20 September 2008

And while we're nit-picking...

"[CERN spokesman] Gillies said the sector that was damaged will have to be warmed well above the absolute zero temperature used for operations so repairs can be made, a time-consuming process."

(emphasis mine)
CNN/AP article

1.9K is as far from absolute zero as 0.999c is from the speed of light. Neither absolute zero nor the speed of light are actually reachable. It's like saying "the winds from Hurricane Ike were infinitely strong" or "gasoline prices today were infinitely high." Neither of those are true, and doesn't get across the real information that would let people prepare properly. Similarly, saying that the LHC operates at absolute zero or at the speed of light just misses the point and is shoddy reporting.

Thanks for the many responses to my last post guys! Even if you don't agree with my perspective, I appreciate it when people take the time to think about the science involved, and where the language of science is different from everyday English. I'm hoping to make a post to address a couple points people made specifically, but don't hold your breath on it b/c I've got to write a few quizzes and grade some labs this weekend.

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