T Nation

Possible Apocalypse

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.”

Killer strangelets
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.

‘Dangerous matter’
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.”

Here an abstract to a scientific paper on the topic (this paper is from 2005 and is not specifically on CERN).

“The risk of a doomsday scenario in which high-energy physics experiments trigger the destruction of the Earth has been estimated to be minuscule1. But this may give a false sense of security: the fact that the Earth has survived for so long does not necessarily mean that such disasters are unlikely, because observers are, by definition, in places that have avoided destruction. Here we derive a new upper bound of one per billion years (99.9% confidence level) for the exogenous terminal-catastrophe rate that is free of such selection bias, using calculations based on the relatively late formation time of Earth.”

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7069/full/438754a.html

The authors also predict that approximately every billion years a civilization destroys itself in a particle physics experiment.

Add it to the list…

Aha. Sounds very scientific.

I worry more about that “the worlds food production depends entirely on oil” thing…

So what would happen? If mini black holes are created, then what would it feel like? Would the Earth be swallowed up instantly?

I think it would be pretty neat-o to be swallowed up by a black hole, maybe we all get spit out of the other side into a distant part of the universe.

This sounds exciting, I hope they succeed.

This is why governments should be barred from scientific research. I highly doubt if any businessman would fund a venture such as this. Only laboratories supplied by looted wealth and staffed by scientists who have sold their souls long ago would ever come up with such shit.

“They, the scientists who sell their souls for laboratories supplied by loot, they who had the capacity to know better…theirs is the guilt beyond forgiveness.”
— Ayn Rand

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
This is why governments should be barred from scientific research. [/quote]

But then, you wouldn’t have the strong military to “spread freedom and democracy”.

HH’s worst dilemma.

People always wanna go and fuck shit up. Damn.

You know damn well if there were a little red button with a label “Earth: Self Destruct” some motherfucker would want to press it. What the fuck is wrong with people?

You’d probably have to start the reaction with a similar sized amount of mass as you’d want to destroy. I doubt a very small amount of matter, even if it were behaving like a black hole, could swallow a planet.

[quote]Ken Kaniff wrote:

The authors also predict that approximately every billion years a civilization destroys itself in a particle physics experiment.

Aha. Sounds very scientific.

I worry more about that “the worlds food production depends entirely on oil” thing…

[/quote]

Nature is a well respected journal. Nick Bostrom is a highly respected academic at the University of Oxford.

With that being said, I do find it difficult to believe that such a thing could be predicted with any accuracy at all.

I am also much more concerned about the rapid depletion of world oil reserves than I am about this issue. I still fid it extremely interesting though.

[quote]skaz05 wrote:
So what would happen? If mini black holes are created, then what would it feel like? Would the Earth be swallowed up instantly?

I think it would be pretty neat-o to be swallowed up by a black hole, maybe we all get spit out of the other side into a distant part of the universe.

This sounds exciting, I hope they succeed.[/quote]

Spaghettification

According to Stephen Hawking you would get stretched like spaghetti.

I believe the entire process would occur so quickly that you wouldn’t feel anything.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
This is why governments should be barred from scientific research. I highly doubt if any businessman would fund a venture such as this. Only laboratories supplied by looted wealth and staffed by scientists who have sold their souls long ago would ever come up with such shit.

“They, the scientists who sell their souls for laboratories supplied by loot, they who had the capacity to know better…theirs is the guilt beyond forgiveness.”
— Ayn Rand[/quote]

The annual budget for CERN is around 2 billion US dollars. You are right that no businessman would fund this, as there is no expectation of making any revenue from the experiment.

If it was such a risk i think quite a few north american university physic profs. would have spoken up by now. Let alone thousands of people who know more than we do on the subject, it is the world were talking about here. I’m not too worried.

[quote]dk44 wrote:
You know damn well if there were a little red button with a label “Earth: Self Destruct” some motherfucker would want to press it. What the fuck is wrong with people?[/quote]

Oh, sorry, my bad. I thought it was the “easy” button…

[quote]Regular Gonzalez wrote:
The annual budget for CERN is around 2 billion US dollars. You are right that no businessman would fund this, as there is no expectation of making any revenue from the experiment. [/quote]

You folks do realize the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet took place there.

I won’t bore you with W and Z bosons though, but CERN is where it was discovered.

Even if they DID create tiny black holes, that doesn’t spell doom or even necessarily ANY danger. black holes expend energy in “consuming.” once they have consumed so much, they begin to “evaporate.” a tiny black hole might consume a few thousand molecules, then disappear… no significant harm if in a controlled situation such as the mentioned lab.

On a similiar note, scientists have been speculating for years that we might actually be surrounded by tiny black holes at this very moment…

There is the theory that, since it would only take a few million years to settle in the whole galaxy for a space faring intelligent species, something must wipe them out once they reach a certain level, or they do not exist at all.

Maybe this is it.

If not, we will get there sooner or later.

[quote]lixy wrote:
Regular Gonzalez wrote:
The annual budget for CERN is around 2 billion US dollars. You are right that no businessman would fund this, as there is no expectation of making any revenue from the experiment.

You folks do realize the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet took place there.

I won’t bore you with W and Z bosons though, but CERN is where it was discovered.[/quote]

What exactly is your point?

I was not denying that incredible breakthroughs have been made at CERN.

I was simply agreeing with Headhunter that no private investor would be willing to put up the money to fund the LHC experiments.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Add it to the list…[/quote]

Yup, it’s a big list…

[quote]Regular Gonzalez wrote:
lixy wrote:
Regular Gonzalez wrote:
The annual budget for CERN is around 2 billion US dollars. You are right that no businessman would fund this, as there is no expectation of making any revenue from the experiment.

You folks do realize the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet took place there.

I won’t bore you with W and Z bosons though, but CERN is where it was discovered.

What exactly is your point?

I was not denying that incredible breakthroughs have been made at CERN.

I was simply agreeing with Headhunter that no private investor would be willing to put up the money to fund the LHC experiments.

[/quote]

His point is…uhh…maybe…

Lixy, what was the point?