Creating "Sparks"

Discussion of the end of the world brought about by ultra high energy colliders.
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Shadowdraxx
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Shadowdraxx » Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:39 pm

when talking in this section of the forum its important to note it relates to the next generation of Colliders not the LHC.

So please remember that, this thread really outta be in the Controversial topics section, if its about the LHC.

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:28 pm

March_Hare wrote:1. Can you define "impact"?
In what sense would a 20 megaton explosion on Earth be different from the same bomb (20 mT) exploding on the moon? If you mean blast, remember that blast is a trivial way of measuring things because the moon has no atmosphere.
Definitely blast because of the lack of atmosphere like you point out, light flash will be more or less the same, heat wave might also be compromised because of the cold environment. But to be sure one has to do the test.
March_Hare wrote:2. I don't think there'd be any fires to put out on the moon (no free oxygen to burn).
I know it's a bit like saying that the sun "burns" while technically it's called nuclear fusion.
March_Hare wrote:3. Fire is not the main thing that "makes" an atomic explosion; neither fission nor fusion bombs rely on fire (= chemical reaction). They rely on fission or fusion and on the energies released when that happens.
Perhaps a stupid question but would the sun "go out" if you used a fire extinguisher?

Edit: Or drop it in a bucket of water?
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:07 pm

ORION111 wrote:3. A big bucket of water on stellar scales is likely to cause a hypernova and turn the Sun into a massive black hole. This event will outshine the entire Milky Way galaxy - all of those four hundred billion stars.
I'm not so sure, the sun might split in to different gas bubbles such as in this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgC-ocnTTto

Anyway it makes no sense.
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 7:01 am

ORION111 wrote:
Chelle wrote:
ORION111 wrote:3. A big bucket of water on stellar scales is likely to cause a hypernova and turn the Sun into a massive black hole. This event will outshine the entire Milky Way galaxy - all of those four hundred billion stars.
I'm not so sure, the sun might split in to different gas bubbles such as in this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgC-ocnTTto

Anyway it makes no sense.
1. How would the mass separate?
Because the mass of the sun would be in a bigger mass being a "substance" that can't be water and would be rather a black hole ... if you poor just water on it would vaporize and the powder would be blown away ... the thought came just from how does one technically stop a nuclear fusion or fission reaction.
ORION111 wrote:2. Why doesn't it make sense?
Your idea of anything spectacular is quite ok, my idea of putting the sun in a bucket of water doesn't make any sense :crazy:
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by tswsl1989 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:59 am

Fission reactions can be slowed/stopped by reducing the number of free neutrons.
(I'm assuming you're aware of the basic model for fission, if not I can explain)
On the point about stopping a reaction:

In a fission reactor, the control rods are designed to moderate neutrons and slow them down, lowering these into the reactor reduces the energy of some of the neutrons below the minimum require for fusion.

Another option is to introduce a nuclear poison: A contaminant which is able to absorb a certain number of neutrons without undergoing fission. The wiki article gives some examples and a more detailed explanation: Nuclear Poisons on Wikipedia

Fusion reactors (e.g. ITER, JET) could be shutdown by cooling the plasma, or ceasing to inject more fuel into the reaction chamber. Containment loss would allow the plasma to expand (cooling it), and it would cool as it reached the reactor walls, as well as being contaminated by the materials around it. I'm not sure how we'd go about stopping fusion in the core of a star, I certainly don't think it's possible by any means we have at our disposal at the moment.

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:36 pm

tswsl1989 wrote:Fission reactions can be slowed/stopped by reducing the number of free neutrons. (I'm assuming you're aware of the basic model for fission, if not I can explain)
Hey that was very interesting, I do have some other questions if you don't mind;

1. Why is it that at these heavy atomic blasts neutrons only decay into protons, or vice versa, and not any further? Is it because they limit the amount of material or just the fact that any fusion-fission reaction hasn't got the force.

