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While it is exciting to watch the stories breaking today about the successful startup of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, I have to wonder about the price tag.
The total cost of the LHC is estimated at between €3.2 to €6.4 billion and while that is a wide margin, even if it is closer to the €3.2 billion mark that is still a huge amount of money to spend trying to confirm “the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model of physics”. And that is just the financial cost – the amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere by its build and operation must be staggering.
I would far prefer to see all this money and effort being channelled into renewable research. Imagine how much more advanced wind, solar and wave/tidal energies could be now if scientists had €4b of research grants to work with.
I’m a scientist by training and I don’t for a second underestimate the benefits to mankind of being able to explain how elementary particles acquire properties such as mass but I do think that with our polar ice caps melting and small island nations becoming submerged, our priorities on this one are a little mixed up.