Two men pursuing a lawsuit in a court in Hawaii…think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole that will spell the end of the Earth – and maybe the universe.

Scientists say that is very unlikely – though they have done some checking just to make sure.

The world’s physicists have spent 14 years and $8 billion building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.

But Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a “strangelet” that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called “strange matter.” Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act.

This is not the first time around for Wagner. He filed similar suits in 1999 and 2000 to prevent the Brookhaven National Laboratory from operating the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. That suit was dismissed in 2001. The collider, which smashes together gold ions in the hopes of creating what is called a “quark-gluon plasma,” has been operating without incident since 2000.

What is there to say? Scientists have a built-in switch for skepticism. It’s an inherent part of how projects like CERN have always been developed.

Wingnuts who call the sum of peer-reviewed investigation and reflection “propaganda” deserve a minimum of attention – or less.

  1. Vegas Bob says:

    “Oops I did it again”
    or “Don’t worry be happy”

  2. noname says:

    “Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act.”
    Why should they? It’s the EUROPEAN Center for Nuclear Research.

  3. Awake says:

    Calculations by respected physicists indicate that CERN is not only likely, but certain to produce ‘Black Holes’ at a rate as high as 1 per second. The lifetime of the black hole is expected to be 1xE-23, while the distance that it could cover is 1xE-11 minimum. The problem is that if for some unexpected reason the black hole lasts longer than the time that it takes it to travel to the edge of the experiment chamber, it could start to grow uncontrollably, eventually consuming the planet. The extra mass required for the longer lifetime could come from something as simple as an extra atom free in the vacuum chamber. And there are legitimate questions about the whole theory of Black Hole dissolution based on Higgins radiation… it may be outright wrong… which means that CERN created Black holes may in many cases have an indefinite lifetime.
    It is not insane (not ‘nutbally’) to exercise deep caution when the results can theoretically be so catastrophic, and the rewards so slim and ethereal. On the contrary, it seems insane to proceed given even the remote possibility of an earth destroying event.
    Interestingly, as time passes, the theories that showed that there would/could not be a problem are falling apart, and many physicists are starting to challenge the sanity of CERN given new data.

  4. god says:

    Uh, you can offer up a link to some peer-reviewed journal of all the physicists who are challenging “the sanity of CERN”?

    Or is there a plot to cover-up the resistance movement?

    And – how’s your supply of aluminum foil?

  5. RTaylor says:

    I’ve seen the damn movie, and this doesn’t turn out well.

  6. tucker says:

    no offence to the good people of the US and A, but what the hell has it got to do with an American court, be it in Hawaii or Washington DC, what people do or say in Europe. I hope the court says they have to stop and CERN tells them to feck off!

  7. becagle says:

    Well, if they do produce a blackhole that distroys the earth. We won’t have to worry about the presidential campaign, the falling dollar, or the war in Iraq. Sounds like a fair trade to me.

  8. Jeff says:

    Or maybe this will create a black whole and the earth will travel through it and we can meet ourselves like in some really bad science fiction movie from the past.

    Who wants to start an office pool on what really happens?

    Some ideas:
    A). the universe is destroyed
    B). Earth is vacuum packed, sent into parallel universe
    C). goes as planned, interesting results
    D). nothing… literally nothing at all

  9. bobbo says:

    I just saw “Slaughterhouse 5” last night. The universe ends when a Tramforian (sp?) pilot presses the wrong button.

    fiction of course “but” as I understand in my limited way the Cern collider is MEANT TO create black holes? Those things that absorb and compress to infinity evrything within their event horizon? And the safety aspect is that before these black holes which are MEANT TO BE CREATED go catastrophic, there is an unproven theory that Hawking radiation will extinguish this black hole before it reaches the side of the containment vessel or before it runs into a single stray atom in the chamber? Have I got this right?

    Now, lets weigh the possible destruction of our solar system with the benefits to be had here. We’ll get to confirm certain things that existed at the start of time for what use again?

    Gee, if I had a vote, it would be “no.”

  10. Ah_Yea says:

    Got two things here.

    1st, according to Hawking and a host of others, black holes which could theoretically be created at CERN would evaporate. Although it’s a bit much to go into here, these black holes are so small that any additional mass entering into them would elongate the black hole mass resulting in an unstable cross section which will cause the black hole to tear itself apart. Or so we hope…

    #2, This somewhat reminds me of the scientists at Trinity (Alamogordo) who placed bets that the first atomic bomb test would ignite the atmosphere, thus ending all life on earth.

  11. Uncle Ben says:

    I wonder if there is a way that black holes can be used to suck excess green house gasses out of the air?

    😀 😀 😀

  12. gquaglia says:

    I love reading some of the comments here. I would love to know how many have any formal education in particle physics. Leave these decisions to people who actually know what the fuck they are talking about and stick to what you seem to know best, bashing Bush.

  13. TheGlobalWarmer says:

    Earth was destroyed exactly this way in Hogan’s Thrice Upon a Time. Only thing that saved them was they were also able to send communciations back in time and tell themselves not to turn it on.

    Didn’t we just have a caption contest for a picture of an elephant digging around in a black hole?

    If it does wipe us out, what a cool way to go.

  14. Jägermeister says:

    People worry too much.

