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#286721 - 06/29/08 09:46 AM I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate quick  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 11,727
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline

Will The CERN Destroy The Earth?

MEYRIN, Switzerland - The most powerful atom-smasher ever built could make some bizarre discoveries, such as invisible matter or extra dimensions in space, after it is switched on in August. But some critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures: Will it spawn a black hole that could swallow Earth? Or spit out particles that could turn the planet into a hot dead clump?

Ridiculous, say scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials CERN — some of whom have been working for a generation on the $5.8 billion collider, or LHC. "Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans. David Francis, a physicist on the collider's huge ATLAS particle detector, smiled when asked whether he worried about black holes and hypothetical killer particles known as strangelets. "If I thought that this was going to happen, I would be well away from here," he said.

The collider basically consists of a ring of supercooled magnets 17 miles in circumference attached to huge barrel-shaped detectors. The ring, which straddles the French and Swiss border, is buried 330 feet underground. The machine, which has been called the largest scientific experiment in history, isn't expected to begin test runs until August, and ramping up to full power could take months. But once it is working, it is expected to produce some startling findings. Scientists plan to hunt for signs of the invisible "dark matter" and "dark energy" that make up more than 96 percent of the universe, and hope to glimpse the elusive Higgs boson, a so-far undiscovered particle thought to give matter its mass. The collider could find evidence of extra dimensions, a boon for superstring theory, which holds that quarks, the particles that make up atoms, are infinitesimal vibrating strings. The theory could resolve many of physics' unanswered questions, but requires about 10 dimensions — far more than the three spatial dimensions our senses experience.

The safety of the collider, which will generate energies seven times higher than its most powerful rival, at Fermilab near Chicago, has been debated for years. The physicist Martin Rees has estimated the chance of an accelerator producing a global catastrophe at one in 50 million — long odds, to be sure, but about the same as winning some lotteries. By contrast, a CERN team this month issued a report concluding that there is "no conceivable danger" of a cataclysmic event. The report essentially confirmed the findings of a 2003 CERN safety report, and a panel of five prominent scientists not affiliated with CERN, including one Nobel laureate, endorsed its conclusions.

Critics of the LHC filed a lawsuit in a Hawaiian court in March seeking to block its startup, alleging that there was "a significant risk that ... operation of the Collider may have unintended consequences which could ultimately result in the destruction of our planet." One of the plaintiffs, Walter L. Wagner, a physicist and lawyer, said Wednesday CERN's safety report, released June 20, "has several major flaws," and his views on the risks of using the particle accelerator had not changed.

On Tuesday, U.S. Justice Department lawyers representing the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation filed a motion to dismiss the case. The two agencies have contributed $531 million to building the collider, and the NSF has agreed to pay $87 million of its annual operating costs. Hundreds of American scientists will participate in the research. The lawyers called the plaintiffs' allegations "extraordinarily speculative," and said "there is no basis for any conceivable threat" from black holes or other objects the LHC might produce. A hearing on the motion is expected in late July or August.

In rebutting doomsday scenarios, CERN scientists point out that cosmic rays have been bombarding the earth, and triggering collisions similar to those planned for the collider, since the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. And so far, Earth has survived. "The LHC is only going to reproduce what nature does every second, what it has been doing for billions of years," said John Ellis, a British theoretical physicist at CERN.

Critics like Wagner have said the collisions caused by accelerators could be more hazardous than those of cosmic rays. Both may produce micro black holes, subatomic versions of cosmic black holes — collapsed stars whose gravity fields are so powerful that they can suck in planets and other stars. But micro black holes produced by cosmic ray collisions would likely be traveling so fast they would pass harmlessly through the earth. Micro black holes produced by a collider, the skeptics theorize, would move more slowly and might be trapped inside the earth's gravitational field — and eventually threaten the planet.

Ellis said doomsayers assume that the collider will create micro black holes in the first place, which he called unlikely. And even if they appeared, he said, they would instantly evaporate, as predicted by the British physicist Stephen Hawking. As for strangelets, CERN scientists point out that they have never been proven to exist. They said that even if these particles formed inside the Collider they would quickly break down.

