August 29, 2008
Holes in Space
I was listening to Science Friday today and they were discussing the Lance Hadron Collider (LHC) which is set to be turned on for the first time to cause a collision of lead ions going just barely less than the speed of light with lead ions going in the opposite direction. While hopefully not creating a sudden burst of everything as in the Big Bang, it appears very shortly (September 10th 2008) scientists are going to potentially destroy the world (maybe, well probably not according to them)...by possibly creating a micro black hole (mBH) on Earth. The actual purpose of the LHC is to determine if the Higgs boson particle exists which will help prove/disprove a bunch of confusing science such as: the unified field theory, the theory of everything, super symmetry, string theory and the relationship between all sorts of matter, energy, antimatter, dark matter, and so on. Even though its hard to grasp a lot of the concepts at stake, there is a lot of awesome scientific knowledge could be gained by this 18 billion dollar experiment, which has been in the works for decades and the work of about 60 countries and thousands of contributing scientists; so I'm only kidding about any realistic concerns; although just the same I'm slightly nervous because I first heard about the LHC when I heard about a law suit filed in Hawaii against CERN back in March of this year based on a concern that an accidental micro-black-hole (mBH) might also be created. And apparently while the likelihood of a mBH being created is considered reasonable, there are differences of opinion over just how much of a danger that would actually be. Hawking predicted such a small black hole may just “evaporate” (evaporation of a black hole however may cause a massive amount of energy to be released). Here's more about the governments response to the lawsuit (which since filed in Hawaii will not impact the progress of the LHC regardless).
As the Science Friday interviewee Dan Hooper explains, cosmic rays strike the earths atmosphere constantly in similar circumstances to those the LHC will create. But I wonder, is it really fair to consider what happens where the atmosphere meets space with the conditions down on the ground? So I'm a little unsure if I should be unconcerned.
CERN (stands for: the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is responsible for building the LHC, which is currently the worlds most powerful particle accelerator (CERN its worth noting was also responsible for the creation of the World Wide Web back in the early 90s as a format for sharing information – the WWW is not to be confused with the actual Internet; which was created over a decade earlier).
If you have any confusion about what the LHC is intended to discover (and I sure still do), watch this amusing video: