The Presumptions Of Idiots

Whenever Brian is on telly he gets inundated with emails from every type of whackjob imaginable. There are the people with bizarre theories about some scientific topic or another – they are never scientists, just people with bizarre theories. Then there are the typical anti-science or religious people who scream at him that he’s evil and he’s going to destroy the planet/universe/Europe. There are the New Age people who tell him he’s evil because he refuted their claims that their necklace/magic box/cream can protect people from electromagnetic radiation. There are the unthinking people who tell him he’s evil because he supports nuclear power and knows that their beliefs don’t stand up to fact. He’s had everything from common abuse to threats of lawsuits.

He shows me only a few of them cos, well, I get upset. How would you feel if someone said shitty things about someone you loved? “I think your mother/girlfriend/son is EVIL!!” You’d kinda want to tear them apart, right? Well, that’s me with Brian. I’m a fricken lioness protecting my family.

Then there are the emails from people who are pro-science but HATE the fact that he’s working to popularise it in order to inspire the population generally and younger people specifically in order to get more people ‘doing’ science. These people are never working scientists. They tend to be ‘older’ – if not biologically, then psychologically (ie dull as hell). They seem to hate the general public. Some even sign their emails with their qualifications ie Joe Bloggs, BSc., Dr. Joseph Bloggs (retired)- They always complain about how simplistic the programme was, how Brian’s an idiot for ‘dumbing down’ science, how he has no right to explain things in a way that a non-scientist can understand.

They seem to want science to remain ‘complicated’, ‘difficult’ and ‘mysterious’. They don’t WANT the average person to understand it. They believe because they understand it, they are part of an exclusive club which is somehow more important than the rest and that Brian is bashing down the door to that club and letting just any old person in. Which, of course, is exactly what he’s trying to do.

Again, Brian tends not to show me many of these, nor does he answer these people that often. Sometimes, however- when he’s not too busy with his actual job of BEING A SCIENTIST – he’ll engage them in a discussion about why people need to learn more about and understand science. They tend to just slip away or back down within an email or two.


Last night, after a fab night out when Sizemore and LondonFilmGeek, Claire and her friend Bruce, Charlie, ‘Annie Mole’ and I were out at the Coach and Horses, both Brian and I received the following email, yet it was addressed only to me:

Subject: Worst Horizon Program For Years


Your comments are typical of the lightweight epidemic which demands that Science should be dumbed down to look cool for media types who have absolute-zero attention spans. Maybe that explains why the “Sunshine” film was such a load of parp. Science is about dedication, not limelight. Please stay away until you understand this!

The Horizon program with Brian Cox was largely bloody awful and seemed at times more about showing a road trip and teaching baby physics, rather than taking it as read that those who have watched Horizon for over 20 years, watch it because they are beyond the basic baby-book science. 40 mins before it even got close to the real cutting edge. Sadly, I never thought I would see a Horizon program so suitable for broadcasting on CBBC.

I have no idea who Brian Cox is, but it seems we should be impressed by his media background. WTF?

One of my old friends is a CERN scientist, and I should think he would find the program laughable too.

If Dr Cox is as intelligent as I am sure we are to believe, he has done nothing to assure his credibility – so, on the undertsanding that paradox has not escaped you, just what are we to believe?

(name deleted)

First off I have to say that I was castigated by Ralph in the comments for outing the (vague) location of a commenter – I accepted his criticism and removed my comment. Ralph and Jim have been unfortunate victims of my lack of patience with the willfully ignorant. It’s not their fault that I don’t have patience for those types of people any more and they probably think I’m a bitch. Whatever. It *is* their fault, however, that they choose to remain ignorant. (*ahem*)… I understand that the above is an email sent to me and that the sender’s details *should* remain private, but I am THIS CLOSE to publishing his name, company details, phone number and email address. He is the president of a company which works with very high profile blue-chip companies and I feel he should EITHER be far more grown up than to send petty and abusive emails to the WIFE of the presenter of a programme he didn’t like OR he should be able to publicly take responsibility for the abusive remarks he makes whilst signing off his emails with his title and company details from his work email address. I am using ALL of my willpower to not type his name…D. E. N… Ok. I can control myself… *and breathe*

Now, Brian is my husband, the man I love and want to be with for the rest of my life. The man who makes my heart swell when I look at him even after 7 years together. We’ve seen each other at our best and our worst- happy, sad, angry, excited, with messy morning hair and bad morning breath, laughing til we cry with friends, vomiting in the toilet after drinking too much beer… We’ve had screaming rows and delicious make-ups. And I love him more and more as the days and weeks and years go by and hope that love continues to grow until we are old, gray and rickety. He. Is. My. Husband.

