Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The End of the World at the Large Hadron Collider?

Hardly, but nothing like an attention-grabbing title like that, eh?

Just in time for the first circulating proton beam at the LHC tomorrow morning, we have an excellent viewpoint review article by Micheal Peskin of SLAC. In this article, he analyzes the points made by Steven Giddings and Michelangelo Mangano in their PRD paper on the possibility of a catastrophic black hole formation at the LHC.

Again, nothing here is new, but it now presented hopefully in a clearer fashion for the general public to read and maybe understand. And this is based on a peer-reviewed paper in a respected journal written by an expert in the field, not just some amateur writing his/her opinion on some blog or website, or even some "ArXiv" publication. If you consider your sources carefully, you should be able to draw up your own conclusion on who you should believe.

This article actually brought up an interesting and often overlooked point.

Nonetheless, there is one case that is especially subtle, the idea that the LHC will produce microscopic black holes that will grow to macroscopic size, slowly turning the whole earth into a black hole. Let me stress, first of all, that there is no actual theory that leads to this conclusion. You may judge this from the fact that my well-informed colleagues are all planning sabbaticals at CERN in Geneva, while none of them are moving to Melbourne.

I can unequivocally tell you without a doubt that no one is MORE concerned about my safety and my family's safety and well-being than I do. And I am extremely certain that no one is more concerned about the well-being and safety of those people working at CERN than .... those people working at CERN! You can bet your Stephen Hawking dollar that if there is a distinct chance that such a disaster will occur, these bright and intelligent people would not be there, and would have voiced their opinion. After all, they, more than anyone else, understand both the physics and the intricate detail of the experiment. This is a fact that cannot be denied. Considering that these knowledgeable people (certainly more knowledgeable than most blog and webpage writers, present company included) chose to be there and present during first collision should be a very loud and clearest message on the issue of safety of the LHC experiment.


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