Now This is Science
At security posts dotted around the fields between the Jura mountains and Lake Geneva, scientists are installing high-tech retina scans above shafts descending 80m down — and leading to the largest scientific instrument ever built.The machine is being bolted together inside a tunnel 27km long, and when the power is thrown on next year it will recreate conditions unknown for 14-billion years since the extraordinary fireball that marked the beginning of the universe — the big bang which blasted time and space into existence.
In the coming months engineers using cranes will lower sections of detectors weighing several thousand tons into caverns carved in the tunnel. They will wire in some of the world’s largest magnets and test run the machine’s computer, built to handle a torrent of data equivalent to 150 times the content of the world wide web each year.
The machine, the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, Europe’s particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, was commissioned as a £4,2-billion sledgehammer to crack some of the most compelling mysteries of the universe.
This is what real scientists are doing to examine the questions about the creation of the universe. This is Big Science, the lengths that scientists are willing to go to in order to answer the most exciting questions in human history. They will slam particles into each other at nearly the speed of light, at a rate of 800-million a second, and then spend years painstakingly sifting through the subatomic debris. They will examine the evidence, adjust their hypotheses to reflect the evidence, or find support for their theories, and publish their findings for the scrutiny of their peers around the world. And in doing so, they will yet again narrow the gaps in which fantasy may still exist, filling them up with what we know of reality. This is science at its grandest scale, and it is truly awesome.
Of course, it leads me to wonder, what are the ‘creation scientists’ and ‘intelligent design scientists’ doing to investigate the creation of the universe? What are they doing to test their theories, to question their assumptions? They are claiming to answer the big questions, so where is their big science? Where are their super-conducting super-colliders, their orbiting telescopes, their interplanetary satellites, their underground neutrino detectors? Where are their Very Long Baseline Radio Arrays, their billion dollar laboratories spanning across the borders of countries, their Nobel Prizes? Where is their version of the Human Genome Project to discover the signature of God on our DNA? Where is their avian flu vaccine based on the intelligent design theory of virus mutation? Where is their explanation of the Cosmic Background Microwave Radiation? Where, in any list of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century, will you find anything discovered by one of these ‘scientists’?
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, science is as science does. Just calling yourself a scientist isn’t fooling anyone.