LHC: go for injection!

By Phil Plait | September 9, 2008 9:30 pm

Tonight, at 03:30 Eastern (US) time, the world will not end. That’s when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) turns on.

The world won’t end for two reasons. Well three. The first is it didn’t end the night before, or the night before that, and so on for several billion nights past, so odds are pretty good it won’t end tonight. Historically, it’s the way to bet.

The second reason is that the LHC cannot — C A N N O T — do anything to destroy the world. It can’t make eensy black holes, or quark nuggets, or anything like that. If someone tells you otherwise, they’re wrong. We’ve been over this. Don’t make me turn this thing around.

The third reason is that what’s going to happen tonight is that protons will be injected into the accelerator proper for the first time. They will be constrained and accelerated by fierce magnetic fields, and will zoom around the LHC’s 27 kilometer circumference… in one direction only.

Got that? Those protons will be moving at just a hair under the speed of light, but they’ll all be moving in the same direction. That whole "C" thing in the LHC? That stands for Collider, and if all the protons are going the same way, they won’t collide.

So even if you cling tenaciously to your antiscientific beliefs despite overwhelming evidence against them, you still can’t destroy the planet with a collider if nothing is colliding.

So if you hear someone saying they’re worried/terrified/plotzing themselves over the LHC turning on tonight, you can point them here and tell them that there’s nothing to worry about. There won’t be anything to worry about later in the year, when protons are injected into the other beam moving the other way, so that they can actually, y’know, collide. But there’s really nothing to be concerned about for tonight.

And if I sound a little snarky, well, I’ve been through about a dozen major doomsday scares in the past decade, and I can’t help but notice that every day I still get up and brush my teeth, just as if the Earth hasn’t been destroyed. I also can’t help but notice that these claims of doom and gloom and boom always seem to come from people who just don’t get the science.

People who do get the science say there’s no worry. And y’know what? They’re right. We’re still here. We’ll still be here tomorrow, and we’ll still be here during, after, and long after the LHC goes to its full power proton smashing sciencey goodness.

Sleep tight. Tomorrow will come (and for a lot of you, you’re reading this after the LHC is already up to speed, so there you go), and the next, and the next. And eventually, when the LHC is working at capacity, there will come a tomorrow when we understand the Universe just a little bit better. Maybe even a lot better. And you know why?

Because it’s science. And science tends to work.

Arrogance? Nope. Confidence.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Cool stuff, Debunking, Science

Comments (175)

  1. Mike

    Okay…. I’ll repeat myself… The comment in the last post didn’t seem to take.

    I think I know how the big bang began. It started when scientists decided to build a Large Hadron Collider about 13-14 billi0n years ago to find out what the origin of their Universe was.

    Thus, we repeat not ourselves, but history. 😉

  2. Phil:
    When is the first collision expected? Are they gonna sit on the results for a year as is done with Hubble results? The wait would be excruciating! Dunno if I could stand it! 😀

  3. The good news on this side of the Pacific is that nearly all the news media is covering it – interviewing Paul Davies, Brian Cox et al – and they’re getting minutes to talk instead of 5 second news bites. Yay science but the simultaneous collective nerdgasm this afternoon (Eastern Australian time) might just knock the earth of its axis.

  4. To be 100% fair, if the world does end, then no one’s going to be around to read this and say “Told you so” anyway.

    For the record, I’m being totally facetious.

    Fantastic day for science!

  5. Tucker

    It’s too bad the ‘A Brief History of the Apocalypse’ website hasn’t been updated since 2005, this LHC stuff would make great contributions.

  6. There is a leaked video on You Tube from CERN (LHC Black hole simulation Large Hadron Collider CERN) there is more to this than meets the eye, the black hole is not the concern, it is the revelation that may shatter our perception of reality.

    The link is on http://godparticle.net which has insight into the revelation. Do you really think they would spend 6 billion dollars just to find a particle? The truth is related to energy, the ability to turn mass on and off, and the revelation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFYlbsTlCk0

  7. Me











    The world won’t end for two reasons. Well three. The first is it didn’t end the night before, or the night before that, and so on for several billion nights past, so odds are pretty good it won’t end tonight. Historically, it’s the way to bet.

  8. Me






    DO YOU?


  9. Me




  10. PG

    Hmm… I’m gonna assume that last post by “Me” was a joke. Either that, someone let their cat get to close to the keyboard (reads like lolspeak to me). “I’m in ur LHC, testing ur theeriez!”