2. When colliding protons, them protons first scatter into smaller particles before becoming them (miracle) jets of mesons, why don't they just "jet" straight away? If I would drop a glass it would break into pieces but if I run over it with a bulldozer it would crumble into sand, is it something similar, would more force crumble a photon straight into jets? (Note: As always just letting my imagination run wild)
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by tswsl1989 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:34 am

Chelle wrote:1. Why is it that at these heavy atomic blasts neutrons only decay into protons, or vice versa, and not any further? Is it because they limit the amount of material or just the fact that any fusion-fission reaction hasn't got the force?
There isn't enough energy to create any of the more exotic particles we see in accelerator collisions. We don't see protons/neutrons splitting into smaller particles due to the strong force between the quarks. I think someone mentioned colour confinement earlier, but that might have been another thread, either way that is worth looking over.
Chelle wrote:2. When colliding protons, them protons first scatter into smaller particles before becoming them (miracle) jets of mesons, why don't they just "jet" straight away? [snip]
Ooh, good question. My current understanding of these collisions is that they do "jet" on impact, but the particles that form these jets decay and/or interact as they disperse. I'm not overly familiar with the exact mechanism and details of what happens at impact yet. One of my lecture modules this semester is on particle physics, and I'm pretty certain that this is covered, so I shall give you a better answer when I'm a little more sure myself! :)

(I'm a second year Physics Undergraduate)

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:02 pm

Chelle wrote:
chriwi wrote:also the wiki-page for Ultra-high energy cosmic rays doesn't state any process which would violate the theory of conservation of mass + energy and the general theory of relativity. Taken both of them a particle cannot contain more energy than implied by its mass (rest-mass + relativistic-mass) and thereby also cannot be transformed into something with higher energy+mass with out adding the missing mass+energy at the same time.
That's more or less the same as "Photino" said:
Photino wrote:because of Einstein's formula E = m c^2. It implies that we can find out the absolute maximum of the energy that can possibly be released from a proton - simply by weighing it.
Sorry for bugging you guys once again, but I got a question about E=mc^2 , and more specific about the speed of light. "c" is the speed of electromagnetic radiation, thus the speed of a wave, now this wave doesn't move through a medium like a water-wave does, it moves more like a water-snake on it's own. The speed of this wave is "c" but the wave goes up and down, so it actually moves faster than the wave itself, if the wave was a circle type of sinus than the speed of the wave would be 2πr vs 4r and "c" would be about 1.5 times faster on the most tiny scale, making the energy of a mass 2.25 times bigger. Is this pure crackpottery and does it makes no sense, or is this difference already embodied in more specific calculations?
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by tswsl1989 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:40 pm

This link might be helpful: Group Velocity (Wiki)

I can give a more mathematical explanation if you want, but I'll have to dig my notes out :)

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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:36 am

tswsl1989 wrote:This link might be helpful: Group Velocity (Wiki)

I can give a more mathematical explanation if you want, but I'll have to dig my notes out :)
No need to dig, I 've just checked that link and it's indeed what I was thinking about, and after digging myself I ended up at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superluminal_communication
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachyon
One curious effect is that, unlike ordinary particles, the speed of a tachyon increases as its energy decreases. (For ordinary bradyonic matter, E increases with increasing velocity, becoming arbitrarily large as v approaches c, the speed of light.) Therefore, just as bradyons are forbidden to break the light-speed barrier, so too are tachyons forbidden from slowing down to below c, since to reach the barrier from either above or below requires infinite energy.
Pffieew, this type of stuff can keep some one busy for the rest of his/her life :)

But to be more specific, how does this type of theories relate to the energy that is embedded in a proton?
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:04 pm

An interesting update on Cosmic Rays:
NASA's Fermi Closes on Source of Cosmic Rays

Young supernova remnants seem to possess both stronger magnetic fields and the highest-energy cosmic rays. Stronger fields can keep the highest-energy particles in the remnant’s shock wave long enough to speed them to the energies observed.

The Fermi observations show GeV gamma rays coming from places where the remnants are known to be interacting with cold, dense gas clouds.

“We think that protons accelerated in the remnant are colliding with gas atoms, causing the gamma-ray emission,” Funk said. An alternative explanation is that fast-moving electrons emit gamma rays as they fly past the nuclei of gas atoms. “For now, we can’t distinguish between these possibilities, but we expect that further observations with Fermi will help us to do so,” he added.

Either way, these observations validate the notion that supernova remnants act as enormous accelerators for cosmic particles.

