I am interested to hear people’s opinions on the CERN experiment.
The experiment involves using a giant particle accelerator to collide subatomic particles together. The scientists involved are hoping to replicate the conditions that occurred immediately after the big bang.
Some scientist however are concerned that miniature black holes may be formed, which could swallow the earth.
The experiment is expected to be undertaken in mid July in an underground facility in Switzerland. Currently CERN are being sued for risking an apocalypse.
Here is an interesting article on the issue.
"Campaigners in the US are attempting to delay the start-up of the world’s most powerful particle smasher with a lawsuit claiming it could spawn dangerous particles or mini black holes that will destroy the entire Earth.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is nearing completion at CERN, the European centre for particle physics near Geneva, Switzerland. Scientists hope it will begin operations in mid-July.
On 21 March, Luis Sancho, from Spain, and Hawaii resident Walter Wagner filed a lawsuit in Hawaii’s US District Court against CERN and US contributors to the project demanding that they do not operate the LHC until they prove it is safe. The US contributors named are the Department of Energy (DoE), the National Science Foundation and Fermilab, an accelerator laboratory near Chicago.
The DoE and Fermilab will not comment on the case, insisting it is a legal matter to be dealt with by the Department of Justice.
The lawsuit’s claims are “complete nonsense”, James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN, told New Scientist. “The LHC will start up this year, and it will produce all sorts of exciting new physics and knowledge about the universe,” he said, adding: “A year from now, the world will still be here.”
The collider will simulate conditions less than a billionth of a second after the big bang, by smashing protons together at enormous energies. Physicists hope to resolve long-standing questions, such as why particles have mass and whether space has hidden extra dimensions.
But Wagner and Sancho’s court papers raise theoretical scenarios in which the LHC could create particles that gobble up the Earth, such as “killer strangelets”. Strangelets are hypothetical blobs of matter containing “strange” quarks, as well as the usual “up” and “down” types that make up ordinary matter.
If a strangelet were stable and negatively charged, it might begin eating the nuclei of ordinary matter, converting them into strange matter. Eventually the menacing chain reaction could assimilate our entire planet and everyone on it.
A 2003 safety review for the LHC found “no basis for any conceivable threat”. It acknowledged that there’s a small chance the accelerator could create short-lived, mini black holes or exotic “magnetic monopoles” that destroy protons in ordinary atoms. But it concluded that neither scenario could lead to disaster.
That report and lay summaries of its findings are available on CERN’s website. An updated version of the safety assessment will soon be released, and physicists plan to discuss safety during a CERN open house on 6 April.
Wagner raised similar concerns to those in the new court papers during development of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York State. “RHIC started running in 2000 and we’re still here,” says Gillies.
Besides, he adds, much higher energy collisions that those at the LHC frequently occur in nature, because cosmic ray particles zip around our galaxy at close to the speed of light. The moon has undergone such collisions for 5 billion years without being devoured by a ravenous black hole or killer strangelet, he adds.
However, Wagner and Sancho describe CERN’s safety reviews as “perfunctory” and say the cosmic ray argument may be misleading.
“There is no question that should [the] defendants inadvertently create a dangerous form of matter such as a micro black hole or a strangelet, or otherwise create unsafe conditions of physics, then the environmental impact would be both local and national in scope, and quite deadly to everyone,” their lawsuit claims. A website appeals for funds to support their case.
Unconfirmed reports say that a magistrate judge has been assigned to the case for an initial conference on 16 June, and that Wagner intends to serve court papers to the federal government.
“What we want to do is get this machine up and running,” Gillies says. “We’ll show people that the world is not going to disappear.”