    Also, I don’t think we need an expert team of scientists to tell us you’re gonna get hurt falling off the 16th floor. I also don’t think, that if we did, that there’d be too many of them saying “It’s OK, jump- you’ll be fine!”

  11. I’d have liked them to have it activated later in the day, just so I can go to a pub and say “Barkeep, 6 pints of bitter… and quickly, please. The world’s about to end.”


  12. PG

    @IMForeman: “Should we lie down and put bags over our heads or something?” 😉

  13. tresmal

    I think “me” is not exactly aligned with his geoid.

  14. Wayne

    One positive thing about all this is that EVERYONE knows about LHC, and I’m speaking as someone who has also had to reassure people today that the world isn’t going to be destroyed. If not for the undercurrent of hysteria, I doubt most people would have ever heard of the LHC, much less have any idea what it’s for or when it is turning on. I’m not sure if there really is no such thing as bad publicity, but in this case I think it will be a net gain.

    That was great satire… That WAS satire… right?

  15. Mikeu

    At Me: What drugs are you on? And I hope it’s not a bender.. dude are you on crack or meth?

  16. Josh


    As someone who’s also worked for Phil’s former employer rather recently (STScI), most Hubble images are kept and ‘sat’ on to give the scientists time to analyze the data and publish their work. Science is cuthroat, and sadly, there are those who would quickly snipe the data and have articles published, thus screwing the scientists who actually worked hard to get the data.

    As for LHC data, I’m not sure its going to be sat on in the way you’re thinking of. Because of all the data that they are going to collect, it could actually take them YEARS even with the IMMENSE computing power at their disposal to find the Higgs Boson and other particles they theorize should exist. It will take a network of over 80,000 computers at the LHC alone, with 300 other computer centers in 50 countries around the world, to process all the data. 15,000,000 gigabytes of data per year is the rough estimate of what will be generated. Something like 10,000 researchers from around the world will have access to the data, and I’m sure it’ll be publicly available as soon as its possible. I’ll post a timeline as soon as I can find it of the experiments the LHC is planning to do over the next decade.

    Last but not least, first collisions should start occuring 2 months from now, around November 7th.

  17. Luke

    I am just curious as to how many cosmic rays hit the earth every second? Also do any of these particles actually get trapped by the earths gravity, or do they all fly off into space.

    I know the whole mBH scare is 100% theoretical and neutron stars basically prove mBH can’t “suck” in matter at an appreciable level or time scale.

  18. Completely with you here. Just one niggle: There will be collisions – completely harmless ones, but still. I mean, Once they’ve spun those protons around for a while and seen that it all works, they’re going to let them smack into something dense. There won’t be a collision in the detector itself, is all.

    I very, very much doubt they will gently lower the speed until, at the very end, they can be diverted into a side tunnel where a graduate student with a tiny baseball glove catches them one by one and returns them into a case – each one in their own snug proton-shaped pocket and nameplates – ready to be taken out and used again for another experiment. Or maybe they do; grad students are cheap.

  19. Colin M

    Even if there were a 1 in 50 million chance of the Large Hadron Collider destroying the world, *on average* that’s only 120 people who die per LHC built. A small price to pay for the advancement of science.


  20. Ken

    This cartoon sums it up creation of universe. I like it as it reminds me of Gregory Benford’s scifi novel “Cosm.”

  21. madge

    It’s 6 am here and I am listening to BBC radio 4’s Big bang Day. They will be live in the control room at Cern! I am REALLY looking forward to this

  22. AG

    Oh, something WILL happen all right: the plague of news coverage re the “end of the world” will end. Or move to some other assortment of bread and circuses. And Phil will have a brief respite from gritting his teeth and dealing with such foolishness.

    @me: ROFL. I was supposed to read that aloud in the Bobcat Goldthwait voice, right? Because that’s the sound all-caps makes in my head, and for those two posts it *totally* worked. Thanks!

  23. Ryan

    This is just an excuse for physics grad students to party.


  24. «bønez_brigade»

    CERN’s live webcast (which will probably be bogged down):

    (9AM CEST should be 2AM EST, BTW)

  25. Salaam Shalom Peace

    The BA said :

    “Because it’s science. And science tends to work.
    Arrogance? Nope. Confidence.”

    Well that’s your opinion anyway. Many others view what you – and the other scientists call “confidence”as being arrogant. It depends on where you stand and how you view things.

    Yes, science has done some wonderful things of great benefit to us all.

    But it has also given us some horrendous things placing us and our living planet in terrible danger.

