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If The Large Hadron Collider Produced A Microscopic Black Hole, It Probably Wouldn't Matter

Date:
June 30, 2008
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
Particle colliders creating black holes that could devour the Earth. Sounds like a great Hollywood script. But, according to UC Santa Barbara Physics Professor Steve Giddings, it's pure fiction. Giddings has co-authored a paper documenting his study of the safety of microscopic black holes that might possibly be produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is nearing completion in Europe.

A worker inside the Large Hadron Collider tunnel.
Credit: Copyright CERN

Particle colliders creating black holes that could devour the Earth. Sounds like a great Hollywood script. But, according to UC Santa Barbara Physics Professor Steve Giddings, it's pure fiction.

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Giddings has co-authored a paper documenting his study of the safety of microscopic black holes that might possibly be produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is nearing completion in Europe. The paper, co-authored by Michelangelo Mangano of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), which is building the world's largest particle collider, investigates hypothesized behavior of tiny black holes that might be created by high-energy collisions in the CERN particle accelerator.

If they appear at all, these black holes would exist for "about a nano-nano-nanosecond," Giddings said, adding that they would have no effect of consequence. However, the paper studies whether there could be any large-scale effects in an extremely hypothetical situation where the black holes don't evaporate.

The Giddings/Mangano study concludes that such microscopic black holes would be harmless. In fact, he added, nature is continuously creating LHC-like collisions when much higher-energy cosmic rays collide with the Earth's atmosphere, with the Sun, and with other objects such as white dwarfs and neutron stars. If such collisions posed a danger, the consequences for Earth or these astronomical objects would have become evident already, Giddings said.

"The future health of our planet and the safety of its people are of paramount concern to us all," Giddings said. "There were already very strong physics arguments that there is no risk from hypothetical micro black holes, and we've provided additional arguments ruling out risk even under very bizarre hypotheses."

The LHC, near Geneva, Switzerland, is expected to begin operations this summer. It will collide proton beams at levels of energy never before produced in a particle accelerator. Those results will then be studied for clues to new forces of nature, and possibly even extra dimensions of space. The first collision of beams is likely to be in September. The $8 billion project has taken 14 years.

Two men have filed a federal lawsuit in Hawaii in an attempt to halt the LHC due to their concerns about the safety of black holes. Giddings' study has been cited by CERN as evidence of the safety of the LHC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "If The Large Hadron Collider Produced A Microscopic Black Hole, It Probably Wouldn't Matter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080627175348.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2008, June 30). If The Large Hadron Collider Produced A Microscopic Black Hole, It Probably Wouldn't Matter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080627175348.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "If The Large Hadron Collider Produced A Microscopic Black Hole, It Probably Wouldn't Matter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080627175348.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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