Why the fuck does that idiot think that it is remotely appropriate to send that email to me? Seriously. Brian wrote and presented a programme that this person didn’t like. That’s it. I mean, why does he feel the correct thing to do after watching a programme he didn’t like is to send an insulting email to the wife of the person in that programme?! Seriously. As he so eruditely said: WTF?

My first thought was that perhaps he didn’t realise that Brian and I are married and that he was just being a wanker with an opinion…but then he CCed Brian on the email! Surely, he would only do that if he realised there was some kind of connection and wanted Brian to see his remarks, right? He went through the process of finding both of us on the web, getting our email addresses and writing a nasty email directed to me about my husband.

Then I wondered why the hell he felt the need to say anything to either of us at all? What kind of tiny little man must he be?

Anyway, Brian wrote a short and snarky reply back to him and he’s replied back. Just like all of these science fundie wankers, he’s backed down really quickly and is trying to be reasonable. Backtracking like a weaselly little fool.

He says in his second email: “Science is not politically correct or a democracy. It has no friends. Only devotees. To such extent, Science-discovery demands a apartheid in favour of those who understand this. Touchy feely types should keep out.” Which put his “Sunshine was parp” comment into context. I’m afraid I worked out long ago that anyone who professes an interest in science and doesn’t like ‘Sunshine’ is, in reality, a dull, tiny-minded and emotionless twat.

I am now holding myself back from sending *my* reply to him.

48 Responses to “The Presumptions Of Idiots”
  1. Hugh says:

    Hear hear.

    And here’s hoping that he reads your blog (I’d imagine that that’s from where he knew you had some connection to the program in the first place)

    Why anyone would feel the need to send this kind of email is beyond me, but I think the internet as a whole has proven that I don’t understand a large proportion of the people on this planet…. Would he say the same thing to your face with Brian standing next to you? If so, then he’s a bigger arsehole that he’s already come across. If not, then he needs a bit of a reality check…

    Oh, and I thoroughly approve of your choice of pub! The Coach and Horses has been my work local for the past year or so…

  2. Jim says:

    Gia, I don’t think anything bad about you, but there’s a world of information out there which almost anyone can discover with a little research.

    To the guy that email Gia, lighten up! You sound like a whiny little #@$7*%.

  3. Nick says:

    Don’t say anything to him, or about him. Revenge often cheapens everyone involved, and I don’t think you want to get into that. And people who are highly accomplished in one field or another often believe that competence extends into others (my experience is with MD’s. They have opinion they often state as fact about everything!). The advice he provides as President of his company may help those he interacts with, and his company shouldn’t be punished just because the boss may be an idiot.
    But sending you the email rather then Brian? Wimpy. Then CC’ing Brian while claiming not to know who he is? Dumb. But don’t punish him just because he’s an idiot. If you punished every idiot who happens to be in a position of power you’d be way too busy to spend any time with the family you obviously love so much.

  4. Francine says:

    Those sorts of people make me so mad! I get them on a smaller scale for some of the articles I write, most of which I could hardly consider offensive. Don’t let them bring you down (I know, easier said than done).

    I loved the clips of the show you put up here and was totally disappointed that when I went to try to watch it online it wouldn’t play on my Mac. If you have a link to a Mac-friendly version, please post it :)

  5. jasmine says:

    I bet he didn’t like 2001 either.

  6. giagia says:

    Jim, yes, there may be “information”, but is it based in fact or misunderstanding? The question that Brian asked (which I posted in another comment): Why do you believe scientists when they say they might be able to create black holes, yet you don’t believe them when they say they would be so miniscule that they’d dissipate immediately? Why believe half of what they say?

    Nick, I have written a cathartic reply which I won’t end up sending. :)

    Francine, thank you so much! I have to try and ignore a lot of stuff actually. Apart from the ill-informed or the bitter, he also has got messages from women verging on marriage proposals – though admittedly that happens more often when he’s on telly in the States. If I’m feeling particularly hormonal and rubbish, that’s not the easiest thing to deal with. He won’t even tell me about those ones anymore! Ha!

    Jasmine, actually he’s probably the type that thinks ‘2001’ is the only science fiction film there should have ever been… thank you, lovely. xxx

  7. For my Part I loved the show but then I think Horizon does some excellent ( and okay a few naff ) programmes and this was one of the better shows.

    Why ?

    Well for one thing Brian managed to talk about gravity without the bloody annoying Steel Ball on a rubber sheet explanation that every one seems to trot out.

    The reference to Apollo Mission mirrors left upon the Moon and the fact that there are still observatories measuring and utilising the maths from this. Were updating technology like crazy and these guys are still reusing an idea from over 30 years ago!