    You can ( & Dr Phil Plait usuallydoes) just cherry-pick the good things science has done as scientists and science believrs here always do – understanding bacteria and viruses and how to combat them, modern surgery and health science, modern computers the net, etc .. :-)
    That’s all well and good BUT …

    WLets NEVER forget that science has also created the Atomic bomb inwhose shadow we have all been living. Scientific “experts” once wrongly told us DDT is safe, CFC’s are great and has falsely reasssured us that nuclear fission is the best thing yet and safe and that things like the space shuttle and concorde will how everyone gets around today.Scientists have created new toxins and pollutants, hazardous wastes and deadly wastelands, new carcinogens and an ever-growing list of ghastly, nightmarish means of killing people, from the days of the spiked-wheel chariot through to today’s thermonuclear Bomb and genetically engineered bioweapons :-(

    Science is a double-edged sword.

    Some science is good, some science very much evil.

    When you’ve got a double-edged sword you need to hold and use it with great care and wisdom.

    You need religion – ethics in least – to be the guide as to what sort of science we will benefit from doing and what things we arebdeetter off without.

    The scientists say the LHC is safe. Well forgive me for saying so, but then they would say that wouldn’t they. A team of self-interested scientist keen to play with their new toy has conducted a study saying “Don’t worry, allwillbe okay.” Hmm .. I’m not convinced. They told us that (in an equally patronising confident /arrogant manner) about DDT, about agent orange, about thalidomide and about Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island. :-(

    Sorry, I do NOT believe the Scientist;’ balse reassurances or their study whose conclusions were inevitable from thesecond they decidedonitas aPR trick. Werreany of the LHC’s opponents given a chance toput their case in the Scientists study? Thought not.

    I think the LHC proponents have blinded themselves. If they knew for sure what would happen they wouldn’t need to built the LHC in the first place.

    They tell us they want to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang or at the heart of a quasar. Quasars are wonderful, fascinating and amazing objects -but we can’t live in them!

    If there is even a microscopic chance of the LHC going wrong – and I think there very clearly is – then with the stakes so high – I think e need to look at that double-edged sword of science – the LHC science esp. and say. “Nope we’not going to risk getting blood onthat.”

    The smart, the wise, the *really* intelligent thing to do is to NOT turn the LHC on. To know when its smarter & more ethical to NOT conduct the experiment than to plunge ahead and risk disaster.

    If nature creates these particles then sure, lets observe them -from the very safe distance of trillions of light-years away. They’re created that far away from us for a very good reason; you don’t want to be standing on a black hole – it isn’t good for your health! :-) You don’t want to be sitting next to a supernova when it goes off. You don’t want our Earth to become a black hole or quasar or even just have vapourise Geneva and create a huge empty, lifeless crater at the core of Europe.

    So pity’s sake scientists, please think a bit harder and do the right thing by everyone – including even yourslves. Don’t turn the LHC on.

    Just as there are moratoriums – or outright bans – on human cloning and on genetic engineering and as there are many “nuclear free zones” declared around the world so should there also be a ban on supercolliders like CERN’s. Some things really are better off left alone. The atom – & the “God particle” are two of them.

    toiorisky and wen
    I think there should

  26. Dagger

    Well Me, here’s hoping your father doesn’t let you. Again. Ever.

  27. JSco


    It’s not so much about being trapped by the Earth’s gravity. Most of the particles created by cosmic ray collisions are charged and are therefore stopped *much* more quickly by electromagnetic interactions with the atmosphere than by any gravitational effects (which is why most don’t even reach us – phew!)
    Black holes can also be charged. I suspect this is more likely if they are created in particle collisions than stellar collapse. If that’s the case then they will also be stopped by the Earth. The we’re still here argument is a winner with me!

  28. @Richard Thomas (John Boy Walton???):
    Ummm, dude, that video wasn’t made by the good folks at CERN. More like some religious nutjobs if you ask me.

    Madge, did you eat your dippy toast before the show?

    I really do hope the world doesn’t end tonight. I ran out of beer.

  29. X

    I am worried, the sky just turned orange.

  30. KeaponLaffin

    Again gonna plug this site, because of the lulz, sorry.

