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LHC's real-world potential

  1. Apr 22, 2010 #1
    Hi! What are the most exciting potentials for current and future experiments done at the LHC?
    Really, I'd like to know what type of impact we can expect to see at a practical level. Any new technologies that may arise from these studies? How will studies at LHC affect our every-day world? For example: I think there was talk that findings at the LHC could help with the development of quantum computers - which would have a HUGE impact on our world.

    Practical applications are really my interest here, but I'm also interested in any academic or intellectual findings. E.g I know one of the things we are looking for is the Higgs Boson and that in itself is very interesting. But I would like to know what practical uses we may find for this knowledge.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2010 #2


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    I am not sure if the results are worth money put in, but I am sure that there are already many patents based on engineering solutions/inentions that were necesary to design and make LHC together with all detectors, compouters and so on. Similar to what have happened with the Moon landing - not much use for that particular trip destination, but huge technological boost.
  4. Apr 22, 2010 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Well, if it weren't for previous HEP experiments, there wouldn't be a WWW, and nobody would be reading this.

    Otherwise, it's kind of an odd question, as it asks for the uses of a discovery before the discovery itself has been made.
  5. Apr 22, 2010 #4

    Heh there's a thought. Simply constructing the LHC has created new products and technologies for us to use.
    I think that's similar to the motion sensors that are used in Nintendo's Wii. The sensors are old(ish) technology from something else. I wonder if any LHC tech will make it into the next Wii?
    I never really got into Wii aerobics.. Wii particle annihilation would be quite fun though :rofl:

    And I think its very hard to compare fiscal costs to physical benefits. As you say, the moon landings cost so much money for seemingly very little. But they indirectly produced a huge technology boost.

    So are there any really exciting benefits from the LHC that may come about indirectly?
  6. Apr 22, 2010 #5
    Yeah I guess so. But don't we have a rough idea of what to expect? And can then make guesses of technological out-comes based on our expectations?

    For example if the Higgs boson is discovered it will allow great technological advances in the area of anti-gravity. ok, probably not anti-grav but you know what I mean. ?
  7. Apr 22, 2010 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    A hundred years ago people were trying to understand the light from hot gasses. How could they predict that this would lead to the computer?
  8. Apr 22, 2010 #7
    I found an interesting blog/article (or just 'blarticle') about this:

    Some notable bits are:

    "...Despite the "doomsday" rhetoric the technological possibilities from LHC science are much larger as well as obtaining a better cosmological understanding of the universe..."

    "...[the LHC] may help scientists treat diseases, improve the Internet, and open the door to travel through extra dimensions..."

    "...Such potential breakthroughs are often an "ancillary benefit"... "

    "...these benefits are a misguided way to justify building the atom smasher. "It's like trying to argue that manned space missions were useful for Tang," he said, referring to the powdered drink mix popularized in U.S. households by NASA in the 1960s..."

    "...Technologies developed for earlier atom smashers... ...are today ingrained in mainstream society... ...Positron emission tomography (PET) scans, for example, are common at most major hospitals..."

    "...And more medical professionals are turning to proton beams similar to those used in the LHC to blast away tumors deep inside bodies..."

    "...Future spin-offs from the LHC are less certain. "We don't know what we're going to find out," Parker said..."

    "...Our job as scientists is to explain that these esoteric things [such as dark matter] are not completely unrelated to humanity," he added. "Ultimately, we address the questions of how we got here and what we're made of..."

    "...If it all works out, you'll get a better understanding of what you're doing here," he said. "And, to me, that is the greatest benefit of science..."

    Hear, hear. If I find any exciting speculative uses for LHC discoveries (predicted ones, obviously) I'll post them up here. I'm sure I've seen one about quantum computing somewhere. If anyone else knows any exciting potentials, please let me know.

  9. Apr 22, 2010 #8
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