    Physics requires lasers and mirrors and really BIG installations all to examine things that are so incredibly tiny their description alone requires new ways of explaining steel balls on rubber sheets.

    It avoided being a straight to camera lecture

    There seems little in the media today that can grab anyones imagination and desires outside of sporting more goldchains and hoping for 15 mins of fame with Claudia Winkleman .

    Science needs more exposure than the Discovery channel and the chaps at Mythbusters ( dont get me started on Brainiac ! ) and I for one wonder what will inspire my own children look further than the clothes rail and magazine racks.

    Keep it up and keep kicking the ant piles Gia.


  8. Jim says:

    Gia, I’m gona pass these questions to Ralph, since that’s who Brian originally asked.

    Good night. :)

    Gia: ^_^ Night.

  9. Ciaran says:


    That letter is fantastic. Flame of the week material.

    Don’t take it as anything more than that. If we’d watched the show he has in his head, it would have been a 50 minute calculus lesson, delivered like a 1980’s OU 2am broadcast. (Secretly, I’d have probably still watched, but then it’d only be me and your commentator). Whether he’d have understood it is a separate debate altogether.

    So, how dare Brian try to enlighten the great unwashed in the area of physics. Next thing you know, they’ll be on the internet reading research papers, and we can’t have that. :P

    Just bin it.

    P.S. The bit that made me roar was “WTF”. He may as well have written the rest of it in LOLCATZ for all I was concerned.

  10. giagia says:

    Ciaran, ROFLMAO! I’ve calmed down about it now.

    I’ve *never* been good with ‘members of the public’ getting in touch. My very first job in tv was on a kids’ channel. I used to get the most pervy and terrible letters from 30+ year old viewers (yes, of a kids’ channel) who still lived with their parents. They felt it was appropriate to regale me with their perverted fantasies about me. :-/

    My second job on the same channel was co-presenting with Michaela Strachan. She was at the height of being stalked by a maniac who ended up getting sectioned… the letters were 20+ pages long, hand written and getting increasingly violent until it was obvious that he was going to do something v nasty.

    Then at Sky I either got love letters or hate mail. People would come up to me at games and either go all gooey or shout at me (“You think you’re so fucking great, bitch!”) Interestingly, all the ‘love’ never made up for the ‘hate’.

    I was working at the BBC when Jill Dando was killed. The BBC immediately went over-protective of their presenters. Completely unrelated to telly, one night a man came into my house with a knife. My ex pushed him out the door and we called the cops. End of. I mentioned it to my producer at the Beeb and they went on paranoid crackdown. I couldn’t go anywhere without being driven in a BBC cab. That’s when I started to really get worried about everything.

    In 2000 I was working at a channel in London and got an email from someone saying they liked my programmes. I replied in a friendly way and got a reply back from him saying he thought I was fit etc then went on to describe my car. After the Jill Dando paranoia I went through at the Beeb, I pretty much freaked out.

    I really just can’t understand how ‘viewers’ can forget that the people on telly are just people. It really does make me think they’ve got a screw loose.

  11. Ralph says:

    Gia, I had a huge response for Brian, but I forgot to add the sum for the spam protection, so I lost it all!

    I’ll rewrite it tomorrow if I have time. Took me a couple of hours. Ou… Brian got off easy tonight!

    Gia, I like ya, and don’t think you’re a b—-. :)


  12. Annie Mole says:


    Glad to see you’ve calmed down but like you I would have been spitting and screaming. As you say he would have clearly known you are husband and wife & he’s an arse for cc’ing Brian that and typical that he backed down in the end. Someone in that position should think before sending such abusive emails and leaving their work details on.

    I’m glad you haven’t revealed who he is, although the temptation to do so must have been enormous.

    Take care.

  13. jasmine says:

    Actually it sounds like he’s the sort of person who hated Star Wars and watched it, saying things like “Storm Troopers would never be vulnerable to lasers! The white armour would reflect them!” and “An asteroid that size would never support an animal that size!”

  14. Ralph says:

    Yes, Brian, I believe when physicists at CERN state that the Large Hadron Collider can create micro black holes, one per second, but not when they say it will safely evaporate. Not after what I read online from different sources, including CERN about the process that suppose to make them evaporate.

    Now Brian, without playing any mind games, I just want to see it typed out in your words. What’s the name of the process that suppose to make micro black holes evaporate at LHC? Has it ever been witnessed? Have you ever witnessed it? Why hasn’t anyone witnessed it? Are you willing to risk all life on earth to test this process?

    Please answer my questions, Brian. Or is this topic something you’re not suppose to discuss outside the CERN cirle?

    Yes I know the answers, Brian, so please don’t use that as an excuse not to answer my questions. I just want the answers in your words to the questions above, that’s all.