    I’m sorry to say:

    And noone noticed. Kinda sad.
    As for when they actually started smashing things, my GF is in the UK so she’s closer than I am. If the Earth is destroyed(again) I asked her to take pictures. If the Earth started to get eaten or the fabric of space started to become ‘undone’ I figure she’d have a better vantage point.
    Will link to pictures of geocide or univercide(sp?) as soon as they’re available.
    <<oddly feels like Arthur Dent

  31. Deepak

    The doomsday theory has actually helped popularize the LHC experiment. Every common man today is aware about LHC and that it is doing some experiment to understand the universe better. We should actually thank and encourage the doomsday theorist to scream more so that science wins everytime they are proven wrong.

    Doomsdayers have given more publicity and advertisement to LHC than scientist could ever have managed to do. On this count the doomsdayers win..!!

  32. vombatus

    You can check the outcome at http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/

    Dont forget to look at the source :)

  33. Have Faith Have Voice

    Truth is scientists are arrogant – and blinded by their own pride.

    Thus they are searching for God in all the wrong places.

    You won’t find God by splitting particles (well not unless you blow yourselves up that way!) :-)

    You’ll find God and Who really created the Cosmos and Why by searching your soul, reading the Holy Bible, going to Church and discovering for yourselves our Risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and his Almighty Father the Creator God who Loves us all – even the unbeleivers and arrogant prideful, self-worshipping scientists who scoff and mock his Holy words.

    These Scientists think they are smarter than God – they will learn they are wrong.

  34. Hugo

    Well, Phil. According to your post the world’s already ended for me.

    Feels about the same, really. It’s maybe a bit more yellow than it was before, but that’s about it.

    Wonder what’s on TV?

  35. something will happensomething happened 14 billion yrs ago out of a dime sized quark on the scale of all things thats not much bigger than a proton and 16 billion protons will amount to more than a hill of beans smahing together like frieght trains at the speed of light less av hairs breadth

  36. StevoR

    10 minutes to doomsday … ?

    (5 pm Adelaide South Oz time – apparently.)

    Prof. Brian Cox was interviewed on Andrew Denton (ABC-TV Australia), this week. Was interesting, funny & great.

    Now I don’t think anything bad will happen – & certainly NOT today as the beam isn’t colliding but, … b-u-ut…

    I am kind of uneasy about this LHC-CERN business. :-(

    It does seem no-one knows exactly what will happen. Things can go wrong thatare totally unforeseen.

    I do have some ethical concerns about there being even the remotest possible chance that disaster will (eventually) result from the LHC when it does start colliding.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable for people to be a little worried about this and scientists have proven wrong before. Splitting theatopm has ahgd some pretty worrying implications and overall a fairly negative impact onour world. Nuclear Holocaust threat anyone? Could something like that -eventually not immediately – result from the LHC?

    Don’t get me wrong I like Brian Cox but I don’t know that he – or the others involved – have taken the ethical questions over what they’re doing seriously enough. I agree with a lot of what he & Dr Phil Plait here say -but I can also see the other side of things too.

    All things considered, I’d rather the LHC wasn’t used and we stuck to observing the cosmos without trying to experiment on it at such a fundamental level.

    Or if we really must experiment on it Ithink such experimenst should be done a bit further away – I suggest on a distant asteroid or even out in the Kuiper belt.

    Not that I think things will go catastrophically KAA-BLAAAAM!
    I just don’t like the 5 % or even 0.05% change that the might

    (I can’t help recalling the mushroom cloud consequences of splitting the atom & scaling that up a few orders of magnitude for splitting the “God particle” .. :-( )

    Plus building & conducting such experiments wa-aay out on say, Ceres or Pluto would, if nothing else, be great for getting us out exploring to the asteroids or even Pluto! 😉

  37. something will happensomething happened 14 billion yrs ago out of a dime sized quark or quazar which ever comes first. on the scale of all things thats not much bigger than a proton and 16 billion protons will amount to more than a hill of beans smahing together like frieght trains at the speed of light less av hairs breadth

  38. Unfortunately, I’m unable to connect to the livestream of the day T_T

    I’m really curious on what happened… Anyone seems to know at this time?

  39. PG

    Hold your horses.. 03:30 EDT is still about 20 minutes away…

  40. Hmm? Not 03:00?

    If you’re on livestream, pls do update us >_<

  41. War'o'th'worlds

    Is anyone else hearing these reports on their radio news servers? :

    “Despite admitting they didn’t know for sure what would happen, scientists have turned on the CERN Large Hadron Collider supercollider. It now appears that we know whathappens wehen partciles areslammed togetherat such high energies. Tragically, all of Switzerland and a third of the surrounding nations have vanished in the most gargantuan explosion in human history.

