For some, it is the most serious thing to have ever happened in the world, beyond even their first kiss or their first algebra lesson. For others, it is a source of suspicion, like a pollster stopping you in the street or a well-dressed man asking you for spare change.
Some (with either excitement or trepidation) have even pointed out that one of the brains behind this vast eternal machine is Dr. Brian Cox, once the keyboard player for the band D:Ream. D:Ream's greatest hit, a song adopted by Tony Blair's Labor Party in its landslide election victory of 1997, was "Things Can Only Get Better." There are people who believe that this song served as the final psychological push towards Dr. Cox's deep and lasting commitment to particle physics.
Technically Incorrect does not sink to fripperies. We believe in the untrammeled possibilities of particle physics. And in the soft and sneaky power of marketing.
Now that the LHC is having to endure downtime that might last as long as six months, something of a public-relations disappointment, I believe that the collective brainpower of CNET's readership should be devoted, Uri Geller-like, to finding a good name for this, the most important experiment to ever (hopefully) take place this century.
Naturally, some organizations have already attempted to address the deep and painful need for a new moniker. The Royal Society of Chemistry dedicated all of its imagination (yes, all of it) to this task. And came up with the name Halo. I know that most chemists are nice, conscientious and caring people. They have to battle with more noxious odors than most human beings, and they do it with an admirable stoicism.
But if Halo is the best name they could come up with, then I fear for a chemical solution to global warming.
Wired magazine's readers, on the other hand, displayed a dedication and a humor that is to be admired, especially when the task at hand is so infernally difficult. The magazine recently announced that the winner of its renaming competition was Black Mesa.
I appreciate the atmosphere of dark foreboding that comes with this name, the sinister sense of unknown machinations in New Mexico. But I am concerned that its provenance is its greatest downfall. It is, after all, lifted straight from the Half-Life computer game and, well, derivatives are surely not the flavor of the month in our current disturbed world.
Shouldn't we really be looking for a little pure originality, a name that will capture the imagination of every man, woman, child, monkey, and dog on this planet, so that when the LHC gets going again, everyone will be glued to a live feed of the action?
Just to give you a flavor of some of Wired's runners-up or, as some would have it, second-place winners: there was The Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kick Simulator, which would have been lovely, save for the fact that, well, these days, Mr. Norris' name is a little too close to the political world; there was also Master Blaster Atom Smasher; as well as the somewhat differently stroking What Willis Was Talking About; another that some might have favored was The Thing We Play With When We Aren't Playing Warcraft.
Perhaps that last one is a little too close to the truth for some.
There is still, therefore, an opening for a great new name, one that might bring with it a little more luck. And I leave it open to those who feel strongly about this celestial collision machine and, naturally, to those who feel their creative bent has been stifled by those in positions of power (which may include parents, spouses, dealers etc).
If a name emerges that moves everyone to ecstasy, I will ensure that the concerned of CERN will hear about it.
But, please, don't even think of calling it The D:Ream Machine.