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Large Hadron Collider-Was It Really Necessary?

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By Pankaj Khandelwal:

Alright, it’s about a week since the discovery of the Higgs boson particle and all the global media fanfare it received. All of these media houses, influential people from the field of science and other walks of life praised the discovery. Out of so much of hullabaloo, it’s time to ponder whether we really needed this advancement.

For the starters let me explain what was the exact purpose of building the Large Hadron Collider. Wikipedia puts this as “answer some of the fundamental open questions in physics, concerning the basic laws governing the interactions and forces among the elementary objects, the deep structure of space and time, and in particular the interrelation between quantum mechanics and general relativity, where current theories and knowledge are unclear or break down altogether.” In layman’s terms it was built to increase our knowledge about the universe. Made with the budget of nearly $9bn or Rs.4950bn as of 2010 was this instrument really necessary for the world at the time when half of the world economy is under crisis. For the sake of comparison, 51 countries have a GDP less than $9bn. With vast amount of money involved, it makes me wonder how necessary this experiment was.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there were nearly 925million (2010) hungry people in the world, with major chunk of them residing in Asia Pacific region. Every year 15 million children die around the world due to hunger. Apart from the food problems, the problem of illiteracy is also hurting the world. Over 793 million people in the world are illiterate and for the astonishing part 32million people in United States lack basic literacy. With lots of other problems prevailing throughout the world, couldn’t this money be used for tackling these problems? What will the common man gain from the discovery of Higgs boson when the probability of his or her being alive is too thin? Why will a citizen, of any country supporting this experiment financially, be excited about this achievement when he cannot keep his family nourished? When most of the people are illiterate what sense will it make to them when they hear about this discovery? Moreover the discovery of these particles doesn’t answer all of the questions about the existence of the universe. This is just a stepping stone and much larger experiments need to be conducted to get a clear picture about the Universe. Conducting experiments which can influence a larger amount of people is the need of the hour.

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  1. Pranay Manocha

    Pankaj, you’ve presented a very simplistic and uneducated view in this article. Firstly, $9 billion is equal to Rs.495 billion, or 49,500 crores – and not Rs.4,950bn as you put it.
    The Large Hadron Collider should be able to prove that the Higgs Boson exists or does not. Either way, it will improve our understanding of the universe. With improved understanding will come the next great innovations in science, technology and space exploration, that will most likely have an impact on what we use here on Earth and how we solve more common, everyday problems.
    $9 billion is a pretty paltry sum given the number of countries (110) and physicists involved (as far as I remember India has paid only a very small percentage of this figure). These are some of the best brains of our times and collectively, they decided that we need to conduct an experiment and that it was technologically possible to do so. So the question is, if we know how to understand something this fundamental, should resources really be held back because so many of the world’s population is hungry?
    It is not like this $9 billion would’ve gone to feed all the hungry mouths. This money would have been devoted to Science anyway. This experiment will inspire thousands of kids, who will perhaps take up Physics or other related disciplines one day.
    To put it in perspective, the Large Hadron Collider has cost ‘humanity’ $9 billion, which is 25% of the estimated size of the 2G scam in India and is less than 80% of the amount Indians waste on tobacco products each year. Indians probably spend more money refurbishing temples than the whole world has spent on one essential experiement!
    Bottomline – please don’t try to find farcical ways of discouraging scientific progress. Your efforts will be much better utilised encouraging our politicians to be less corrupt or asking people to give up smoking.

    1. Subhayan Mukerjee

      is there any way I can ‘like’, ‘tweet’ or ‘+1’ just this comment?

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