    A satellite recorded the huge flash of white light from the blast –centred at CERN – and the subsequent erruption of material – vapour, gas, dust and rock fragments – far into space and back down to Earth.

    While reports are slow coming in, itis belived thepslittingof theHiggs boson has created an event far worse than the splitting of the atom killing all people there and dooming who knows how many more …

    Stay tuned for more on this developing disaster.

    Oh the Humanity!”
    Reported by Hershelle Giselle Wells, from Hershell Common, New York.

  42. Mark

    @X and the sky turning orange: It’s called “early morning”. Deal with it 😉

  43. Daniel

    Stephen Hawking has bet $100 that the God particle wont be found (Yahoo news Tue Sep 9).

    Now wouldn’t that suck?

    In a way I hope we discover wormholes and micro black holes that eat the earth. Maybe it will transport us to a new solar system…what with all this man made space debris flying around, and such an inefficient star that cant go (or look) green.

  44. Ad Hominid


    Well ok, half hour. We have about 16 minutes. Say your prayers, luddites.

  45. I was listening to Paul Davies last night and he gave the simplest explanation of why a micro black hole won’t destroy the earth. Basically he said it would be like jumping up and not coming down. Sweet. Essentially the blackhole disappears in a burst of Hawking radiation and you can’t have one (the blackhole) without the other (disappearing in a puff of “smoke”).

    All that being said I might put some pants on. TMI?

  46. Nothing is going to happen today. They’re only turning on the oven. The cake doesn’t get burnt until you put it in the oven.

  47. Click my name for CERNs live webcast. It is pretty busy though.

  48. So there is no need for particle-ular conCERN…!

    YES!!! finally got to use this joke!

  49. Jon

    MSNBC has a stream up. Link is my name as well.

  50. Thanks, I’ve been there since more than an hour ago, and I’m unable to connect through despite continuous effort. T_T

    It’ll begin in a few mins time, and if you’re connected, do update us about it… For us, who can’t connect through, will be really grateful >_< b

  51. Richard

    So there is absolutely nothing to worry about? I remember being worried about that comet too.

  52. «bønez_brigade»

    I haven’t been able to connect to the webcast. MSNBC & Faux News have breaking news banners about it, but Faux’s story incorrectly claims that collisions will occur…

  53. «bønez_brigade»

    Then again, that paragraph on Faux News could be read to mean that the collisions will occur in the future. It could read either way, actually.

  54. «bønez_brigade»

    From CBS news:
    ‘History’s Biggest Physics Experiment Explores Birth Of The Universe, “Dark Matter,” Seeks The “God Particle”‘

    WTF, _god_ particle?

  55. DoctorOHM

    Well, it’s 9.45 cet, and the webcast is overloaded so i can’t watch it. have been trying since nine. Anyone been lucky? Can you leave some room for me?

  56. Daniel

    higgs boson is the “god-particle”

  57. MSNBC has a live feed.

  58. «bønez_brigade»

    Nevermind; mass media and their common terms…

  59. Hans

    7 billion dollars of public money later – some moron forgot to book enough bandwidth. Pathetic.

  60. Jake
  61. Jake

    The beam has been inserted and is on the 5th checkpoint

  62. “God particle” is a stupid name coined by Leon Lederman, who wanted a catchy phrase and didn’t know what he was getting into. He was actually trying to echo the Tower of Babel story: in that myth, God makes people speak different languages, while the Higgs boson (among other things) makes force-carrying particles distinct from one another (“electroweak symmetry breaking”, as it’s called).

    “Babel particle” would have been both cooler-sounding and more informative.

    Word from the US/LHC blog is that they’re sending the beam around sector-by-sector, and it’s now reached the CMS detector.

  63. Thomas

    I think I saw a small black hole on my screen!

    It was rectangular and it kept saying “Connecting to media…”. Man, I got totally sucked in to it tonight!

    I’m going to bed now, and when I’m still alive tomorrow, I’ll just watch the replay. Go science!

  64. Are we dead yet?

    Also heard that the higgs boson was referred to as the “god damned” particle. As in “where is that god damned particle”.

  65. Ad Hominid

    Hmmmm. We seem to still be here. Take that, ignorant luddites!

    Oh, wait. I see a strange purplish light in the northeast. It does right through my eyelids. The floor is starting to rumble under my feet……

    Could we have been wrong abou

  66. Finally heard some news. To paraphrase… someone counting down – 3… 2… 1… nothing… and it’s on… *clapping*.

  67. This is how the world ends, not with a bang but with polite applause.

  68. Hugo


    We knew what we were doing when we split the atom. It wasn’t some, ‘Hey, what happens when I do THIS?!’ experiment. Politicians/militaries on both sides were more responsible for Hiroshima/Nagasaki than any scientist could be.

