which trigger a breakdown in "runaway" mode. The breakdown region is a conductive plasma many tens of meters long, and it can supply the "seed" which triggers a lightning flash.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_breakdown

Avalanche Breakdown: A phenomenon that can occur in both insulating and semiconducting materials. It is a form of electric current multiplication that can allow very large currents to flow within materials which are otherwise good insulators.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avalanche_breakdown

As a second point; we as a planet are trying to find out what the Higgs Boson is by smashing particles against each other, how can we ever say that something is save when we don't know what it is. This sounds stupid but who can assure us that splitting a Higgs Boson couldn't cause a chain-reaction, igniting the Higgs field?

kind regards,

chelle
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Xymox » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:49 pm

Wow nicely done question !

Sparks are a great way to look at collisions. Very cool..

Now I am no expert, and I would like others more experienced in this to comment..

From what I understand.. Correct me if I am wrong..

The LHC sparks are pretty much contained in the detectors by a huge range of materials and shielding. Yes some energetic sparks will go right through that stuff but its my understanding that the sparks that do go through all the shielding do not interact with matter in almost any way or in such a small way they do not cause any issue at all.. Think like a fireworks sparkler. These produce sparks that are almost completely harmless. They start out really hot and violent, but decay into pretty sparks that are not dangerous at all. Plus the detectors, by design, absorbs the sparks to study them.

Cosmic rays are FAR more powerful then anything we can currently even imagine producing. They are like a lightning bolt vs. a sparkler. If sparks from these cosmic rays only produce pretty harmless showers of more sparks then it would seem the odds of a cosmic ray ending the world are pretty low.

In fact its FAR more likely that a cosmic ray would cause the doomsday run-away scenario you mention. The fact we are still here and the planet seems pretty intact seem to suggest that hyper high powered collisions, like the ones from cosmic rays hitting our atmosphere, are in fact quite safe and natural as they may produce clouds and maybe seed lightning.

In fact I think, correct me if I am wrong, that Higgs bosons would be produced by cosmic ray collisions. BUT they would live for such a short time that we could not study them up at the altitudes where these sparks occur.

So I think cosmic rays even suggest that a Higgs would be completely safe if produced in the LHC.

However,,, this is a complicated subject for sure. The high number of continuous sparks might get a little weird as the sparks might add together ?

SO.... while we dont know what dark matter, dark energy or a Higgs Boson is or their properties, we can be pretty safe colliding things cuz we know that cosmic rays don't cause the end of the world at FAR higher powers then we can hope to produce.

So cosmic rays are pretty handy to determine if the LHC is going to be safe.

Now,,,, if/when we reach powers above cosmic rays in maybe 10-20 years, THEN we need to be far more cautious.

This is my best stab at answering this question.

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:50 pm

Wow nicely done question !

Sparks are a great way to look at collisions. Very cool..

... that Higgs bosons would be produced by cosmic ray collisions. BUT they would live for such a short time that we could not study them up at the altitudes where these sparks occur.

So I think cosmic rays even suggest that a Higgs would be completely safe if produced in the LHC.

... So cosmic rays are pretty handy to determine if the LHC is going to be safe.
Thx for the compliment :)

I do have a few follow-up questions regarding Cosmic Rays:

These cosmic rays that fly onto earth from outer space are seen as equal as the ones produced by the LHC, this brings up my first question: are they really the same? Because picture this, if I trow a lemon into space it keeps its speed etc. but it's cold in space so it must loose its inner energy, so after a trip of a few million light years, it must be almost vaporized and have no longer the potential of the original Lemon. This in contrast to the fresh baked particles from CERN. To make an other comparison; a fist punch by Mike Tyson in he's glory days with all it's acceleration, isn't the same as when he just slowly knocks on the door ... but it's the same fist.

And a second question; How can we know for sure that the Higgs isn't fragile? Think of a karate kid hitting a wooden plate, if he doesn't use enough punch he could easily break his own fist, but with enough force he could smash through 10 of them in a row, and especially if he's a sensei what the LHC actually is compared to the other boosters.
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by publius » Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:26 pm

Although cosmic rays are described as incredibly energetic, an individual particle (most likely a proton) has only about 50 joules of energy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray). A stick of dynamite has about 2 million joules of energy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamite). The trick in initiating a lightning disharge is to find some way to ionize the insulating air and release some of the enormous electrical energy built up in a thunderstorm. The energy in a lightning flash is released from the stored electric fields in thunderstorms. It doesn't come from the cosmic ray.

CERN's two beams are referred to in terms equivalent to energy, but the actually energy stored is inconsequential compared to something as common as a thunderstorm, and only a small fraction can be released during a collision between beams. Total beam energy is something like 362 MJ, and that's a lot of dynamite, but very little is actually released in a collision because relatively few particles collide. The CERN target chambers are huge because it is so difficult to capture even a few of the particles after a colission.