  15. Ralph says:

    Oh yeah, just one more humble request, Brian. Please answer my questions in a comment, and not just an extension to my comment like you did before. Thanks!

  16. jasmine says:


    you’re a bloody fool.

  17. Mike says:

    Hey Gia, just catching up. Meh, you’re way more restrained than I would have been. Probably a good thing. I would have published all his crap, called him a prick publicly and then gone to his office and asked him what HIS immediate family members do for a living and see how he likes having to defend them for no good reason. World is FULL of tools and when they stand up to be counted I only think it’s fair to shine a little light on them.

  18. Ralph says:

    Jasmine, I’m only a fool if I don’t ask questions. What’s wrong with that?


  19. Nick says:

    Now Ralph, I believe that CERN can not create black holes at a rate of one per second. I read it somewhere on the internet, so it must be true right? Right??
    I also believe that if you want any type of answer, probably the best way to do that is no to sound like a sanctimonious, arrogant prig posting my questions on the site of Brian’s wife. I wouldn’t listen to someone addressing a third grader in the tone you use, so why on earth should anyone take you seriously? Ok ok you have an opinion, why don’t you start your own website where you can tell everyone their wrong? That should be a hoot!

  20. Ralph says:

    Nick, I dropped this back in another blog entry, then Brian asked me questions in that blog entry. I answered here since Brian was also asking Jim those questions which was originally directed at me, and since I got his attention, I thought I ask him a few questions.

    I wasn’t being arrogant, just want to see the answers in Brian’s words, and still do.

    Gia, I’m sorry. I’m gona keep my cool, even if your friends insult me.

  21. Nick says:

    Yes Ralph, you are really keeping your cool. Gosh, Ralph, I wish we could all be as cool as you. We know, Ralph, that you think CERN could destroy everything. And no, Ralph, I wasn’t trying to insult you. But you see, Ralph, you can be insulting in many subtle ways. Now I hope we understand each other, Ralph, and can move past this.

    I have no problem with you disagreeing with Gia or Brian. I have not problem with you disagreeing with me. Hell, I don’t even think that you need to care if I have a problem with anything you do! But I do think that it’s ridiculous to write the post in the manner you did and then pretend “Hey, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

  22. Alex says:


    “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”

    The gent obviously does not understand that…

    “If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”


    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”

    And further, the the gent is an intelligent fool where Brian is a genius…

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

    – all quotes are by Mr. Einstein.

  23. Ralph says:

    Nick, Gia, Brian, I’m a family man like Jim, like you, with two beautiful kids and a wife I love so much. I’m not trying to hurt them, just worried. Ok, I’m terrified. I want to see them grow up, take pictures at all their graduations, and watch them get married while I grow old with my wife.

    I didn’t mean to sound like a you know what, just wanted to know. Feel safe. That’s why I asked those questions, wanting to see it in Brians words. I’ve been insulted on this blog, and wasn’t trying to retaliate, and I’m sorry if it came off that way.

  24. Nick says:

    Ralph, minutes after my first post, you know the one about your own website, I actually kind of regretted it. Rather then address the issue I had, which was more or less your tone, I instead took the dumb, and easy, way out and insulted you. What I should have said was that I felt you were undermining your credibility by your tone, and that I didn’t feel it was appropriate.
    Now I do still disagree with you about CERN, but I also accept that your concern stems from love, and that the least I could do is dignify that concern with earnest answers, rather then insults.
    However, you are on your own with the rest of this group!

  25. jasmine says:


    there are no stupid questions and there are no stupid answers, but there are stupid people. These are people who choose which of the pieces of evidence they want to use based not on the evidence but rather on which of them they feel happiest believing in.

    People like you suck. You’re ruining the world with your vague suspicions. Stop it. Those of us with functioning intelligence have to live here too, and we’d quite like to know how the universe works.

  26. giagia says:

    Ralph, before I bug Brian with any of this I must ask you *WHY* do you believe that they can create black holes at CERN? They haven’t created black holes before – so they’ve never observed themselves creating black holes… What makes you believe that they can do that?

  27. Ciaran says:

    Hehehe, this has turned interesting, though I’m afraid I missed the crux.

    Gia, it’s always important to stay safe, as there are always going to be grade A nutters out there, but “ne te confundant illegitimi” :)

    Ralph, if you don’t mind, I’ll take a shot at this. :)
    The theory (of which you’ve stated your skepticism) of black holes and relevant material on it is available quite widely. Even in popular science. The process you are asking about is called Bekenstein-Hawking Radiation, (named after the physicists who predicted it in the 1970’s). The mathematics predicts that the smaller the black hole, the higher the B-H radiation, therefore the faster it will evaporate. Now, B-H radiation has never been observed (only predicted) so of course it may not exist at all (in which case science will rightly have a rethink in this field).

