Despite a press release that includes the phrases “universe-gobbling black holes” and “the power to destroy Earth,” we apparently have nothing to fear when physicists flip the switch on CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on Wednesday.
The LHC is a giant particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles in the world, and will hopefully fill in gaps in our fundamental understanding of the universe. Scientists will use the LHC to recreate conditions present just after the Big Bang by causing beams of subatomic particles to collide.
But some scientists raised the possibility that these collisions could create “micro black holes” – a theoretical risk that has caused some concern; however, CERN dismisses the risk, and Friday’s announcement by the Institute of Physics assured us that the LHC has been reviewed and found completely safe by the LHC Safety Assessment Group.
I suppose I can see why people might be worried—the name “Big Bang” doesn’t exactly scream puppies and lollipops—but, note to the people at the IOP: You’re bound to raise some eyebrows when you report that any hypothetical black holes produced by the LHC would be harmless because they “could not gobble matter at a risky rate.” No worries, folks, when we create our black holes, they won’t destroy the earth fast enough to concern you!
Among the other comforting facts produced by the safety report is that any energy produced by the collision of particles would be comparable to a clash between two mosquitoes (which could be considerable, if you’re talking about the feral mosquitoes from the swamps of New Jersey…). The group also noted that the energy equivalent of one hundred thousand LHC experiments have already taken place in nature and—good news—Earth is still here.
Okay, I’m convinced…let’s go crash some particles!
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The physicists at Cosmic Variance tend to agree — nothing to worry about.Share Post: | Stumble | Share on Facebook | Tweet This |