Source: http://spacefellowship.com/news/art1860 ... -rays.html
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:42 pm

Hello, I've been discussing this "sparks" thing somewhere else after that "energy inconita" post and got an aswer to this old question of the difference between the LHC-beam an Cosmic ray particles:
Chelle wrote:
Maybe think of a hose nozzle - it can either be a tight beam (LHC), or a spray (Cosmic).
This is the comparison I'm wondering about, is it fair of the LHC to use cosmic-rays as an equal for their beams?
Here it is:
The alleged "beam" of the LHC isn't even actually a beam, per se, but rather a series of bunches of particles. Each bunch would contain millions of protons (or Lead nuclei if Lead is accelerated) in a very small volume. But the spacing between the particles in the bunch is on the order of 1,000 times the 'diameter' of the particle. Perhaps Khukri could post better detail on this. I believe the spacing might actually be closer to 10,000X the diameter of a proton. And almost all of the particles in the bunch, when it 'collides' with a bunch going in the opposite direction, simply pass by each other without interaction, zipping around the LHC ring for another go at collision. That is because of the very wide spacing between particles. Only on rare occasion do some collide, and then it is not usually head-on. So as a consequence, even with millions of particles in each bunch, only a few actually collide. There is not much opportunity for multiple interactions from nearby adjacent particles. Check also this link: http://www.lhc-closer.es/php/index.php?i=1&s=3&p=1&e=0
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chelle » Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:52 am

Hello everybody :wave:

I've been asking my question at Dr. David P. Stern autor of the website: Educational Web Sites on Astronomy, Physics, Spaceflight and the Earth's Magnetism (http://www.phy6.org/), and he has given me a lot of answers, perhaps some of you might be interested. Here's a report of the emails I've send and got back. My questions are in white his replies in yellow.

-------------

Question 1:

I've been trying to catch up on cosmic-rays and such, after all the fuzz about the recent startup of the lhc particle accelerator here in Europe. And I have some questions, … perhaps you might solve the mysteries:

In the experiment particles are speed up to high speeds and collide, smashing protons into "jets". I asked some people if these jets could also smash up surrounding protons and I always get the answer no because jets have far less energy. But they can never tell the energy difference, so the question that I have is how much energy do these jets actually have compared to the accelerated protons, in the sense of striking force. And what is actually the minimum striking force needed to make a single proton disperse?

--

The particles generated by jets CAN create secondary jets, and these can generate more and more jets, as long as enough energy is available.

In the 1930s Pierre Auger in France found that if one spread an array of Geiger counters (http://www.phy6.org/Education/wgeiger.html) across a field and timed their discharges, often several would fire simultaneously--more if they were placed near each other, fewer as the distances increased. He deduced that an "air shower" was created by cosmic ray collisions high up, which produced gamma rays (from the decay of neutral pions), which by pair production produced pairs of electrons and positrons, which created more gamma rays by bremsstrahlung and annihilation… producing a simultaneous shower of thousand or millions of electrons, positrons and gamma rays on the ground. From that he deduced the existence of a few very high-energy cosmic ray primaries. The "Hess Observatory" (http://www.phy6.org/Education/wcosray.html) detects such showers.

But the shower also contained particles which could penetrate a thick lead shield, or be observed deep underground. They were mostly identified as muons. The idea is that when a primary cosmic ray charged particle hits an atmospheric nucleus, it also creates charged pions and all sorts of heavier particles . Charged pions decay to muons, some of whom are detectable underground, but others, with enough energy (which by special relativity extends their lifetime in the frame of the atmosphere), create further nuclear collisions and jets, and so on, yielding a "nucleonic shower". Those particles are fewer that the electrons (and absent in showers initiated by gamma rays, as seen by the "Hess Observatory) and form a more compact shower, but they do exist, and suggest cosmic ray primaries with energies up to 10^20 electron volt (though they are rare, months apart).

See also under "Pierre Auger Observatory."


-------------

Question 2:

The particles generated by jets CAN create secondary jets, and these can generate more and more jets, as long as enough energy is available.


If they can keep on generating jets, isn't than the thing done at the lhc, a bit of a risky business? Because primary-cosmic-ray collisions happen far away at 20 km above the ground, on the top of our atmosphere, where the air is very thin and it softly borders space, so shock-wave energy from the "bang" can be lost into open space. This in contrast to ground-level experiments, where there is a lot more atmospheric pressure, the density of matter is far higher, and it is much warmer here, so a lot more energetic matter existing down here than Up there. Also in nature the showers can run for miles and miles, while the air gets gradually thicker, and they start off from only one particle bumping into a stationary atom, in contrast to the head-on collisions of accelerated particles. People say that if it was dangerous, the moon would have been done already some seriously harm, but it actually is a to dust reduced place, that smells like gunpowder, with no atmospheric pressure and it's icy cold, I don't think that it is a good reference of an unharmed place?