    The theory (which you stated that you believe) that LHC will have anywhere close to enough power to create a black hole is predicted in one other theory, Extra Large Dimensions. This theory (and this is close to the limits of my knowledge)is that there are higher dimensions, which can be described as mathematically viable. The supposition is that in these dimensions gravity is stronger than in the standard 4 dimensional spacetime that we can observe. In order for these dimensions to exist, the mathematics also predicts that the LHC may just have enough force to produce micro black holes. However it is also predicted that the same can easily be produced by the high energy cosmic radiation that bombards the earth every day (ergo, micro black holes are being produced constantly, at least in the upper atmosphere). Again, these have never been detected, so it could all be wrong (in which case science needs a rethink in this field too).

    Now, suppose LHC can produce black holes as predicted in the second model. Then the fact that we have never been able to detect micro black holes through cosmic radiation means that they must be evaporating, through some mechanism, such as B-H Radiation. So if the guys at LHC discover micro black holes, there’ll likely be a double celebration, because they’ll also have provided experimental proof of Bekenstein-Hawking radiation.

    I must point out Ralph, I’m not affiliated with CERN in any way. More a mature undergrad student. But the facts on these theories are easily accessible online, so that you can read up on them, (and the other prevalent theories) and make your own judgment. However, I’d suggest that once you’ve done that, if questions still remain, it might be more useful to ask Brian (or any other CERN scientist) to point out some decent research papers, so that you can check the mathematics for yourself. Or if you already have gone to this length, it would be brilliant to point out the mathematical flaws you have found in Hawking’s or Bekenstein’s research, which has led you to doubt the claims of veracity to Bekenstein-Hawking radiation. After all, this is what science is all about.

    I’m sure you’d agree that this would certainly achieve more, than engaging in what equates to doomsday speculation, based solely on populist reports. (I saw the dramatic video with the earth disappearing up it’s own Switzerland too ;) )

    Anyone for a Y2K bug??

  28. hil says:

    Sorry, this feels like i might be intruding as i came here completely randomly and read your entry by chance, especially as i didn’t even see the programme in question (i saw it in the listings, but i think i was in still in lab so missed it when it aired).
    I just wanted to say (in order to contrast the horrible email you and your husband got) that any attempt to help the public understand science is a brilliant thing. I’m not a physicist, but a PhD student in neuroscience and from my perspective the downward spiral in public understanding of science, whatever the reasons, is a very scary thing. The government has decided that the curriculum in schools needn’t teach real science any more (which gives me a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach and makes me feel a bit sick if i think about it too hard). I have difficulty trying to explain anything i do to my own family even, let alone a television audience, so I can understand a little some of the problems faced with this sort of thing. At least as far as I can tell my bit of the scientific community feels quite keenly the need for the public to understand what we do and why we do it. In short, your husbands doing a great (and difficult) job, and it makes me happy to know there are people out there trying to balance the onslaught of medieval thinking that seems so prevalent at the moment.

  29. giagia says:

    Hil, thank you. I’m not a scientist at all and even before I had *met* my husband I was massively into science and couldn’t understand why the rest of the world wasn’t as excited by it all as I was.

    There desperately needs to be some sort of counterbalance to the unthinking and ignorant rubbish spouted by a seemingly increasing number of people. I fight it constantly – from people saying the Mayans predicted the Apocalypse in 2012, to people spewing nonsense about the safety of CERN, I cannot let any of them off. They need to see reality… and the future of us and our planet depends on that.

  30. John says:

    Hold on: Alex Garland serves up a ship full of undisciplined, squabbling fools who can’t even follow the chain of command or the simplest mission protocols and feeds them shamelessly into a death-or-death scenario, and I’m an emotionally stunted twat if I don’t buy into this nonsense? Science doesn’t enter into it: we’re just supposed to melt at the sight of Cillian Murphy making nice with that wall of flame at the end, aren’t we? Well, if the name of the game is “death equals drama,” I’m not buying it. Thanks for the insult, and I’m sure your husband is a fine fellow, but Garland sacrifices science in the name of rotten dramatic setups in “Sunshine.” It’s a derivative, shamelessly terrible screenplay.

    Gia: ‘Undisciplined, squabbling fools” – Cosmonaut Valery Ryumin wrote in his personal diary in 1980: ‘All the necessary conditions to perpetrate a murder are met by locking two men in a cabin of 18 by 20 feet . . . for two months.

