Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Oh, You Poor LHC Blackholes. You Were So Much Fun When You Almost Existed!

Remember all the brouhaha when the LHC was about to fire up and the whackos were out in force trying to stop it because they thought it will create blackholes that will destroy our planet? Wonder what happened to them now that the LHC has been in operation, and we are all still here. Hey, there's always the next apocalyptic event to get busy for, I suppose.

The latest analysis out of the ATLAS collaboration at the LHC has published a paper in search of these quantum blackholes at the LHC. Their conclusion? None has been found.

Had such QBHs been created, they would have decayed into various particles that could be seen with the ATLAS detectors. ATLAS looked for a specific set of predicted decay products: an electron or a muon and a quark jet. While the search came up empty, the analysis set a lower bound of 5 TeV on the mass of QBHs, which may help guide future searches.

Now, let's be clear about this, since there might be people out there reading this and automatically assume that (i) if we do detect these blackholes, then (ii) it will automatically mean we'll be dead. There is a HUGE series of logical step that needs to connect from (i) to (ii), and so far, all our physics point to the knowledge that these quantum blackholes, if they get created, will be extremely fleeting, will decay very fast (that's why they're looking for the decay signals at ATLAS), and they are not these gravitational blackholes swallow galaxies! I often wish that many of these reports and news article clarify that, rather than simply go for the sensational, headline news that skip over important details.

So we haven't found it at 8 TeV yet, and the LHC will run at a much higher energy soon enough. There's no guarantee that they'll find it at these higher energies, but even if they do (and I hope they do), this has nothing to do with ending our existence on this earth here! There is a higher probability that we will kill each other first before we get killed by some stray blackhole!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog piece makes me think of a kid with a hammer surrounded by artillery shells. Dingggg. "See?" he says. "It's safe".

IMHO there's a dreadful catch-22 stupidity with all this. Stupid thing number 1 is even expecting that black holes can be produced in a collider. Stupid thing number 2 is assuming that black holes evaporate. Stupid thing number 3 is writing papers about it. Then the public and politicians will think of the kid with the hammer. No, it won't kill us. But it could kill HEP. See Laurence Yaffe's recent analysis.