Azara Blog: The CERN LHC is allegedly not going to cause the universe to end

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Date published: 2008/06/23

The BBC says:

Our planet is not at risk from the world's most powerful particle physics experiment, a report has concluded.

The document addresses fears that the Large Hadron Collider is so energetic, it could have unforeseen consequences.

Critics are worried that mini-black holes made at the soon-to-open facility on the French-Swiss border might threaten the Earth's very existence.

But the report, issued the European Organization for Nuclear Research, says there is "no conceivable danger".

The organization - known better by its French acronym, Cern - will operate the collider underground in a 27km-long tunnel near Geneva.

This Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a powerful and complicated machine, which will smash together protons at super-fast speeds in a bid to unlock the secrets of the Universe.

Six "detectors" - individual experiments - will count, trace and analyse the particles that emerge from the collisions.

Most physicists believe the risk of a cataclysm lies in the realms of science fiction. But there have been fears about the possibility of a mini-black hole - produced in the collider - swelling so that it gobbles up the Earth.

Critics have previously raised concerns that the production of weird hypothetical particles called strangelets in the LHC could trigger the mass conversion of nuclei in ordinary atoms into more strange matter - transforming the Earth into a hot, dead lump.

The lay language summary of the report, which has been written by Cern's top theorists, states: "Over the past billions of years, nature has already generated on Earth as many collisions as about a million LHC experiments - and the planet still exists."

Needless to say, any report issued by CERN saying that there is no problem with the LHC is not going to impress anyone, in particular, the nutters who believe that the world will end if the LHC (or pretty much any random bit of technology they don't like) goes into operation. (In any case, if the world is going to end, this alleged method is about as good as it gets. Far better than most scenarios, if somewhat sooner.)

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