    Sunshine was, in part, looking at the reality of longterm space flight where cosmonauts have shown psychological problems after as little as 6 weeks in space. (I say ‘cosmonauts’ because NASA has never studied the psychological effects on their astronauts). Please feel free to listen to the interview I did with Nick Kanas for the Sunshine site about his research into ‘long term psychological problems in space flight’. The severity of the psychological issues crews on long missions in space is something which is of massive concern…

    That you aren’t able to appreciate the symbolism in ‘Sunshine’ does actually tell me that either you only appreciate straight down the line, normal films which aren’t very ‘arty’ or there is some kind of disconnect between your emotions and your interest in science (and/or science fiction). Do I think everyone who doesn’t like ‘Sunshine’ is a twat? No. Do I think someone who sends me a shitty email about my husband’s work, who also says something shit about a film to which I gave everything for two years (and resulted in me virtually collapsing in physical exhaust when I finished last autumn) is a twat? You fucking bet.

  31. Ralph says:

    Ciaran, thanks for the info. I’ve already read what you stated above on various sites. I’ve also read about it where Hawking Radiation theory is thought of as flawed, specially since it never been observed by anyone, but haven’t read anywhere where it’s called Bekenstein-Hawking Radiation. Could you provide a link to that?

    Yes, no one has ever detected micro black holes, but what bothers me is that they assume they must be evaporating via the Hawking Radiation theory, when they might never have been there in the first place. So to try to create micro black holes, which many physicists believe could be possible at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and hope that the Hawking Radiation theory is correct in evaporating them, is very troubling in my book.

    I find it funny how everyone calls the Hawking Radiation theory a process, avoiding the word theoretical since it never been observed. I’m not talking about you Ciaran, since this is not your field, just physicists and wannabe physicists who keep stating this. Like how the media helped push the war on Iraq without researching what was passed on to them as the truth.

    The CERN website calls the Hawking Radiation theory only a process by Stephen Hawking, like it’s already been proven as fact. It’s like saying those mobile biological weapon labs in Iraq are there, to which we found out they wasn’t, but if the people at CERN are wrong about this process, we’re not gona be around to complain.

    Gia, that’s why I asked those questions, and would still like some input from Brian since he works at CERN. I like to know from Brian if Hawking Radiation is theoretical or a proven process. Has anyone ever observed this theory or process? Why hasn’t anyone witnessed this theory or process? Is the world at risk if this theory or process is false?

  32. jasmine says:

    Aaaaaactually, Ralph:

    Hawking radiation must exist.

    Why do I say this? Several reasons.

    One is that Hawking radiation does not exist in a scientific vacuum; it is one of the many consequences of the universe being filled with virtual particles. If the universe *is* full of virtual particles, constantly being created and then destroyed, there are several consequences, one of which is Hawking radiation. Another one of these effects is called the Casimir effect, and that has most definitely been detected. In fact, several other effects of the Planck-scale foam of virtual particles have been detected, making the evidence for Hawking radiation almost unbearably strong.

    Another reason to think that Hawking radiation takes place is that the Big Bang should have created many tiny singularities- very small black holes- but science has never observed such an object. If black holes do not decay, they ought to be commonplace. Therefore some effect must have prevented them from being created, or some process has destroyed them since. CERN’s LHC experiments will tell us which of these is the case. Either the singularities will not be created at all, or they will be created and very rapidly destroyed- either way we will find out why the universe does not seem to contain quantum singularities at all.

    In short, Ralph, you’d do better if you’d shut your gob and open your mind. Try thinking this stuff through. We have good reasons to believe this experiment to be safe- many millions of times safer, in fact, than houses- and one of them is the inherent limit of the properties of the universe.

    If tiny black holes were stable, bud, you’d probably be inside one right now. You’d still be a tool, but you’d be less of a huge one.

    ps: Ciaran, some of us worked damned hard to make sure the Y2k bug didn’t destroy civilization. Do you think we did a good job? I do.

  33. Ralph says:

    Jasmine, thank you for your kindness, and saving us from the y2k bug.

    I know about the Casimir effect, which brought up the theory of Hawking Radiation, which hasn’t been proved yet. Yes it’s easy to write out the calculations and say here it is, but it’s another thing to see it actually happen.

    Maybe Micro Black Holes wont be created at CERN, even though they state it could be possible. I just think we should keep an open mind, and speak our minds to a third possibility besides nothing materializing at CERN, to micro black holes rapidly evaporating. What if the micro black holes don’t evaporate?

    Why is it so hard to accept a third possibility? If you choose not to, Jasmine, I don’t have a problem with that. I still would like to hear it from Brian.

  34. jasmine says:

    It’s hard to accept a possibility I know from simple inspection to be the result of some sort of horrible schadenfreudic imagination.

