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Physicists Collide with Doomsayers

Photonics.com
Sep 2008
Sep. 10, 2008 — Recently, theoretical chemist Otto Rössler and others have protested the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, fearing that the world’s largest particle accelerator will produce massive black holes that will swallow Earth. Proponents of the collider say that it will help scientists understand how the universe formed after the Big Bang.

Physicists in favor of the particle accelerator concede a small chance that tiny black holes could form, but say that they would be too small to suck in Earth. Despite all protests, the collider will be turned on Wednesday. Rössler says that the world will end within four years of turning it on. Is the world going to end? I’ll let you know.

Doomsayers have predicted the end of the world since the beginning of time. Nostradamus foretold, “In the year 1999, and seven months, from the sky will come the great King of Terror,” but I lived through 1999. We all did. I don’t know about you, but it was the last year of high school for me, and since I had already lived through four years of hell, I did not find the end of the world so scary. Many people also said that the Y2K computer bug would cause widespread economic doom, but it didn’t. George Bush did.

On the other hand, the end of the world could happen. After all, the dinosaurs met their doom on Earth. Some scientists say it was a meteor. Others say climate change. We’re facing serious climate change right now in the form of global warming. We’d be fools to think that we couldn’t destroy Earth through excess pollution or nuclear warfare. Isn’t that what the Large Hadron Collider is, “nuclear?”

Yet, in all seriousness, the Large Hadron Collider will drive elementary particles through a circular tunnel at breakneck speeds, yet it hardly will be enough energy to generate a giant black hole, though I’d be a little unnerved if I were just an ordinary French villager living above the collider, which runs through both France and Switzerland.

It's more likely that the physicists won’t find what they’re looking for, the so-called “God particle” that explains the origin of matter. One thing’s for sure. With a projected cost more than $8 billion for the particle accelerator, taxpayers will feel the end of the world coming before anyone else.
 
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For more information on the Large Hadron Collider, see: 

Collider Beams Up at CERN
 
Threats Won't Stop Collider



GLOSSARY
black hole
A hypothetical cosmic phenomenon in which the mass and density of a star pass a critical point so that the escape velocity matches the speed of light. For this reason, light and matter are "captured'' by the black hole and cannot escape.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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