We .. are allll gonna die (part umpteumpth)

Yes, it’s time for your slow-weekend’s end-of-the-word post

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider hits 1-PeV* milestone with heavy ions (and re-ignites doomsday talk**) [story]

My advice? Wear clean underwear.

(What? Oy, it couldn’t hurt.***)
* peta (quadrillion) electron-volts
** Links to doomsday-saying and hand-wringing
*** And it’s probably more useful than putting a bag over your head.
Animated gif source


  1. Ironic in Denver
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 6:10 pm |

    …the Internet was set abuzz with worries that high-energy collisions could create globe-gobbling black holes or cosmos-wrecking strangelets.

    Everybody relax, they’re just trying to create a place to put Angela Merkel’s Million Moslem March.

  2. Ironic in Denver
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 6:16 pm |

    Nice post graphic by the way, I like it better than Alderaan & the Death Star.

    Note to CERN: probably best if you’re going to build a Death Star super laser to point it away from yourself before firing it….

    ….note to Republican Party 2016: that goes for you too.

  3. DougM (quiet, keeps to himself, kind of a loner, nobody thought he’d do anything like this)
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm |

    ^ *heh*
    The ultimate circular firing squad.

  4. ZZMike
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:24 pm |

    This should spur a surge in tin-hat sales.

    Way Back When, before the first atomic test out in the desert, there was some concern – among the scientists – that a nuclear explosion might set off a chain reaction and destroy the Earth.

    The commander said, let’s give it a go and see what happens.

    1 PeV might seem a really big bunch of energy, but it’s only 4.5*10^-8 watthour, or 3.9*10-14 tons of explosive (on the kiloton scale) If it hit you, you wouldn’t know what hit you – it would be so small. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to stand in the beam.

  5. MikeG
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:45 pm |

    The way I’ve been feeling lately, all I can say is “Bring it!”

    Or to quote Ron White when faced with a possible plane crash, “Hit something hard, I don’t wanna limp away from this wreck.”

  6. Ironic in Denver
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 9:10 pm |

    ^ Of nuclear explosions, doomsdays, and so forth, I have read (e.g., see Wikipedia) that the initial charge that moved the uranium in the Little Boy A-bomb they dropped on Hiroshima was cordite.

    Unbelievable. I see cordite as approaching obsolescence at the time, and they use it in the first A-bomb.

    American crime fiction writers who don’t know any better are fond of writing “the smell of cordite was in the air” after a firearm discharge in an American crime scene. Robert B. Parker (in Gunman’s Rhapsody) does it at what would later be called The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral*, which is especially funny since the famous gun fight occurred on October 26, 1881, and production of cordite did not begin (in Great Britain) until about 1889.

    (I assume that the Earps and friends were actually shooting with black gunpowder?)

    In any case, despite its use in Little Boy, I doubt that after the Big Boom “the smell of cordite” was in the air over Hiroshima.

    * Actually, the fight took place in an empty lot not too far from the corral, and I don’t think it was much known as The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral until the 1957 film by the same name, but who’s going to try to market a film named “Gunfight in the Empty Lot Next to Fly’s?” This, by the way, is a thought not original to me, although at them moment I’m not prepared to offer proper attribution. Possibly Jeff Guinn in “The Last Gunfight.”

  7. DougM (quiet, keeps to himself, kind of a loner, nobody thought he’d do anything like this)
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 11:54 pm |

    ^ Dunno, but I expect that the proliferation of Western pulp novels in the early 20thC is what made the Earp’s legend, and one of ‘em must’a used OK Corral — it’s too good of a name to let go to waste. Then again, mebbe it was used in a lurid newspaper headline at the time.

    You’re right, Cordite smells different from the black powder that the Earps undoubtedly used.
    Cordite’s an early nitrocellulose-based (smokeless) powder used through WWI and was eventually replaced by modern double and triple-based smokeless propellants (gunpowders).

    I suspect that Cordite was used in Little Boy, because it was a gun-type design built by Navy ordnance facilities, and they knew their bigass naval artillery. I suspect it had a pretty well-known behavior database, and was probably readily available. This is a bit puzzling, since a number of articles say “high explosive,” but Cordite’s a “low explosive.” One mentions nitrocellulose, but I could only find one reference to Cordite, by name — in the diagram here (item-W).

    Hey, you want obscure?
    Here’s obscure — the plutonium bomb, Fat Man, was named for Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) in The Maltese Falcon (1941); and the uranium bomb, Little Boy, was named for the gunsel, Wilmer (Elisha Cook, Jr). Little Boy was a smaller, simplified version of Thin Man (guess who that was named after).

  8. DougM (quiet, keeps to himself, kind of a loner, nobody thought he’d do anything like this)
    Posted November 30, 2015 at 12:13 am |

    ZZMike ^4
    Yeah, it ain’t much energy in the human-scale of things; but when you apply that to the really, really teeny volume of an atomic nucleus …

    Now if you’ll excuse me,
    I’m gonna take a shower and put on some clean underwear .. if it’s the last thing I ever do.

  9. Fawkes News (Barack Lies Matter)
    Posted November 30, 2015 at 5:50 am |

    Clearly the only way to stave off Doomsday is to place the world’s means of production in the hands of a few transnational bureaucrats for micromanagement.

    Oh, wait…

  10. ZZMike
    Posted November 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm |

    Ironic, DougM: Yup, cordite (” a conventional artillery smokeless powder”). Gory details, for the terminally inquisitive:

    The Designs of Fat Man and Little Boy

    Delightful details:

    … Thin Man would be a very long device, and the name came from the Dashiell Hammett detective novel The Thin Man … Fat Man would be round and fat and was named after Sydney Greenstreet’s character in The Maltese Falcon … Little Boy would come last and was named after Elisha Cook, Jr.’s character….

  11. Fat Baxter
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 5:15 pm |

    IiD @6: “Unbelievable. I see cordite as approaching obsolescence at the time, and they use it in the first A-bomb.”

    The Peacekeeper ICBM was cold-launched. It was popped out of the silo by a bubble of pressurized gas, whereupon the engines fired up and it took off.

    The source of that initial pop? A bunch of good old black power, ignited over water to create a steam cloud. That rapidly expanding steam pushed the Peacekeeper clear of the silo.

  12. ZZMike
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm |

    Fat Baxter: I suspect there was a lot of hopeNpray that the engines really fired up.

    And here I always thought it was a really big spring…..