    The Large Hadron Collider cannot cause a nuclear holocaust. Nor can it create black holes, or qwark nuggets, or anything else.

    Scientists aren’t as dumb as those people worried about the LHC destroying the world.

  69. Gryfin210

    Well, apparently I’ve got bad news for you all:


    It would seem that the Earth HAS been destroyed. Huh. Go figure…

  70. StevoR

    Brian Cox wrote in a letter posted on the other (“Cox calls ’em as he sees them”) thread here :

    “It is also true that if anyone, including myself, had any doubt about the safety of what we are doing, we would stop immediately.”

    Well then Prof. Cox you’d better stop immediately please.

    As I’ve noted earlier and as I’m sure you’ve heard a hell of a lot of other people have strong doubts over the safety of what the LHC experiment.

    I’m “anyone” & so the many, many other people who are worried about the LHC.
    We may not be particle / nuclear physicists but we are all people and anybodies or rather somebodies all the same! 😉

    Quite seriously Professor Cox & other LHC-advocates a lot of people are really concerned about this. I don’t think insulting them or patronising them with dismissive remarks is going to reassure them. Nor will a self-interested study that comes from the very proponents and people in charge of running the LHC either.

    I strongly urge you to wait before doing any serious particle colliding and have a proper fully independent ethical review – with opponents and concerned citizens as well as just LHC proponents given an equal say and preferably why not shift the LHC to somewhere else -like the Lunar surface or an asteroid instead?

    Yes, that’ll mean waiting for many more years – but better that than finding out tragically and catastrophically that “Oops!” – you were wrong about how safe you think it is.

    Science does have form in being wrong about the safety of things – nuclear fission reactors, thalidomide and DDT being just three examples.

    Besides, c’mon, how cool and awesome would it be to build the LHC on an asteroid or even Pluto or Eris anyhow! 😉

  71. «bønez_brigade»

    BTW, check the current google logo/image.

  72. Daniel

    Lets stick it on the moon with a couple of nuclear power plants to help those magnets out. The fireworks display would be like none other in the universe 😉

  73. StevoR

    Hugo said :

    “The Large Hadron Collider cannot cause a nuclear holocaust. Nor can it create black holes, or qwark nuggets, or anything else.

    It can’t? Really? Well, Brian Cox is going to be very disappointed then because that’s what he sounded very excited about whenhe wasinterviewwed earlier! (The prospect of making black holes – of the miniature variety – in the LHC anyhow! Not sure how ecxcited he was about possible nuclear holocausts! 😉

    Anyway, I hope you’re right.

    I don’t really know that you are – although that’s probable it ain’t certain and the stakes are too high to risk it, IMHO.

    I don’t think even the scientists involved really know what it will produce – they’ve pretty much told us all so.

    Therefore I don’t think, quite honestly, they can rule anything out. Including the worst case, lowest probability Earth-destroying scenarios.

    Yes, okay, our atmosphere is bombarded with such high-energy particles all the time but these particles wertecreated and are coming, I understand, from a very, very, v- e-e-r-y long way off. From Active Galactic Nuclei and quasras and suchlike objects. Observing them is one thing, studying them is one thing, creating them here is another thing entirely. Quasars are fascinating, marvellous places – but I wouldn’t one (or be able!) to live on one! So let’s NOT turn our planet into a Quasar or even take the slightest chance of risking that – okay? 😉

  74. My previous comment to this effect is stuck in moderation, and Phil is unaccountably asleep. Therefore, let me just briefly note that as of 10:23 Geneva time, the beam made its full circuit.

  75. StevoR

    Aargh! Typos!

    I swear they weren’t in there when I went to send the post .. :-(
    Please, BA, please can we get some editing capability here? SIGH.

    Daniel suggested :

    “@StevoR : Lets stick it on the moon with a couple of nuclear power plants to help those magnets out. The fireworks display would be like none other in the universe!”

