3 Comments »Posted on Saturday 6 September 2008 at 6:15 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Physics

As we draw closer to the official “switching on” of the Large Hadron Collider, the mainstream media is increasingly running stories on the possibility of the destruction of the universe. A quick summary:

I can see the appeal of such stories. EARTH SUCKED INTO BLACK HOLE!!! is an impressive headline, and sure to shift a few newspapers. Unfortunately for editors, it’s just not going to happen. The LHC Safety Assessment Group have reviewed the dangers and found that there are “no reasons for concern.”

The LHC is the largest particle accelerator ever built, but that doesn’t mean that the collisions within it have never taken place before. In fact, cosmic rays have been colliding in the Earth’s atmosphere for billions of years, and have already generated the equivalent of a million LHC experiments. As you have probably notice, the planet still exists. Staggeringly, more than 10 million million – that’s 10,000,000,000,000 – LHC-like experiments are conducted every second across the universe.

The same goes for microscopic blank holes, which the media believe could sink to the centre of the Earth and consume us all. If that were true, it would have already happened, either here or else where in the universe. The continued existence of dense bodies such as neutron stars rules out this possibility, as they would attract “natural” microscopic black holes and be destroyed. Other exotic phenomena such as strangelets (hypothetical lumps of “strange matter”), vacuum bubbles and magnetic monopoles have also failed to occur during cosmic ray collision, so they’re ruled out as well.

All of these occurrence are what I mentally lump into the “too interesting to actually happen” category. They join things like alien invasions, teleportation and mind-reading. When you can make a decent sci-fi flick out of the concept, it probably isn’t going to happen.

So, why isn’t this being communicated by the majority of the mainstream media? The legal case filled by the likes of Professor Otto Rössler probably doesn’t help. Rössler, along with other scientists, submitted their case to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that the LHC violates the rights to life and private family life which are provided under the European Convention of Human Rights. “Look,” says the media. “Even the boffins think this collider thingy will blow up the world. Someone stop the mad scientists!”

I have to wonder how many retractions will be printed come next Wednesday, when newspapers find that their offices are still around. Somewhere between none and zero, I reckon. The event will be ignored by the public at large, many of whom will say “oh, they just got lucky,” and continue to believe scientists will destroy us all.

  1. 3 Comments

  2. The issue of miscommunication is not the media’s fault if CERN experts misrepresent the certainty of safety.
    Collisions may actually be weeks or months away, CERN tends to exaggerate how quickly they can being operations and it could be years before science knows if dangerous particles were created.

    The safety opposition argues that CERN is minimizing the danger and misrepresenting the facts.

    Several papers recent papers all conclude that Hawking Radiation is fundamentally flawed conjecture, micro black holes will not evaporate!

    A common argument is that cosmic rays prove safety, they do not. If cosmic rays create stable neutral micro black holes, all will travel through Earth.

    If micro black holes are created by head-on collisions in particle colliders some percentage will travel too slowly to escape Earth’s gravity.

    The safety opposition includes senior Physics PHD Dr. Rainer Plaga who refutes CERNs conclusions of safety.

    The opposition includes visiting professor of Physics Dr. Otto Rossler who is famous for inventing Chaos Theory’s Rossler attractor and founder of Endophysics. Dr Rossler theorizes that Hawking Radiation is not possible, micro black holes would grow exponentially over decades or centuries and CERN’s cosmic ray arguments are flawed including failure to account for super fluidity of neutron stars.

    Former cosmic ray researcher, California math champion and Nuclear Safety Officer Walter L. Wagner discovered flaws with CERN’s safety arguments and prompted CERN to write a new safety report.

    The opposition argues that the Large Hadron Collider may be safe, it may be disastrous. Like launching shuttles in freezing weather, we should not launch until the safety or danger can be accurately calculated. Currently it can not.

    Got LHCFacts.org?

    By JTankers on Sunday 7 September, 2008 at 2:45 pm

  3. “If micro black holes are created by head-on collisions in particle colliders some percentage will travel too slowly to escape Earth’s gravity.”

    This is already covered both in the post and the safety of the LHC page I linked to. I’ll quote directly from the page, with the important points in bold:

    “Collisions at the LHC differ from cosmic-ray collisions with astronomical bodies like the Earth in that new particles produced in LHC collisions tend to move more slowly than those produced by cosmic rays. Stable black holes could be either electrically charged or neutral. If they had electric charge, they would interact with ordinary matter and be stopped while traversing the Earth, whether produced by cosmic rays or the LHC. The fact that the Earth is still here rules out the possibility that cosmic rays or the LHC could produce dangerous charged microscopic black holes. If stable microscopic black holes had no electric charge, their interactions with the Earth would be very weak. Those produced by cosmic rays would pass harmlessly through the Earth into space, whereas those produced by the LHC could remain on Earth. However, there are much larger and denser astronomical bodies than the Earth in the Universe. Black holes produced in cosmic-ray collisions with bodies such as neutron stars and white dwarf stars would be brought to rest. The continued existence of such dense bodies, as well as the Earth, rules out the possibility of the LHC producing any dangerous black holes.”

    Even if Hawking Radiation is flawed, the universe continues to exist despite 10,000,000,000,000 LHC-like collisions a second. If micro black holes were sucking up neutron stars and white dwarfs, we would have seen it.

    Futhermore, Rössler’s argument has been examined by scientists Domenico Giulini and
    Hermann Nicolai, who have found that it isn’t even self consistent.

    By Jacob Aron on Sunday 7 September, 2008 at 4:57 pm

  4. Man, they really try to make Rössler sound impressive. He is out of his field and in over his head with his new theories that predict catastrophe. Take a look at his “paper” on the subject to see how thoroughly wacky this guy is. Or read my blog post “Large Hadron Collider: What’s the Risk?”

    By onscrn on Tuesday 9 September, 2008 at 2:19 pm

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