The real concern some people have is that we will create a "chain reaction" similar to what happens in a nuclear weapon. However, particle beams are a fundamentally different. They can't confine the atomic particles in the same way weapons do, and can't cause the same kind of nuclear reactions. There simply isn't enough material present. Even CERN's densest beams are a good approximation to a vacuum.

And one last point. The Standard Model in modern physics is a framework for predicting what will happen in nuclear interactions. Good models allow physicists to predict, with some confidence, what the outcome of an experiment should be. The models and predictions have been remarkably reliable, allowing us to put some trust in the "mad" scientists.

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Xymox » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:12 pm

Hmmm.... Im getting a little past my knowledge here.. But I will give it another try..

"cosmic ray" is a general term that applies to any really high speed particle from space. According to wikipedia 90% are protons, 10% helium and 1% everything else. So a cosmic ray is really just a tiny bit of some bit of matter, sorta like a ultra tiny bit of dust, going, really, really really really really fast.

The LHC is going use protons just like most cosmic rays. The protons are all exactly the same even if they have been traveling for eons. Sorta like throwing a ball of lead into space. A lemon would die and decay, but lead would just go on almost forever almost unchanged. The protons might have slowed down a small amount during the journey but they are the same thing still, like the lead. The ones we see here on earth are still going so fast we are in AWE at how fast they go.

We have detected these crazy cosmic rays called Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-high ... cosmic_ray They are so powerful the scientists named them the "Oh My God particle"

They most likely get generated by powerful black holes. These produce crazy high powered sparks when they slam into earth/people/stuff and have not caused anything catastrophic to occur.

I think these might well produce Higgs, black holes and maybe punch through to other dimensions if they exist once they hit earth. They do this all the time, all over the world and all the planets and shower the entire universe.

The sparks these generate is like a atomic bomb compared to a wimpy LHC sparkler..

So these natural insanely powerful beams from space are bombing us all the time and they do not cause anything bad to happen.

Hmmmmm..... fresh particles.. Well, I dont 'think' there is any difference. Its hard for 'me' to even imagine that there is. BUT you might be right I suppose. BUT using the Hubble we can see the objects where these insanely powerful cosmic rays are coming from. The neighbors really close to the source of these rays get showered with fresh particles and nothing weird seems to happen to them. So I don't 'think' fresh vs older makes a difference in particles like it would a lemon. But thats my thinking..

As far as the Higgs being fragile goes. Again we can see pretty clearly into space and if a higgs split and caused something bizzare to happen I would think we would have seen it by now happening someplace. These ultra cosmic rays are really common out in space, and super intense in some places, I think they would be colliding with things now and producing higgs/black holes/dimensions and so far we have not seen any evidence of really freaky events occurring.

The nasty stuff we see in space like super novas are known to occur from old stars for example. Its a natural death of a star.

I still think we are ok..

Are cosmic rays the exact same things that we are using in the LHC ?. I 'think' so. But I suppose I could be wrong. I'm not a expert on any of this.. I 'think' a physicists would say "yes absolutely". BUT I don't think there are absolutes in anything. I like to keep a open mind. BUT I think maybe we are OK here. I think the insanely powerful ultra cosmic rays give us a good idea that anything a little tiny atom smasher could do is NOTHING compared to a galaxy class black hole accelerator that is spitting out massive amounts of ultra cosmic rays and showering them all over the universe causing untold amounts of collisions.

I think we are still ok.

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Xymox » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:15 pm

Publius... we posted at the same time..

You have good points..

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:26 pm

Although cosmic rays are described as incredibly energetic, an individual particle (most likely a proton) has only about 50 joules of energy. A stick of dynamite has about 2 million joules of energy. The trick in initiating a lightning discharge is to find some way to ionize the insulating air and release some of the enormous electrical energy built up in a thunderstorm. The energy in a lightning flash is released from the stored electric fields in thunderstorms. It doesn't come from the cosmic ray.
I understand that it takes only a few sparks to sets off the explosion of dynamite as well as it might cause a lightning flash, so the comparison to a stick of Dynamite isn't really relevant, as it is made out of atoms, protons and such, a lot of small ones making a big one. The question is, is their a level that concrete could be set to fire, as it is condensed gas, like a forest can be set to fire with a few sparks.
The real concern some people have is that we will create a "chain reaction" similar to what happens in a nuclear weapon. However, particle beams are a fundamentally different. They can't confine the atomic particles in the same way weapons do, and can't cause the same kind of nuclear reactions. There simply isn't enough material present. Even CERN's densest beams are a good approximation to a vacuum.
I understand that for a "nuclear reaction" it is the process of a neutron added to rare unstable atoms such as uranium that cause the fission. But this is process is at an Atomic Level, and the question is could a sub-atomic spark create a chain-reaction or a fission of the sub-atomic Higgs bosons? According to the Higgs theory, everything is bathing in a field of these particles.