    Sounds good to me! 😉

  76. Mark

    And from the entirely fictional list of “10 most expensive moments in history” stems this timeless quote: “Waitaminute, NOW you tell me the GREEN wires are supposed to go to THIS switchboard? Uh, guys …” 😉

    (Sorry, can’t help it. Every time I see the nightmare of wiring that is the LHC, this scene plays out in my mind…)

  77. Joker

    Hope no-one there has got confused between using metric and imperial measurements or switches upside down this time .. 😉

  78. H.C.

    Phil, I was pretty confident there was nothing wrong with the LHC until posts like this one from you were starting to appear. (1) that the LHC is not colliding now is no argument, please don’t consider others as stupid (2) that the universe hasn’t ended before is no argument, please read the memoirs of Chamberlain for an explanation of this fallacy (3) Stephen Hawking says “”If the LHC were to produce little black holes, I don’t think there’s any doubt I would get a Nobel prize, if they showed the properties I predict. However, I think the probability that the LHC has enough energy to create black holes, is less than 1%, so I’m not holding my breath.” , (BBC news yesterday) so for black holes the jury is still out (4) the argument “Collisions at these and greater energies occur millions of times a day in the Earth’s atmosphere, and nothing terrible happens.” is considered invalid by scientist working at the CERN as the resulting particles aren’t gravitationally bound (the argument is not needed – luckily, read the CERN papers).
    It’s not that I have reasons to think that something will happen, it’s that everybody who wants to convince others that nothing will happen is using bad arguments. Please do a better job next time.

  79. Joker

    Blake Stacey said :
    “God particle” is a stupid name coined by Leon Lederman, who wanted a catchy phrase and didn’t know what he was getting into. … SNIP ..
    “Babel particle” would have been both cooler-sounding and more informative.”

    But not as good as an actual Babel fish! 😉

  80. UK Dave

    OK so I’m typing this at 10.00 am GMT the LHC has been turned on and has probably been running since 8.31 am GMT…

    Having been to CERN back in 1996 back when they just had the Linear Accelerator and a couple of Cyclotrons and a huge tunnel being dug. The Scientists they started telling us about the science (ok ME if you can read this SCIENCE and Scientists are spelt with an S!!!!) involved, what’s gonna be looked for, searched for and experimented on. I have to say it was pretty fricking interesting even then when I knew next to nothing about particle physics, to be fair I still don’t know or understand a lot about it but I understand enough to be respectful of what they’re doing, excited by the discoveries they’ve already made in both building the biggest (most expensive) scalextrix set set in the world and soon the discoveries and revelations that will be made.

    In any event they’ve run the protons in one direction today I’m still sat here typing there’s work to be done. In October when they start running slow collisions I’ll still be sat here typing away the world won’t end but I can’t help but think that somewhere deep under the border of France and Switzerland a bunch of scientists are gonna get super powers and form the first superheroes call themselves the Fantastic Black Holers or the Dark Matter X team…

    Ho hum

  81. Joker

    Well its after time & the universe still seems to be here …

    Hang on, why are there suddenly millions of parallel copies of me?

    Why do I now have two heads ..? No, make that, three heads! Oh wait, the world is spinning the structure of spacetime is breaking apart!

    AHHHHH!!!!!! NOOOO-OOOOO!!!!

    The skys falling! The worlds ending! The rooms spinning!

    Do’h! Hang on a tick that’s just me! 😉
    Sorry y’all, too much pre-end-of-the-world drinking … 😀

  82. madge

    I just watched the Big Switch on via BBC News and it was AWESOME!(and YES we are all still here) CONGRATULATIONS to every last Scientist and Engineer involved in this COOLEST and most MASSIVE experiment. It is costing the UK tax-payer 50p per year and with 40 different counties taking part it is one of the greatest examples of global co-operation. It will teach us SO MUCH and there are REAL prospects of HUGE advances in medicine and energy production, just as a side line. Once they start colliding protons at full power in a few months time the work REALLY begins and nothing in science will ever be the same after that. It really IS this generation’s Moon Landing. We carbon molecules can do some pretty neat stuff when we put our minds to it.

  83. StrangeWill

    I’m thrilled about LHC, can’t wait till they start smacking things together, I really want to know what data and theories we get from it, as I understand it there is _A LOT_ to be learned from this.

  84. It’s about time they started reporting these particle energies in ergs. Don’t call me, though, until you have Joules.

  85. Kimpatsu

    A group of us are about to get together with beer and chips’n’dips to celebrate this momentous occasion, while we await the end of the world… errr… have great fun in the name of science.
    And I’ll be raising a glass to you, a glass to Brain Cox, a glass to the LHC itself…
    I guess I’m gonna have a hangover come the morning (and, yes, there will be a morning…)

  86. Anyone happen to notice the Google logo commemorating the “switch-on”? Very cool!

  87. Hayden

    well its been quite interesting reading all of these comments..

    im in new zealand so i have no idea when they started spinning protons ONE WAY around LHC..

    but it doesnt bother me weather the world ends when the real experiment happens..

    could be fun..

    i might print out a list of things to do if the world is about to end..

    im sure google will do me the treat like all those other times


  88. God particle? I’ve heard it said the name fits because “it’s the reason we have Mass”. Must have been a non-canonical joke.