--

The LHC and other high-energy accelerators indeed produce high energy showers, which is one reason why they are constructed in tunnels underground. The people working with such devices are well aware of radiation (I would not be surprised is they wore film badges, developed periodically to assess the total irradiation dose).

Among the biggest an most costly attachments to such accelerator are observing arrays. If you look at a picture of a high energy jet on film (like the one on my web page), all you see is straight lines: once a charged particle approaches the velocity of light, the track it leaves on he film gives no clue to its energy (except that it exceeds some minimum). The arrays have many detectors of various kinds, also plates in which secondary showers are produced (and maybe magnets to separate positive from negative--not sure). The tracks are recorded and analyzed by a computer, a difficult business.

The radiation hazard of natural cosmic rays is small. They pack about as much energy as starlight. The "shock waves" produced are actually light waves, which is what the HESS array observes.



-------------

Question 3:

During the millions of collisions at the new particle accelerator, there is talk that there are going to be temperatures reached far higher than in the sun, and this at a very tiny spot, while jets will be bursting in all directions.

Isn't it possible that it might trigger a sub-atomic-chain-reaction where a bunch of surrounding nuclei could be smashed and start to jet and jam? Generating shockwaves that release light, but also heat and radiation, like the ignition of a nuclear bomb causes atoms to split. But these bombs are made out of very rare atoms that are specially enriched and they need to be tampered.

In contrast to such a sophisticated bomb, you can simply start a forest-fire by lighting a match when the woods are dry. I once read that the rocks who build up our planet, are actually a crystalized concrete made of condensed gas, so one could say that these rocks are dried up material, and with enough heat they could start to combust in an autocatalytic way.

I know this sounds like a Superman type of scenario, and I have let my imagination run wild. So to keep myself in check, I find it interesting to know, what the actual energy difference would be between the accelerated protons that crush each other, and the jets that they produce, and if them jets would be at some point, powerful enough to be within the range of having nuclei-smashing-abilities. Isn't it for such an off the wall type of concept important to know what the produced energy levels of jets are?

--

One thing seems to hold (so far!) for all processes in the universe--the conservation of energy. Atoms can be smashed or transformed, but the total energy stays the same. Yes, we can release energy by nuclear fission, by taking advantage of unstable heavy nuclei (see http://www.phy6.org/stargaze/SnucEnerA-0.htm and pages linked from there), and energy can be released to more familiar forms by nuclear fusion and gravitational collapse, but these are not relevant here.

What I want to stress is that when a very fast cosmic ray proton smashes into an atmospheric proton (say) and produces a jet, its energy is shared by the fragments, and further collisions only further subdivide the energy. No new energy is added, no sub-atomic chain reaction.

On the atomic scale, that energy can seem enormous, but on the scale of objects you and I can see (sticks and stones, and grains of sand) it is usually negligible. The "shock wave" is a very brief flash of light ("cherenkov radiation") caused when a particle moves through air faster than light (faster than light IN AIR, but not faster than light in a vacuum, the top speed of anything). As explained in the section on HESS in "cosmic rays" (http://www.phy6.org/Education/wcosray.html), it may take sensitive light detectors and large mirrors to detect such flashes.

The dust on the moon probably comes from meteorite impacts, most of them early in the history of the solar system. And no, rocks won't burn: even on if placed on the Sun, they may evaporate in the heat, but won't release energy, just absorb it.


-------------

Question 4:

What I want to stress is that when a very fast cosmic ray proton smashes into an atmospheric proton (say) and produces a jet, its energy is shared by the fragments, and further collisions only further subdivide the energy. No new energy is added, no sub-atomic chain reaction.


I think the above quote is where I am/was looking for "the energy" that might sustain an chain-reaction, like the heat of a candle keeps it burning, but I guess I have misunderstood how nuclei work.

