With so much stuff whizzing around the internets, accelerating barely-humorous* claims of big bangs, and all-devouring black holes zapping around one way, and conspiracy nuts spiralling out of control going the other way and throwing out like actual death threats to physicists, what does the resulting explosion of uninformed daftness tell us about the small-scale fabric of culture itself? Follow the tracks of the memes as they galvanise those around them and work backwards to the source…

Pop cultural candidate #1 has to be Dan Brown’s ‘Angels and Demons’ which features a finished LHC (as did Brown imitating ‘Decipher’ by Stel Pavlou). I have not read it, but it sounds particularly bonkers — I look forward to the forthcoming film. CERN even have a page for A&D fans explaining the reality. But that (appears) to be largely about a large bomb — it’s not the source of end-of-world-ism.

It’s got a sort of negative echo of Y2K about it all — those who know that there is little (i.e nothing) to worry about, are actually going out of their way to stress that this is the case, as it might lose them funding. The Y2K fear and uncertainty was, by contrast, a great source of cash.

It also feels like — finally an end of the world i can relate to! A bang not a whimper! A Statham/Cage blockbuster firecracker of doomscience instead of the media drip-feed namby-pamby melting ice caps and ‘won’t someone think of the polar bears’ editorials. Like boiling frogs, we can only get agitated when the threat is instant but fictional, not incremental and more likely.

And here’s another interesting trace — a serious article in a proper science journal — going back to 1999. Will relativistic heavy-ion colliders destroy our planet? The answer is no, but look at the step up in downloads of the PDF around 2004/2005. What happened then?

Like the physicists, I have no final answers, only more questions. Such as: assuming there really were people who thought there was a threat — what did they think the scientists working at, and presumably more knowledgeable of, the LHC were thinking? “Oh at least it’ll be over quickly for me”

What I want to know is, how will they replicate the experimental results? What if this piece of apparatus is faulty? 10 years in, they get an interesting result — “We think we saw a Higgs Boson but we can’t be sure… we’re going to need another 10 billion pounds plz”. Or, finally they do catch site of the great white shark whale god particle: “… we’re going to need a bigger colllider”

And when the Larger Hadron Collider was turned on it spoke of the existence of the one that would come after it — the Largest Hadron Collider. And with Humanity’s help, it would design one for us…

*OK, Cracked.com’s “Scientific experiments most likely to end the world” made me laff.

Thompson Twins “You take me up” interlocking picture disks. You know what it means.