  15. bobbo says:

    #12–Ah Yeah==exactly right. How many “bet the universe” wagers can we make before “the unexpected happens?” I’m just saying==make an informed wager==are the benefits worth the risk? Beating the Nazi’s to the atom bomb had a high return. Confirming some theory about first particles in the universe strikes me as somewhat less rewarding.

    #14–gquaglia==particularly ignorant thing to say/think/post. I won’t go looking at your other posts, but assume you are an atheist–or otherwise don’t think people should “blindly follow some religion?” So===don’t.

  16. bill says:

    Little black pills that are better than liposuction!!!!

    Oh wait they are for constipation wait!!!!!

  17. gquaglia says:

    #17 What???? Don’t remember mentioning religion at all. Learn how to read and understand.

  18. floyd says:

    #14, #19: too late. Bobbo got sucked into a black hole of his own making.

    By the way, I actually have taken an undergraduate class in particle physics (It was required of engineering students at Purdue), but I’m no physicist, and way too much has been discovered/updated between 1970 and now. The closest I ever came to using any of this stuff is when I worked in a laser lab.

    I know a PhD in physics who feels she’s fallen behind in just 5 years, just because she doesn’t use that part of her education in her current job.

  19. hhopper says:

    Uh-oh… Maybe the karma of the human race has come due.

  20. Shubee says:

    The particle accelerator … might produce a black hole that will spell the end of the Earth – and maybe the universe.

    The biggest crackpots are the hucksters that have said, “that is very unlikely – though they have done some checking just to make sure.”

  21. thinker says:

    Ok sorry… Like #2 said.

    Hawaii over here…

    CERN(Europe) over there…

    What was the question? And why was it not brought up in the Hauge [sic, I know]


    ps. the guy needs to cut out too much sci-fi on the weekends. Tooooo much.

  22. gregallen says:

    I’m not prone to paranoia but, I have to confess, this one concerns me a little.

    Even a very small black hole could easily suck up the earth, right?

  23. bobbo says:

    Well ok, gquaglia at #14 recommends a faith based approach to science and the spending of our tax dollars when he says; “Leave these decisions to people who actually know what the fuck they are talking about.” When it comes to “values” there is no group to leave decisions to. Values, is not rocket science or exploratory surgery.

    Exploration of fundamental particles that INTENDS TO PRODUCE BACK HOLES with only a theory as to why they won’t consume our solar system, IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC QUESTION, it is a question of values. I might ok the expense of money, time, and talent to beat the Nazi’s, but not for some esoteric point of scientific curiousity.

    Again, NOT A SCIENTIFIC ISSUE–but a public policy one based on values.

  24. amodedoma says:

    Anybody know if those european scientists give a shiz or if they’ve ever heard of the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act?
    Europe has it’s own environmental agencies and standards, Geneva isn’t exactly in the third world. Althrough history there’ve been nutballs tryin to keep those crazy scientists from destroying everything (especially nutball ignorance). Take the ignorance away from most nutballs and there’s nothing left.

  25. gquaglia says:

    #25 Bobo, you have serious issues. Best turn yourself in, so the nice men in white uniforms can take you back to your padded room.

  26. JimR says:

    I happen to be an expert of black holes. I’ve created several of them before, and some earth HAS slipped into them. However hey tend to get smaller, not larger over time, until they completely disappear. I can assure you than none of them could swallow the whole earth.

    If anyone wants a demonstration, I’ll bring over my auger.

  27. Charliehorse43 says:

    Sounds like a win win deal. If it works like it should we do some good science. If it does not work then no more worrying about global warming.

  28. RBG says:

    “Scientists say that (destruction of Earth & all mankind) is very unlikely” What’s that… about Hillary’s chances of getting the nomination? The New York Giants winning the Superbowl?

    BTW, anyone have any ideas about why after billions of years the universe is not populated with ETs?


  29. B. Dog says:

    There was a discussion thread on this very topic over on Slashdot. The thing that put my mind at ease the most was the comment that cosmic rays are far morepowerful than the energies produced in these supercolliders.

  30. Awake says:

    To those asking for links to what I say in some of my posts… basically doing that is an utter waste of time, proves nothing and is an exercise in petty arguing. Basically I can provide a link and a quote to anything on the Web, so providing them proves nothing. Want a link proving the existence of UFO’s? Sure. How about a link proving the existence of Leprechauns? I can provide it.
    So it really boils down to a matter of doing your own research, listening to what other people have to say and reaching your own conclusions… not basing your views on some links that may have no basis and prove nothing.

    Just a little research will show you that the proposed CERN experiments are being considered more dangerous as time goes by, and doubt is increasing by many scientists that this is a wise thing to do, and that given the present knowledge and the limited payoff, maybe the project should be redirected.

    If you are interested in that perspective, then do a little research yourself. If you are not interested in alternate outcomes because of preconceptions or dogma, no amount of links is going to do anything to change your mind, since you will find other links to prove the opposite.

    For example, no amount of links is going to convince either the pro or anti climate change camps that either is wrong… it only those that have an open mind and are willing to do the homework themselves that will be able to reach a personal conclusion.

    So if you are intrigued by the basic idea that CERN may be dangerous to the physical existence of the earth itself, do a little reading on your own.

    One place to start… the validity of Higgins Radiation theories and how they have changed in the last ten years.


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