The Value of Money

Written by Joe : September 9, 2008

£5 billion (about $US 10 billion) sounds like a lot of money. So what is worth $10 billion?

Half a London Olympics.

The annual profit of Google.

10 Space Shuttle launches.

And one physics experiment in Switzerland.

The CERN experiment officially begins with what is heavily promoted as ‘Big Bang Day’. Stephen Hawking, the remarkable scientist has said that the experiment is:

vital if the human race is not to stultify and eventually die out Together they cost less than one tenth of a per cent of world GDP. If the human race can not afford this, then it doesn’t deserve the epithet ‘human’

I am not a nuclear physicist, so the explanation does not make a lot of sense to me - it is something about recreating conditions found after the Big Bang to better understand the nature of the universe. Some maintain that there is a small chance the experiment will produce a Black Hole which will destroy the planet. In which case I will have wasted precious moments writing this.

Anyway. If there are any nuclear physicists out there, it would be nice to know why this is experiment is ‘vital for the human race’. Maybe they are expecting to find a new energy source, I don’t know.

I know this sounds rather predictable to some, but I would really like to know how we (the tax-payers of Europe who are paying for this thing) can justify the cost in a world of hunger.

According to the World Bank, the cost of meeting all of the millennium development goals would be $40-60 billion per year. It is said that the cost of educating every child to at least a primary school level would be about $10 billion.

In the face of world hunger, disease and poverty, can the world afford these vanity projects?

By the way, US consumers spent $15.4 billion on petfood in 2006 and about $9 billion on breakfast cereal.

Author Bio:: Joe is not sure he can justify his own existence.

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    Indeed it would seem that $10billion is a lot of money for a scientific experiment. On the other hand think of it this way: it is 1 month of the cost of the Iraq Occupation - which so far has produced death, suffering and misery on a massive scale. It also represents a minuscule percentage of the annual military budget of $965 billion - which is a sneeze away from $1 trillion - a year - a year -a year - remember that - a year.

    What good might come of this experimental delving into the mysteries of the beginnings of the universe? Who knows? Who knew that messing around with radioactive stuff by Madam Curie would end up with such things as diagnostic Xrays, radiation therapy for cancers, and ultimately (so far) to CAT scans and MRI diagnostic tools. Who knew that when Flemming noticed the inhibition of the growth of bacteria around some mold in a contaminated petri dish in his London laboratory on a bright September morning in 1928 would lead to the saving of millions of lives with Penicillin and subsequent anti-bacterial agents?

    Who knows what benefits will come through accidental discovery by scientists or intentional work by scientists and technicians? Whatever good may come it will certainly outweigh anything that the current American government has done in the past 8 years - or more like the past 50 years.

    And no one in their right mind really believes in the literal interpretation of the Genesis myth, do they? Down the road - admittedly a long way off - a couple trillion years perhaps - we may need to create a method to escape this dimension as our universe grows cold and lifeless. This little relatively inexpensive beginning may be the seed that will contain the answer.
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    I kinda doubt that Curie or Flemming's work cost the same relative amount. But you are right, it is peanuts compared to the cost of war.
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    Think of it this way: what is it worth to know how God created us? Do we understand the love of God better because of our understanding of how he created us? If someone told you that Jesus died for you that might mean something. But if someone told you how he was betrayed, beaten, mocked, tortured, whipped, and crucified all because of his love for you, that would have a depth of meaning far beyond the simple message that Jesus died for you.

    Our knowledge of the universe and how it works helps us to better fulfill our role as caretakers of the earth and universe, or to have dominion as some render it. If we are able to obtain information that would help us do our job better, I think it would be irresponsible not to obtain that knowledge. Besides we have no way of knowing a priory if that knowledge will or won't help in other areas like world hunger, war, or disease. Solutions to problems often come from very unexpected places.

    I have found that it is very hard to understand the end of times if I do not understand the beginning. While you might not think that understanding how fundamental particles found at the beginning of time would have any bearing on knowing that Jesus will return and take his followers to heaven, I wouldn't be surprised if they were, God seems to have a way of intertwining the tangible and the intangible, the theological and the practical.
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    CERN has produced quite a few things over the years that we now take for granted. The best known is, of course, the World Wide Web. Who knows, in twenty years' time we might all have Large Hadron Colliders in our backyards!


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