Nonetheless, I applaud the effort and hope to see more of this sort of thing from the scientific community. CERN does a fantastic job at outreach, which is why the LHC is currently the most recognizable science facility in the world - even if most people associate it with destroying the world. Or, as Alda quipped, "Is this machine going to create an alternate dimension and we'll all have to move there? Because we're thinking of redecorating...." (Perhaps he's been watching episodes of Fringe....)
The panel discussion proved quite engaging. Sanders gave a "tour" of her pop-up book, peppered with anecdotes about the process of putting it together. Randall talked about the theoretical framework for the discoveries physicists hope to make at the LHC, declaring this to be "a particularly exciting time for physics." Evidence for supersymmetry, extra dimensions, the elusive Higgs boson, the mystery of matter/antimatter asymmetry in the early universe, and yes, the possibility of mini black holes are all possibilities - and there's always the chance that physicists will be surprised by something they didn't predict.
Tuts focused on the "How" behind the LHC - which included one of the best illustrations I've yet seen for how scientists know when an observed "event" is statistically significant enough to qualify as a "discovery." Particle accelerators like the LHC analyze massive amounts of data - and throw out even more, keeping only those events deemed to be of particular interest. Of those selected events, even fewer will turn out to be significant. He showed how tricky this sort of analysis can be, and explained why physicists need many, many such events before they can confidently claim a discovery. It is very easy to be deceived. (Something that looks significant after 100 runs might turn out just to be a statistical anomaly, or noise in the signal, after 1000 runs.)
All in all, it was fun and informative evening. Don't you wish you'd been there? Fortunately, NYAS had a videographer on hand who captured fragments of the festivities: