LHC Update: Bing Bang Machine Could Confirm or Disprove String Theory

Today’s CERN LHCC meeting had a wide-range of reports about how the machine is doing (1 nb-1 now, 10 nb-1 over the next 5 weeks), what the experiments are seeing (charm, Ws), and what physics might be possible with the 2010-11 run (limits on some supersymmetric and other more exotic scenarios).

Reuters this evening reports on the meeting, headlined with the typical delusional nonsense about string theory and the LHC which we’re in for several years of {“Could confirm or disprove string theory”).

Update: This story has made it to various media outlets, including one that has it as Collider on Track With Bing Bang Research. Title of posting edited appropriately.

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16 Responses to LHC Update: Bing Bang Machine Could Confirm or Disprove String Theory

  1. Interested (I guess I'll keep that moniker) says:

    Can you clarify something?

    The link you provided quotes an LHC director stating they may find “large extra dimensions, string balls and heavy slow-charged particles”.

    Do string theories have as precise definitions of those things listed as the particles the Standard Model predicted? My impression is that if the definitions are loose or even if they just come up with another thousand guesses they will eventually ‘find’ something.

  2. Peter Woit says:


    String theory doesn’t predict anything about what the LHC will see, but it is consistent with all sorts of things in an infinitely long list of exotic non-standard model possibilities. That’s what is being referred to here.

  3. unreuters says:

    At least Reuters reports on the thing at all.
    Let’s not complain about *everything*.
    It’s overall a good article, there’s no need to quibble about a few extra dimensions here and there.
    For example:

    “The CERN collisions, some 200 million since March 30, in the 27 km (16.8 mile) LHC tunnel are recreating on a miniature scale what happened within nano-seconds of the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago that created the galaxies, stars — and life.”

    This is not bad at all. Quite good, some might even say. Why not? And this —

    “Six ultra-sophisticated detectors around the LHC record how the particles behave after being smashed together, transmitting the data for analysis to laboratories at CERN and in other research centres around the globe.

    Already the machine has identified many elements included in the so-called Standard Model that physicists created during the 20th century for how they believed the cosmos should and does work, said CERN scientist Andrei Golutvin.


    “To me, it is a miracle that the LHC is detecting the particles we expected from the Standard Model so early in this experiment. It shows just how well the LHC is functioning,” said Golutvin, spokesman for the LHCb.”

    Really that is all quite good.

    Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, the Daresbury lab invited reporters on a tour, showing them their sychrotron and their van-de-Graaf generator (which was the world’s tallest). An article subsequently appeared on the “world’s tallest synchrotron.” Eh …

    As for the LHC and the Big Bang, it was not so different for the SSC and the Big Bang. Indeed, I once was asked by some high school students in (near) Chicago, “We are confused about the reports on the SSC. It says the SSC will reach temperatures not seen since the Big Bang.” So I replied “Yes.” “But,” said the students, “the SSC is a *superconducting* machine. It operates at *cryogenic* temperatures close to absolute zero. How can it possibly reach the temperatures of the Big Bang?”

    Oy double vey … ?

    I said the first thing which popped into my head, which was “Why me?”

  4. Peter Woit says:


    Typically, as with this one, the article itself isn’t bad, but it’s sitting under a headline of ludicrous hype about string theory. Most people read the headline, don’t read the article.

  5. unreuters says:

    That is true of very many things besides string theory. Reuters is a business, and it has to sell, and the headline has to attract attention, and Reuters is not alone in this. There are many misrepresentations of things much worse than string theory, typically political subjects … but I drop the subject here.

  6. Robert says:

    Typically the headlines are not even formulated by the same people as the article.

  7. Paul says:

    “The CERN collisions, some 200 million since March 30, in the 27 km (16.8 mile) LHC tunnel are recreating on a miniature scale what happened within nano-seconds of the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago that created the galaxies, stars — and life.”

    This is not ok, the claims that LHC is a “Big Bang machine,” or studying Big Bang are pure BS. There is no scientific reason to link it to the hypothetical Big Bang, the collisions recreated are ubiquitous in the Universe and the results won’t tell us anything about the Big Bang itself.

    The conditions nanoseconds after the hypothetical Big Bang were completely different as the Universe was squeezed to an incredibly tiny fraction of it’s current size and we have no idea how dark matter, dark energy, visible matter or other as yet undiscovered mass and energy types behave in such conditions. And invoking hypothetical inflation breaks the link to Big Bang even further.

    The link to Big Bang is nothing but a publicity stunt, the LHC is not studying Big Bang and won’t tell us anything new about it, claiming that it will is ensuring that the public will see it as a failure.

  8. kumar says:

    An answer would be very welcome for the long awaiting physics community. But the real question, if LHC results are against string theory, whether will it be sufficient enough to convince the string theorists?

  9. Stop it, people. We insist with our century-old mistake – we give the same old image of a snotty-nosed set to whomever cares to read our mutterings. Let us instead start trying to offer the media with images that are as sensationalistic as they need them, but correct.

    Much harder than criticizing, ain’t it ?


  10. Joao Leao says:

    BING Bang? Is this in homage to Bing Crosby or did Microsoft buy the naming rights to the Big Bang? (With editors like this who needs copywriters?)

  11. John Baez says:

    Yes, it’s “Bing Bang”.

    Sing along with me: Uh Eeh Uh Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang!

  12. Yatima says:

    Next: Rappers rapping about the “Bling Bang”. Ok, this is silly. Back to work.

  13. thomas says:

    unreuters: awwww that hyschool studence story is so cute ^____^

  14. Claver says:

    Might it not be a ‘bling-ing’ bang? It wouldn’t just ‘bling’ would it? Or, maybe a ‘blings’ bang?

  15. Chris Oakley says:

    BLING, from the Urban Dictionary:

    As of 2007, commonly used to designate expensive new compact electronic accessories. Best examples are: 1) small, feature-packed cell phones. 2) small, high-megapixel digital cameras with huge RAM and bright LCD displays. 3) High-end MP3/video players. 4) Particle accelerators.

  16. Eric Baird says:

    So if the LHC is now “Bling”, where do we attach the big gold chain?

Comments are closed.