Science Tomorrow People
posted by March 29 at 12:15 PMon
More strife in Iraq. U.S. financial system in crisis. Rice prices soar.
None of these headlines will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in a court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They 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.
We in the future that has been here since the end of the space age have so much to worry about.