When the LHC is finally at full power, two beams of protons will race around the huge ring 11,000 times a second in opposite directions. They will travel in two tubes about the width of fire hoses, speeding through a vacuum that is colder and emptier than outer space. Their trajectory will be curved by supercooled magnets — to guide the beams around the rings and prevent the packets of protons from cutting through the surrounding magnets like a blowtorch. The paths of these beams will cross, and a few of the protons in them will collide, at a series of cylindrical detectors along the ring. The two largest detectors are essentially huge digital cameras, each weighing thousands of tons, capable of taking millions of snapshots a second. Each year the detectors will generate 15 petabytes of data, the equivalent of a stack of CDs 12 miles tall. The data will require a high speed global network of computers for analysis.

Wagner and others filed a lawsuit to halt operation of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, or RHIC, at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York state in 1999. The courts dismissed the suit.

The leafy campus of CERN, a short drive from the shores of Lake Geneva, hardly seems like ground zero for doomsday. And locals don't seem overly concerned. Thousands attended an open house here this spring. "There is a huge army of scientists who know what they are talking about and are sleeping quite soundly as far as concerns the LHC," said project leader Evans.

Isn't that how it always goes? Huge army of people who know what they're doing [#%!] up everything because their own arrogance and self-interest are more important than the lives of other people? Think "The Best and The Brightest" who were going to "fine tune" the economy from Washington D.C.

I'm no luddite. I think this machine is pretty [#%!] cool. I just think that since it has some possible spillover effects which would greatly overwhelm any liability insurance they're carrying on this thing, maybe there should be some kind of global vote requiring 75% or more approval.

The Dive Shops Daily Blog
#286724 - 06/29/08 09:57 AM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate quick [Re: elbert]  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 8,868
SP Daily Offline
SP Daily  Offline
So is this the reason for the Maya calendar ending in 2012?

#286727 - 06/29/08 10:13 AM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate quick [Re: SP Daily]  
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 3,677
Bobber Offline
Bobber  Offline
The ground is falling, the ground is falling. smile

Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt
#286729 - 06/29/08 10:24 AM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate quick [Re: Bobber]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 11,727
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
In order of popularity the reasons for the end of the world.
Global warming
Religion conflicts
Alien Attacks
Nuclear Attacks
Mother Nature
Depletion of Resources
The Next Ice Age
Asteroid Impact
Same sex Marraige
God decides

The Dive Shops Daily Blog
#286731 - 06/29/08 10:29 AM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate quick [Re: elbert]  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 8,868
SP Daily Offline
SP Daily  Offline
You forgot about Dubya Bush.

#286735 - 06/29/08 10:48 AM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate quick [Re: SP Daily]  
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 3,254
azbob Offline
azbob  Offline
Personally I believe Stephen Hawking, an amazing man and super intellect.
Elbert, we will be able to add to the List:
micro black holes,the elusive Higgs boson,strangelets and quarks!

"Hold on Tight To Your Dreams" ELO
#286737 - 06/29/08 11:00 AM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate quick [Re: elbert]  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 3,157
pugwash Offline
pugwash  Offline
Originally Posted by elbert
.....after it is switched on in August...... Will it spawn a black hole that could swallow Earth? Or spit out particles that could turn the planet into a hot dead clump?

The August event most likely to have that effect takes place in Denver from the 25-28th !

If it were in the US not Switzerland, you can feel confidant that newly discovered presence of some sort of subterranean vole would halt the project in the nick of time!

I can make these sort of stupid comments, because as I'm not a member of the media, I have no professional obligation to be unbiased smile

It's rarely rocket science, it's usually just math: then again if you can't do the math.......
#286738 - 06/29/08 11:04 AM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate q [Re: azbob]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 11,727
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
They are 'theoretical possibilities' hummm they must not watch Star Trek their down right navigation problems.

The Dive Shops Daily Blog
#286759 - 06/29/08 12:53 PM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate q [Re: elbert]  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 2,781
Leah-Ann Offline
Leah-Ann  Offline
Originally Posted by elbert
... the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation ... have contributed $531 million to building the collider, and the NSF has agreed to pay $87 million of its annual operating costs.
Sounds like money well spent to me.

I can never remember which is better . . . safe? . . . or sorry?
#286824 - 06/29/08 08:17 PM Re: I sure hope those micro blackholes evaporate q [Re: Leah-Ann]  

The LHC is merely the latest in a long line of these things, and they've been running for decades without the universe vanishing. I've actually been inside the tunnel of the LHC, albeit it wasn't running at the time.

It's far more likely that we will all die and the earth will vanish when a fission nuclear reactor used for energy production goes critical and swallows up everything around it. And that's not very likely either.

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