large hadron collider A while back, I wrote about the Large Hadron Collider in CERN Switzerland that was due to start up in May. Well folks, that story has been developing significantly. The LHC is the newest, biggest particle accelerator ever. Physicists are very excited by the prospects of this amazing machine starting up because it will allow them to study aspects of sub-atomic particles that will answer questions about the nature of the universe.

The imminent big question is whether use of LHC will cause doomsday for our planet! The physicists who want to get the Collider going say that the fears are based on outlandish theoretical possibilities. Nonetheless if any of these fears prove true they could spell the end of Earth. But how much have you heard about this relatively important news story? “Nada,” you say, but you’ve been hearing non-stop about Barack Obama’s bowling score. Hmmm. Twenty-four hour news channels and no word of a possible matter-eating black hole in Switzerland which could end the world.

At the time of my last posting the LHC was due to start-up in May. Now I hear the experiments will begin in August. In addition to the Russian scientists, Irina Aref’eva and Igor Volovich who have voiced fears, now Walter Wagner, a former nuclear safety officer, and Luis Sancho have filed a lawsuit in Hawaii (?) to stop the start-up.

What do these people think could happen?

1) A miniature black hole which could swallow the Earth (or just the LHC) .

2) Creation of strangelet particles which could turn all other particles they touch into strangelets too.

3) Magnetic mono-poles (large particles with only one magnetic pole) could be created which could turn atoms into an alternate form of matter.

There is a lot of fodder here for science fiction or very dark humor or maybe even a real doomsday. Frankly I think we are much more likely to be wiped out by an overpopulation of the human species sped up by mass die-outs of bees and other pollinators (birds and bats) but it would be nice to be aware that one day in August might be our last.

For more detailed info check out: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/03/27/823924.aspx

And kudos to science writer Alan Boyle for noticing, and MSNBC for publishing a page not about the U.S. Primaries.

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