Broadcast 1238 (Special Edition)

12 Oct 2009 Don Lincoln
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Guest: Don Lincoln. Topics: Large Hadron Collider (LHC), particle physics, basic science and NASA research funding,. Don Lincoln was the guest for this Space Show program to talk about his new book, "The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider." This book is available for purchase from One Giant Leap Foundation (OGLF) as an Amazon partner at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0801891442?tag=onegialeafou-20. Remember, if you purchase this book through OGLF, part of your purchase goes to The Space Show/OGLF by Amazon so you help The Space Show with your purchase. During the first segment, our guest gave us the basics of his book as well as the LHC. We went over the ideas that some harbor and that are on the internet that the LHC would endanger the Earth. We talked about microscopic black holes, strangelets, vacuum bubbles and more. Don explained why there is no danger to the Earth referencing cosmic rays and the fact that only two proton beams are ever collided with one another. In response to one of my questions about how much power it took to run the LHC, Don said it was around 120mw which was enough to power the entire state of Geneva. He also said they buy their power off the grid which is the way the Fermi National Lab acquires its power. He then explained how an electric field was made and how the beam was accelerated. You don't want to miss this discussion. In the second segment, we talked about the expectations for discovery using the LHC. Don said the proper question to ask is "what are we looking for?" He said the LHC can generate seven times the energy of existing colliders so they hope to find out more about the nature and origin of mass of the universe. In addition, they hope to confirm or refute the existence of the Higgs boson particle which would then confirm or refute the Higgs field and this is important in understanding the mass of the universe. Don also told us that with the LHC they will be very close to recreating the circumstances that existed right after the Big Bang. We talked about how the LHC and the experiments and research were funded. In looking toward the future, he said that there were no current plans to build a larger accelerators but that there were very early discussions about the International Linear Collider which if built as discussed and planned would be an electron/antimatter-electron accelerator. During this segment, our guest also described what was meant by an energy regime, a term used frequently during our discussion. This segment ended with a more detailed discussion on how the proton beam was created and put into the accelerator, then accelerated to almost the speed of light. During the third segment, Don mentioned two current speaking engagements so if you are going to be in and around the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles Nov. 6-7 or the Adler Planetarium in Chicago on Nov. 19, go to his lecture and hear what he has to say. I certainly recommend listening to Don Lincoln in person if you have the opportunity to do so. For ticket information, please go to the respective websites for the organizations mentioned. We received a listener question asking about what U.S. science policy should be and this brought us to a discussion of funding science, basic research and the need to have curiosity based research funded. Another question asked Don to compare the quality of basic science to NASA science and human spaceflight science. Don explained there were no conflicts among these disciplines and talked about the need for proper science funding across the board. We talked about science funding at the LHC in light of the global economic problems and we were told about cutbacks and budget issues among the Europeans as well. At one point, he stressed the need that all science, including human spaceflight, had to have value and economics behind it. He said this was a valuable debate that was needed. Toward the end of this segment, he was asked about lecturing and teaching middle school, high school, college, and adult groups. I believe you will find his comments about these different audiences interesting and important. Don's earlier book, "Understanding the Universe: From Quarks to the Cosmos" was mentioned as it provides a quality overview of particle physics. This book is also on the OGLF book page at www.amazon.com/dp/9812387056?tag=onegialeafou-20. Finally in this segment, Don was asked how he responds to people that ask him or want to engage him in a debate about the Young Earth idea or that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Listen to how he handles these questions. If you have questions or comments for Don Lincoln, he suggested contacting him through his author Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Don-Lincoln/100958137881. In addition, he has a book page at http://www.thequantumfrontier.com. To learn more about his presentations and works, please visit http://www-d0.fnal.gov/public/popular-lectures/Lincoln_Pop.html and http://www-d0.fnal.gov/~lincoln/. At the bottom of this page, you will see his name which takes you to his email link which is also lincoln@fnal.gov. As always, you can send your questions and comments for Don Lincoln through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.

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