And to come back to my earlier question are the rays from outer space the same as created by the LHC do they have in their core the same potential. And when they are smashed in the LHC into each other, is that the same as in nature regarding their acceleration speed / force?

The Standard Model in modern physics is a framework for predicting what will happen in nuclear interactions. Good models allow physicists to predict, with some confidence, what the outcome of an experiment should be. The models and predictions have been remarkably reliable, allowing us to put some trust in the "mad" scientists.
I'm not worrying about "mad" scientist, I'm curious about the "side-effects" for instance we only knew after a few years about the fact that radiation can cause cancer or for instance plumbers used in the early days lead pipes and eventually it poisoned a lot of people, etc. side effects can always pop-up in a field of science that isn't discovered yet.


Note: we have been posting all more or less at the same time, a forum collision ;)

And Xymos I just read your reply which answers actually a lot of my above questions, and I really like this argument:
The protons are all exactly the same even if they have been traveling for eons. Sorta like throwing a ball of lead into space. A lemon would die and decay, but lead would just go on almost forever almost unchanged.
I guess this it what it comes down to for me lemon vs. lead, if I wake up tomorrow and find nothing to contest it I'll agree with the whole deal :)
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:47 pm

I guess this it what it comes down to for me lemon vs. lead, if I wake up tomorrow and find nothing to contest it I'll agree with the whole deal
Hey, I found one; they use gold to cover Satellites and anything that goes into space because of corrosion, so ... does this argument makes sense?

Edit: On the other side a lemon in space would freeze and become harder than a fresh one, and wouldn't vaporize, ... but a comet has a tail of some sort, mh ... :roll:
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Xymox » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:11 am

hehehehe...

ok ok... a GOLD ball thrown into space !

See the thing is,, I dont think a proton, or a single atom of anything is really gonna change or decay.. Oh wait... Except for nuclear decay. Which is beyond me. But I think that yes gold -eventually- turns into something else, which turns into something else... I think... Over billions of years. I think...

But a proton... I dont think a proton decays into anything.

wait a minute... there is a completely unproven theory.

OoOoO look at that a hypothetical form of radioactive decay
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_decay

A proton may decay into a positron. Thats antimatter. But its a far out theory and never observed.

BUT even then... Ok our lemon has turned into antimatter. Now it smacks the earth. No big deal. Tiny tiny microscopic kapow.

Again inside the detector, no issue. They deal with antimatter all the time.

So even if it -might- change on its way here, its gonna become antimatter. No big deal.

But yea... sleep on the thoughts and post your thoughts.

Lemons, sparks and Higgs bosons. Cool.

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:17 pm

But yea... sleep on the thoughts and post your thoughts.

Lemons, sparks and Higgs bosons. Cool.
Thx for your expertise ... and after some sleep ... some more thoughts :)

I guess the melon/lead comparison isn't a good one, so to sample it down, a grain of sand would be better, it wouldn't decay over time in space as it crystallized ... so created in a lab or in space it's all sand.

What really is relevant is the kinetic speed of a cosmic-ray-particle when it enters our atmosphere and planet. It can create a Runaway breakdown as suggested earlier, igniting static charged air caused by atmospheric perturbations, or just cause a gamma ray flash:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrestria ... -ray_flash

Note: there are nearly 1.4 billion light-flashes per year on earth and we are still here so no danger for the planet.

But still a few questions; can these omg cosmic ray particles reach earth without being slowed down by the atmosphere, and the particles noticed on and in the ground aren't they always the left-overs of an "air shower"?

A second question, particles that reach our atmosphere are they always stand-alone particles in contrast to the thousands or millions that are launched at the same time during experiments in the LHC?

And a final one; how big are the chances that two cosmic rays particles hit each other naturally on and in the ground, after passing by our atmosphere ?
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Xymox » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:56 pm

You do have great questions..

This will be a good thread for many many others in the future..

I hope I am answering with technically correct answers. I am no expert...

The sand grains is a good explanation. Sure made it clear in my mind.

Can the OMG particles reach the ground. Im not sure. I dont know. I think your right they just hit the atmosphere and produce the air shower. ???

Are the cosmic rays single particals or are they a bunch of them.. Again im not sure. It seems they always seem to indicate its a single particle. maybe they dont know ?

Yea a "bunch" of particles will collide head on at once. Not just 1 particle. It will then be followed very closely by another bunch, and another... Almost a stream.

But, this also happens all the time in space. The beams of this stuff that come from real black holes is ginourmous. These beams of OMG particles along with vast amounts of other really intense stuff hits other suns/planets/galaxies with no visible highly destructive issues.