  35. hil says:


    Your comment made me very happy! I live in such a bubble – because of the university I did my undergrad at and the career I’ve chosen I bascially only know scientists – so whenever i leave my little academic world I become scared quite quickly that the whole world is against us and run back in again. Not very helpful towards furthering public understanding of key scientific questions I know, but like many a scientist my social skills are pretty crap to non-existent… I am honestly quite comforted to know that there’s someone out there in the real world fighting the corner :)

    (Though I do realise not all science is ‘good’, I can do my bit to make sure that stuff at least is as small a percentage as possible, without having to cross into the scary real world…)

  36. Pete Cope says:

    How terribly sad that was. As a ‘resting’ astrophysicist (that it, I’ve been seduced into other popular science projects) I did’t just enjoy that programme myself but found it grabbed the attention of my 15 and 12 year olds. The questions they have asked since watching – and the Google searches prompted by it – have been fantastic. The programme may have been popular but what the hell is wrong with that? More please!

  37. giagia says:

    Ralph, first off, you’re not using your brain. I have asked Brian’s question to you a few times and you have never answered *why* you believe CERN scientists when they say they might make black holes, but you don’t believe them when they say they will dissipate immediately.

    The point of that question was to try and make you realise that you take one thing without question and another you refuse to believe.

    The fact is that of the two – making microscopic black holes and Hawking Radiation – the former is the FAR more outlandish idea and the latter is based in reality.

    Do you realise that the only way black holes can be made are if there are multiple dimensions in our universe? Do you realise that no one’s ever seen another dimension other than the ones we live in? Do you realise that multiple dimensions is purely based in theoretical math? Yet, *that* is the thing you believe will happen?!

    So you are saying that you accept one thing which is basically a fantastical, yet mathematically possible, idea without question, but the second thing, based on quantum mechanics you can’t quite believe.

    What’s interesting is the thing you believe (yet don’t understand) can be convoluted into an ‘end of the world’ scenario… and you won’t accept that isn’t possible.

    What does that say about you?

  38. Ralph says:

    Gia, like you, Brian’s on TV trying to enlighten us about science and technology. What’s the difference for him in trying to make me see the light here? Is this what you do when confronted with people who have opposite views than you, insult them when they have questions that don’t fit your beliefs?

    Now I dropped this back in the other blog entry, and if Brian didn’t asked me those questions, it wouldn’t have continued till this.

    I answered his questions above, and now I have another answer to why I don’t believe Hawking Radiation will make micro black holes evaporate. Stephen Hawking, the physicist who came up with this theory, admits it’s false. I know you don’t understand what’s provided in the links below, Gia, which is why Brian should read it.

    Physicist Hawking Concedes Error In Famous Black Hole Theory

    Hawking concedes black hole bet:

    Bet, Stephen Hawking Transcript:

    Thorne-Hawking-Preskill bet:

    I graduated Kansas State University, specializing in two fields, and I find it offensive to be treated like an idiot. Gia, not all newcomers to your blog work at McDonalds.

    An old retired professor friend of mines pointed me to your blog entry “Apocalympics 2012” since he thought I’ll find it interesting, unbeknownst to him I’ve been reading up on Hawking Radiation. Now him as well as some other professionals find it amusing as well as troubling the way I’m treated on your blog, as well as some info shared with me. I didn’t have to tell him anything, he just been keeping tabs on our comments from the beginning, to which he brought in the audience.

    Gia, I didn’t mean to make trouble for you and Brian. Just be careful who you chat with. I never insult anyone I feel doesn’t know enough or has different views. People don’t have to agree on the same things to be civil.

    Jasmine, thank you for your kind response again.

  39. Ralph says:

    Gia, since we pretty muched guessed you were gona moderate your comments sooner or later, I made a copy of my comment just incase you erased it by mistake. :)

    I don’t hate you or Brian, just was hoping he would answer my questions. I wouldn’t then have discovered the articles of Stephen Hawking back tracking on his theory.

    What’s that say about Hawking? Was right when he first discovered it, but is now wrong for back tracking on Hawking Radiation because you say so? I don’t mean this in an arrogant way.

    I also copied this comment.

    Gia: Ralph, please read those articles you linked to properly. Stephen Hawking has not ‘backtracked’. Come on. You have a brain. Use it.

  40. giagia says:

    Ralph, my comments are set so that if one contains more than (I think) 2 comments it goes into the moderation queue.

    I read two of the articles you linked to. They say NOTHING about Hawking saying he’s wrong about radiation, but instead he’s talking about INFORMATION. They are different issues.

    I don’t see why you think I’m insulting you. On the one hand you don’t just accept things that people say, on the other hand you don’t seem to want to use your own brain to work things out. You won’t get the answers you need that way. You need to listen to people who know what they are talking about AND use your own brain. Don’t shut down and accept on faith the ramblings from people who don’t know anything.

