Posted by: Beth Pariseau
Around the water cooler
Last August I wrote about Swiss research facility CERN and its plan to store petabytes of data from its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) device on commodity NAS and in tape silos for scalability and cost savings. A month ago, it came to my attention that some people thought the collection of that data beginning in May might create a black hole that will eat the Earth.
Anybody who’s ever been exposed to TimeCube will know that just because people are shouting about something scientific on the Internet doesn’t make it solid science or make them experts. So my first post on the black hole issue was tongue in cheek–and it still all seems far-fetched (which is what CERN apparently wants us to believe…cue spooky music).
But since that post, more people with a bit more gravitas have come forward with black hole concerns. Such as a Scientific American blogger who commented on my original post. And former U.S. nuclear safety officer Walter Wagner, who according to MSNBC has filed a lawsuit against CERN to stop LHC in Hawaii.
There’s one puzzling element of the story about the lawsuit for me: the MSNBC writer says conferences on the suit are scheduled for June 16. In part, the suit seeks a temporary restraining order to keep CERN from turning on LHC until everybody’s satisfied it’s not going to bring about Armageddon. But last I knew, LHC was supposed to start up in May, making that hearing on the restraining order about a month too late if something disastrous does happen…
P.S. Speaking of lawsuits (or, at least, potential lawsuits), I got a very interesting followup call to my story on Atrato this week from a man who declined to tell me who exactly he is or why he’s interested, but who claims not to have been able to find evidence of the more than 100 patents Atrato claims for its Self-managing Array of Idle Disks. (An Atrato spokesperson sent a link to a Google search page when asked for a list of the patents.)
One thing this followup caller did happen to mention to me is that he’s an attorney in Minnesota. The light bulb went on…there’s another Minnesota-based company that has been rumored to be working on a product very similar to Atrato’s.
Could just be coincidence, though.