I thought that a certain amount of energy during the collision, disrupted the binding interaction within the proton and that it was mainly this energy that was released. Like some sort of spring-mechanism that makes the quarks and the gluons in the proton going, and gives the solidity to the proton, a bit like a spinning top has a lot of energy, while it actually stands still. And once the mechanism would be broken, the different parts of the protons could shoot into different directions, and jet.

I guess I have a lot of catching up to do …

--

Yes you have a lot of catching up to do, but you are on the right track. Forces that hold matter together are mostly attractive--gravity, nuclear forces, even electric forces between negative electrons and positive nuclei, they hold particles together, though they and nuclear forces really operate by quantum laws (and certainly quark forces, which hold nuclear particles together--won't discuss those).

Thus to smash a nucleus apart, you must usually INVEST energy to overcome nuclear attraction-- you cannot extract any. That's why creating high-energy jets puts in energy and does not add to it--just distributes it among more and more particles. When protons combine to helium in the core of the Sun, they release nuclear energy--as gamma rays and fast particles, which keeps the Sun hot and puffed up.

There exists one exception. Because of the nuclear weak force, nuclei contain about equal numbers of positive protons and neutral neutrons, and these protons repel each other electrically. Furthermore, the electric force has a longer range than the nuclear force: the nuclear attraction is mainly to neighboring protons and neutrons, but the repulsion affects the entire nucleus.

Suppose we build up a nucleus by adding protons and neutrons one by one. Because of the nuclear attraction, energy is released--e.g. when creating helium, which is what heats the Sun. But after a while, adding a proton does not gain as much energy--true, nuclear attraction energy is released, but energy must be invested to bring close together many protons, which repel each other electrically. The break-even point is reached in iron--see graph in http://www.phy6.org/stargaze/Sun7enrg.htm --and beyond that, energy must be given to a nucleus to make it accept more protons. (These elements exist because they were created in supernova collapses in our galaxy, before the solar system existed). Very heavy nuclei--like uranium and thorium--even break up spontaneously (by alpha radioactivity), because of this repulsion of positive charge. Even heavier nuclei (created artificially) can break up by spontaneous fission into two nuclei of about 1/3 and 2/3 the mass, a process which releases even more energy than radioactivity. Our nuclear reactors and bombs operate by inducing fission artificially, which is just barely possible in some heavy nuclei bombarded by neutrons. See http://www.phy6.org/stargaze/Snuclear.htm

This is the one case where nuclear breakup liberates energy. Jets from high-energy collisions don't do it.
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by chriwi » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:30 pm

Interesting comments, but I cannot help to say: most of them are not exactly referring to the questions asked, but they sure contain backgroundknowledge which helps to make your own thoughts about the questions.

The most important answer is the one about the conservation of energy, combined with the fact that all known outcomes of destruction of protons or small nuclei (lighter than iron) contain more enrgy than the things started with, so that energy is onlyconsumed but not released.

The only possibility for a katastrophy would be that the debree of the collissions would be something in a stable lower energetic state than the matter + energy consumed and therby releasing energy by the process. fortunately non of theese lower energy debree are known or firmly postulated by now. But since they not spend all the money alredy knowing everything what will happen, there is always the slight chancesomething unpredicted will happen and that can be good or bad either way, most likely it will be only surprising and not affecting the rest of the world at all.
The slight chance that really somthing dangerous will happen is in my opinion as dangerous as stop advance in scinence and only wait for any outside cosmic event which will extinguish umanity earlyer or later. In myopinion we have to continue also knowing that we take minor risks, otherwise it is sure the sun will burn out some day and if we haven't learned enough to do interstellar travel at that time that will be the end anyways.

The problem is alway: we cannot know everything in advance and if we would we didn't have to build mashines like the LHC to find out what happens if we do certain things.
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Re: Creating "Sparks"

Post by Stephen » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:06 pm

Thank you for posting these answers here, Chelle. According to this guy, the law of conservation of energy indeed prevents a chain reaction from happening. It reassures me a little.
chriwi wrote:In my opinion we have to continue also knowing that we take minor risks
I strongly disagree. If there is minor risk of the world ending by a certain scientific experiment, it must be stopped. Just because you think it is worth the risk, doesn't mean that you can decide it for the rest of the world and put the entire planet on the line. However, there is evidence to suggest that the LHC can't possibly pose any threat to the earth, so it doesn't apply in this particular case.

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