I dont know what the odds are of particles hitting each other. Its pretty tame in our neck of the woods in the Milky Way. There are other very violent places tho that I would think have massive amounts of this kinda thing go on..

You know.... What the LHC might prove is that matter is way more stable then we think ?

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:22 pm

Ok, we can agree upon the fact that a particle-subdividing-atmosphere is irrelevant cause otherwise as you suggest something like the moon would be flickering all of the time.

But these cosmic-ray particles could be "Soot" created after the explosion of a Supernova, not necessarily a super-duper black-hole as there isn't a lot of proof for those. And soot hasn't got the same energy level as a "sparkle".

"Soot is in the general category of airborne particulate matter, … Particulates are tiny particles of solid or liquid suspended in a gas or liquid. In contrast, aerosol refers to particles and the gas together, …"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soot
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particulate

I also agree that there isn't a lot of action going on in this part of the milky-way but there are theories about cosmic-rays stating that one Supernova explosion every 50 years in our part of the galaxy would produce enough particles to keep the numbers in check. And perhaps all stars are at a certain distance from each other because there is a field wherein all other matter would be ignited.

btw I just read that these loose flying gamma-ray particle don't fly straight forward in contrast to the beams generated by the LHC, they are curved due to the magnetic-field, making them move in spirals round the magnetic-lines (see pic.), by doing so they loose energy, sending out radiation (straling) in the form of radio-waves, this is how they measure the rest-nebulae of Supernovae.

Image

There is still a lot unknown about the "life" of these particles to use them as a 100% bulletproof reference frame. Note, the book I'm reading is from '79 so I'm probably way behind :)
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Xymox » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:07 pm

whew...

You do post some good, and difficult questions...

I think I have questions this time :)
And soot hasn't got the same energy level as a "sparkle".
Why ? I would think once you get anything going at 99.99999999999~~~~ of the speed of light it really just becomes energy ? No ? Im making this up as I go so no fact checking hehe... But I think it really does ?

And perhaps all stars are at a certain distance from each other because there is a field wherein all other matter would be ignited.
You know... I would have to research to see if there is some normal average minimum distance between stars. That would be really interesting. It does seem to be huh ? Might also be that its kinda a magnetic thing and they are kept apart by a whole bunch of things. I know the sun produces a huge gas bubble around it that encompasses all the planets. This is held in place by pressure from the solar wind IE charged particles.
There is still a lot unknown about the "life" of these particles to use them as a 100% bulletproof reference frame.
But I think it only really matters that they are going really really fast. I think they really become more like energy then matter at those speeds. I think...

I donno.... your really asking questions beyond my ability to answer. Your getting pretty good at this :)

We need some particle physicist and astro physicist to help here.

-----------

I just posted in another forum to see if I can get anyone with a far better mind then mine in here to answer some of this.

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chriwi » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:49 am

As far as I understand particels never become or behave like pure energy, but for the collider experiments the particles do not semm to matter, theyare only carriers of the huge amount of energy which has to be focused at verysmall space. Thats why for most questions it doesn't really matter if you shoot protonson protons or electrons on Positrons (like theydid in the LEP (predecessor of LHC)). The main question i: "which particles are suitable to carry the ammount of energy I want to use and how good are they to handle".

I really cannot imagine why gammarays should curve in magnetic fields, cause they are only light and have no charge, maybe you meean alpha- or beta- rays (particles).
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:17 pm

Why ? I would think once you get anything going at 99.99999999999~~~~ of the speed of light it really just becomes energy ? No ? Im making this up as I go so no fact checking hehe... But I think it really does ?
For this 0.000000000000000000~1 percent the LHC is made because there is a difference of a few "0" behind the comma, with the one of Fermilab so it is important. Anyhow mass is equal to energy E=mc^2
You know... I would have to research to see if there is some normal average minimum distance between stars... The sun produces a huge gas bubble around it that encompasses all the planets.
Anything that comes close to a supernova will be blown away, perhaps the gass bubble protects us from more fierce incoming gamma rays ... just teasing ;)

I guess you are right, I always tought that what keeps us in place is based on Bernoulli's principle, but I think I'm being to simplistic again, I have to do some real research.
We need some particle physicist and astro physicist to help here.
Probably, cause I always think I'm just asking silly questions, who could be diminished with a simple reference link.
I really cannot imagine why gamma-rays should curve in magnetic fields, cause they are only light and have no charge, maybe you mean alpha- or beta- rays (particles).
You could be right it the book the writer (Duin, R.M.) refers to "Relativistic Particles" and the image shows a "relativistic electron"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativistic_particle

Note: Perhaps you might find it back in one of these pdf's (I'll have a look myself a bit later on):
https://www.openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/br ... ldestfirst
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