I happened to log in to Yahoo News last night around midnight and, to my surprise, the top story, again, was the LHC. This time due to the late reported transformer failure at CERN. But first the positive: this was the third time this week that we were the lead story on Yahoo. First the actual turn-on, then the hacker attack and now the transformer failure. You could turn that into the negative by saying that when we didn’t destroy the Earth we were at least fodder for the internet because of hacker attacks and equipment failure, but to all those naysayers I say: the word ‘atom smasher’ is by now engrained in everybody’s brain and that is a mighty good thing. First year undergraduate students come up to me after class and tell me that they have heard that I am working on this enormous physics enterprise, the world’s largest accelerator, and that we might unravel some major science mysteries. That is a great start, because we can capture them even further by telling them the details of our exciting field, and because we are professionals who know how to deal with the negative publicity. Equipment failures are common in the startup phase of such highly sophisticated machines and hacker attacks are our speciality. So we will find you, buddy ! And besides, our hack attack paled in terms of news coverage in comparison to the people who got access to Sarah Palin’s e-mail account.
In a time of wall-to-wall political coverage, a major financical crisis, a war and two political campaigns spending several hundred Million Dollars each to capture your vote, it is reaffirming to see what human beings are are capable of when it comes to creative applications of their strength. So let’s celebrate the purpose and resolve and ingenuity of this project in this time of wastefulness. Yes we can.