NOT The End of The World After All…Sorry.

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I know this will come as a great relief to most of my dear readers (not including you cranks in the corner) but it appears that reports of a Black Hole about to open over Switzerland were grossly mistaken. No, it had nothing to do with a Lindt shortage, but rather a Hadron Super Collider at Cern.

It seems that some people came up with the silly idea that it would somehow cause a rift in the space time continuum once it was put into operation. I am sure there are the same people who think cell phones will fry our brains and that Geordi was better than Scotty.

Read the science below…and relax. Now hopefully you can buy back all those collector’s plates you sold.

The following has been reposted from The New York Times.

Earth Will Survive After All, Physicists Say

By DENNIS OVERBYE

That black hole that was going to eat the Earth? Forget about it, and keep making the mortgage payments — those of you who still have them.

A new particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider scheduled to go into operation this fall outside Geneva, is no threat to the Earth or the universe, according to a new safety review approved Friday by the governing council of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or Cern, which is building the collider.

“There is no basis for any concerns about the consequences of new particles or forms of matter that could possibly be produced by the LHC,” five physicists who comprised the safety assessment group wrote in their report. Whatever the collider will do, they said, Nature has already done many times over.

The report is available at http://lsag.web.cern.ch/lsag/LSAG-Report.pdf.

The physicists, who labored anonymously for the last year and a half, are John Ellis, Michelangelo Mangano, Gian Giudice and Urs Wiedemann, of Cern, and Igor Tkachev, of the Institute for Nuclear Research in Moscow. In a press release, Cern’s director general Robert Aymar said, “With this report, the Laboratory has fulfilled every safety and environmental evaluation necessary to ensure safe operation of this exciting new research facility.”

It is full speed ahead, they say, on the new machine, which is designed to accelerate protons, the building blocks of ordinary matter, to energies of 7 trillion electron volts and then bang them together to produce tiny primordial fireballs, miniature versions of the Big Bang. Physicists will comb the detritus from those fireballs in search of forces and particles and even new laws of nature that might have prevailed during the first trillionth of a second of time.

Some critics have argued, however, that Cern has ignored or downplayed the risk that the collider could produce a black hole that would swallow the Earth, or that it could create some other dangerous particle.

The safety group, however, pointed out that cosmic rays have produced equivalently energetic collisions with the Earth and other objects in the cosmos over and over again. “This means that Nature has already completed about 1031 LHC experimental programs since the beginning of the Universe,” they write. But the stars and galaxies endure.

The new report, which is an update and expansion of a previous 2003 report, pays particular attention to the issue of black holes, which could be produced according to some speculative variations of the already speculative string theory. Could one eat the Earth? These same theories predict that the black holes would immediately disintegrate, the authors say. But if stable black holes could somehow be produced, they would also have been produced by cosmic ray collisions.

The report draws heavily on a dense 96-page analysis by Steven B. Giddings of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Dr. Mangano, which will be available on the physics archive on Monday. In that paper, Dr. Giddings and Dr. Mangano conclude, “Indeed, conservative arguments based on detailed observations and the best-available scientific knowledge, including solid astronomical data, conclude, from multiple perspectives, that there is no risk of any significance whatsoever from such black holes.”

The difference between these two ways of making black holes is that the ones from cosmic rays would be going near the speed of light and would shoot through the Earth with no effect, while collider black holes would be at rest relative to the Earth and could be captured. But if such black holes from cosmic rays existed, the physicists concluded, dense cinders like neutron stars or white dwarfs would capture them and get eaten. But that doesn’t happen; such objects continue to exist.

The safety report was itself reviewed and approved by another panel of scientists outside Cern. And so, after 14 years and $8 billion, the future of physics is almost here.

Cern’s engineers are in the process of cooling the superconducting magnets that power the protons around their 17-mile racetrack down to within 3 degrees Fahrenheit of absolute zero. They are on track, they say to begin circulating protons in the machine in August and to begin colliding them a couple of months later.

Because the engineers have not yet finished “training” the magnets to carry the currents necessary to propel the protons to full energy, the plan is for the colliding protons to have 5 trillion electron volts apiece initially, still five times more energetic than physicists have achieved before.

In the winter, when Cern traditionally shuts down for a period, the magnets will be trained for the full energy. In the spring the collider will start up again with 14-trillion volt collisions. And physicists can finally stop holding their breaths.

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2 Comments

  1. The new report argues that when a stray cosmic ray matter particle collides with Earth or a Neutron star, dangerous black holes are not produced.

    But this report also asks us to make one heck of an assumption without explaination, that a single cosmic ray particle impact with Earth or Neutron stars will produce the same results as all possible collider conditions, including colliding thousands of tightly packed anti-matter particles head on against thousands of tightly packed matter particles or colliding particles of Gold or Lead head on at 99.9999991% of the speed of light with powerful magnets to focus the energy and exactly opposing momentums that might create dangerous black holes at rest with respect to Earth.

    I am very interested in what the world’s scientists conclude after examining this report in detail.
    I for one would prefer to take what ever time is necessary to assure reasonable safety before collisions begin.

    Studying the new safety report at LHCFacts.org

  2. one could wish these hypothetical black holes would suck down all the pseudo-environmentalist watermelon-colored wingnuts, no :P

    anyway, yea … much more goes on in the heart of our own homestar than what would go on in the supercollider. Actually I read some cool stuff recently about CAST – CERN Axion Solar Telescope, regarding the search for dark matter.

    http://www.livescience.com/space/080617-st-dark-matter.html

    I love CERN and what they do.


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