I was home sick today, probably from the stress of getting ready for "M-Day" (aka Media Day), more likely though I finally succumbed to the cold that had been spreading through the Control Room. As it so happened, my laptop had been in the shop because it experience an "incident" (actually I just dropped it) last Monday (the week before Media Day), and I just picked it up yesterday.
I couldn't refrain from thinking of my laptop as an analogy for the LHC. The laptop though, is much cheaper than the LHC and can be replaced. Non-the less for something that is so common these days they still break down, or accident's happen. Well the LHC is a one of a kind machine. If the LHC "breaks" or has an incident, it cannot be replaced. We can go back to using the Tevatron, but that is like replacing your laptop with an Apple IIe (ok maybe not THAT drastic, but close). So even after my laptop was returned to my possession I started to run the software update on it, and then it stopped working again! I just managed to get it back up and running, but it isn't at its optimal performance by no means. So the next time you hear someone complain about the LHC, just remind them that it is the cutting edge of technology and if we can't expect all of our common technological tools to all operate perfectly, we shouldn't expect something as advanced and complicated as the LHC to operate any better.