Audit’s Hadron Collider

An aim of Honestly Lay Bare has always been to seek in other fields of adventure relevance to the world of internal controls, risk management, corporate governance and internal audit.

In doing so we are taken to many places.  Today we are entering the world of particle physics and its great experiment called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).The LHC is a circular tunnel 27 km around, bisected by the Franco-Swiss border.

Over 100-billion protons traverse its pathways at 99.999999% of the speed of light, guided by some 9,300 superconducting magnets, each weighing several tons and chilled to temperatures colder than deep space.

At four points in the tunnels, the counter-revolving protons are to smash into one another at a rate of nearly one billion per second.

At the moment of collision, the most complex scientific instrument will seek to recreate the conditions right after the Big Bang.

By revisiting the beginning of time, scientists hope to unravel some of the deepest secrets of our Universe.

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The payoff for this investment, physicists say, could be a new understanding of one of the most fundamental of aspects of reality, namely the nature of mass.

This is where the shadowy particle known as the Higgs boson, also known as the God particle, comes in.

In the Standard Model, a suite of equations describing all the forces but gravity, which has held sway as the law of the universe for the last 35 years, elementary particles are born in the Big Bang without mass, sort of like Adam and Eve being born without sin.

Some of them (the particles, that is) acquire their heft, so the story goes, by wading through a sort of molasses that pervades all of space.

The Higgs process, named after Peter Higgs, a Scottish physicist who first showed how this could work in 1964, has been compared to a cocktail party where particles gather their masses by interaction.

The more they interact, the more mass they gain.

Moreover, Higgs-like fields have been proposed as the source of an enormous burst of expansion, known as inflation, early in the universe, and, possibly, as the secret of the dark energy that now seems to be speeding up the expansion of the universe.

So it is important to know whether the theory works and, if not, to find out what does endow the universe with mass.

But nobody has ever seen a Higgs boson, the particle that personifies this molasses.

If the Higgs or something like it doesn’t exist then some very basic things like quantum mechanics are wrong.

A result, either we find the Higgs boson, or some stranger phenomenon must happen. Hence the LHC.

***

“All Companies Must Declare All Internal Control Weaknesses to Market” screams the fictional Wall Street Journal page A1 headline.

“Due to the current meltdown in world financial markets, the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken a drastic action unprecedented in world financial history that all companies declare in a real time basis all internal control weakness and all risk management deficiencies that the company is aware of.”

The article continues “all the internal control weaknesses will be collated and analysed to identify the underlying root causes which will then be parlayed back to all organisations in the hope that Management will learn what it is that is the difference between a well controlled company, industry, market, economy or country”.

In this world perhaps not too far in the future what you then have is an internal controls Hadron Collider – the ultimate mechanism for assurance providers to detect, understand and plan for the corporate ills that befell companies.

What would such an internal controls Hadron Collider be called.

For mine – this is easy.

It would be called The Athena – in honour of the Greek God of wisdom and reason.

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