    You seem to be trolling here. Either that or you are so blinded by your beliefs about ‘Hawking Radiation’ that you can’t see a thing.

    The longer this go on, the more I suspect it’s the former.

  41. Ralph says:

    Trolling? Gia, if you don’t want me visitng your blog, and I bother you, why do you keep asking me questions? Really.

    Yes, you didn’t ask me a question this time, and I wont bother you any longer, that’s unless you pop me with another question.

    If I’m blind, Brian should help me see the light, but if you don’t want him to help me open my eyes, my mind, I’ll accept that.

  42. giagia says:

    Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” –Buddha

  43. mitchell porter says:

    Ralph, in those articles, Hawking has not backed away from the hypothesis of black hole evaporation. What he changed his mind about is information loss, the idea that the pre-collapse state of the black hole could not be deduced, even in principle, from the decay radiation. In string theory there is no such information loss, and Hawking agreed once he found his own path to that conclusion.

    As for the LHC, Gia already mentioned the real reason why people do not expect the planet to be eaten by black holes from the LHC, and that is that cosmic rays hitting the Earth’s atmosphere already produce more powerful collisions regularly. If stable black holes were produced at those energies, by now, we wouldn’t even be here.

  44. Jim says:

    Mitchell, you’re a good man. I’ve learned alot here on the sidelines, but have some questions. Are the cosmic rays you speak of the gamma rays from the sun? Is the earth and it’s atmosphere to these rays almost equal to a stationary object since it can’t even move a centimeter without getting hit by these cosmic rays? Are cosmic rays the same as Protons?

    The reason why I ask these questions is because there is no non-moving proton in the particle accelerator when it’s operational, and the protons are shot at each other at almost light speed.

    Just so no one pounces on me, I believe we’re still gona be around after May. :)

    Ralph… Buddha, Buddha!

    Good quote, Gia!

    Gia: Jim, that quote defines how I live my life. Now, you need to define ‘non-moving’. ;)

    The Earth is revolving around the Sun at 108,000 kilometres per hour.
    The Sun is rotating around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy at about 800,000 kilometres per hour.
    And the Milky Way Galaxy is moving towards the centre of our Local Group of Galaxies at about 144,000 kilometres per hour.
    And that our Local Group is moving, in relation to the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, at about 1,328,000 kilometres per hour.
    And the 13 billion year old Universe itself is expanding at a rate of almost 200,000 kilometres per hour.

    My best guess is that between the time I started writing this and now I’ve moved about 30,000 kilometres in relation to the Background Radiation. But in a deep sense you could say that nothing moves at all.

  45. jasmine says:

    Some cosmic rays are gamma ray photons, some are protons; some are more obscure particles. Some cosmic rays come from the sun, some come from the black hole at the centre of the galaxy (including some very exotic particles with very high energies) and some come from extragalactic sources, though these are very rare.

    The planet Earth’s velocity relative to the particle is the only thing that matters. There is no difference in energy or collision effects between a car hitting a stationary one and a moving one with the same total momentum; in Newton’s universe, even, velocity and position may not be absolutely deduced.

    The total energy of some cosmic ray collisions (the nicknamed “Oh God particle”) is many hundreds of times higher than will be reached in even the LHC.

  46. Jim says:

    Adj. nonmoving
    1. Not in motion
    – unmoving
    – Ralph

    Just a joke, not an insult.

  47. Amanda says:

    I’m late, as usual, but I’d just like to say that I, for one, really owe a lot to you and Brian and the team of people who “dumb down” science in order to help teach it to people. How the fuck to these people expect *others* to learn or understand (or contribute?!) anything if no one’s going to be around to help them out a bit? Sure, we could all take our time and try to figure it out on our own if we’re really that into it, but making something easily accessible and understandable isn’t EVIL. It’s brilliant. People are such idiots. I don’t understand why they have to nitpick so freaking much.

  48. Mena says:

    I too am late in answering this…
    It sounds like you need some positive input to counter this guy. We get Horizons here occasionally on the Science Channel. I swear that I have seen your husband on something, probably this. Did he do one about string theory or time travel? Either way, I record physics stuff for my mother. She isn’t a scientist in any way and has dyscalculia. She loves physics and we go to Fermilab whenever they have a lecture. She thinks that she is getting Alzheimer’s (she’s not, she’s just on a ton of medication for back problems and a degenerative nerve disorder) and she thinks of this stuff as a way to keep her mind sharp. One of the best things about those shows is that she can understand them. It’s good when it isn’t a rehash of the same stuff over and over because that can get boring but there seem to be a lot of cutting edge physics shows getting made. They are appreciated.