Large Machines and Tiny Particles | Craft and the #LHC


It’s been fascinating following the resurrection of CERN over the past year or so since the catastrophic failure of a few connections rendered it well and truly broke soon after it first came online. Things seem to be working very nicely now, but it struck me how extraordinary a piece of engineering this is: we have had to build the world’s largest machine in order to go looking for the worlds smallest particle.

Even if it fails to find evidence for Higg’s Bosun, the LHC is an incredible piece of work in itself. It stands alongside the Saturn 5 rocket, the Pyramids and Machu Picchu as one of humanity’s great feats of craftsmanship: engaged work by people from across a wide variety of disciplines building something that is far far greater than the sum of its parts.

In a sense, regardless of what it discovers, the LHC is the quintessential modern temple: an awesome place focused on that-which-is-still-other, a place for experimentation, for probing the limits of what we don’t know, and opening ourselves into new areas of the infinite.

Should humanity go up in smoke over the next century, it will be grand objects like the LHC that the next rulers of the earth will ponder over, and probably turn into a cathedral, to an unknown God.