    Oh, and no signs of the end from here, except that… giant flaming ball of fire in the sky…

    Wait, it’s the sun.

    Grr; I hope the Finnish winter would sweep in already. I miss the cold and dark.

  89. So now we’re going to get a whole bunch of posts telling us how lucky were this time and it may not have ended the world this time but because of our hubris sometime next year a whole bunch of babies will be born without arms. Sigh… we can’t win can we?

  90. As expected, bunch of crackpots screams their idiocy into air. This “Me” guy is especially nice. :)

  91. For all those that still have concerns about the LHC what are we going to do about the cosmic rays that are bombarding us constantly? Higher energy than the LHC too. Tin-foil hats?

  92. StevoR

    Correction – & addition :

    Not that I think things will go catastrophically KAA-BLAAAAM!

    (… & sure enough they haven’t! Mind you, they’ve yet to do any actual particle colliding if I believe what I read here & not what was in the TV news … which said they did collide atoms – but of course they didn’t. Ah the ever (un)trusty news media.)

    I just don’t like the 5 % or even 0.05% chance that they might.

    See that’s what gets me. I think the experimental particle physicists are probably right, the LHC is most likely not going to do anything bad.

    But even still, the ethics of doing something with a small chance of destroying effectively everything and being, well I hate to say it but yeah at least a bit arrogant, in their approach to criticism and concern
    from the public – now that does bother me.

  93. shane:

    There’s no need to feel panic because of LHC!

    It has been determined that when you wear a simple double-layer tinfoil suit, you’ll be as protected from harmful cosmic rays in a post-LHC world as you were without in the peaceful, pristine pre-LHC universe.

    (This message is sponsored in the name of public safety by Central Tinfoil, “Foiled again!”, of Jackdaw, Illinois.)

  94. *

    Isn’t it possible that God did this very same experiment 13 billion years ago?

  95. George Kopeliadis

    In Greece the “End of the World” rumors about LHC were taken with humor by Mass Media (as far as I watched). Only scientists were presented. That’s a good sign …

  96. PaulW

    I’m still alive? Darn! Now I have to go to work… 😉

  97. RobD

    Don’t know if anyone saw it, but The Big Picture blog did cover the LHC back in early August: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/the_large_hadron_collider.html

  98. BoozeHound

    Kimpatsu Said : … I guess I’m gonna have a hangover come the morning (and, yes, there will be a morning…)

    Simple answer to that problem : Keep drinking & stay drunk! 😀

    Works for me .. 😉

  99. BoozeHound

    PaulW Said : “I’m still alive? Darn! Now I have to go to work… ”

    Not if stay drunk … Or call in sick (hungover!) :-)

    Hey, you’ve got a good excuse – “Yo boss we thought the world was’nt going to be around today so …” 😉

    Hmm .. Brings awhole new meaning to :

    Going to work? Its not the end of the world. Duzzenit! 😉

  100. Bjoern


    I understand your concerns. But you neglect to consider that all those scientists working on the LHC would be risking their own lifes (and those of their families), too, if there *really* was any danger involved in the collisions. Your claim that the safety study is “self-interested” and the insinuation that it therefore is not reliable becomes a bit strange if you think about it this way… don’t you think?

    Your suggestion that we should “have a proper fully independent ethical review – with opponents and concerned citizens as well as just LHC proponents given an equal say” sounds nice at first sight. But you neglect to consider that essentially all “concerned citizens” and also most of the opponents are simply not qualified to judge the safety of the LHC. They are missing a lot of knowledge about the underlying physics! (And, frankly, some of the things which the opponents write look rather crackpotty (is this a word?) to me…) Do you suggest that a bunch of “concerned citizens” sit down for a few months (or, more realistically, years) and learn all of the required physics? Good luck in finding people willing to do that – I predict that most “concerned citizens” will have the attitude that they already know what is necessary to know and won’t be bothered to learn.

    Addressing the concerns directly: yes, there is a (tiny) probability that black holes are produced. But the exact same math which says that these could be produced says *also* that they will evaporate almost instantly! If you say “but maybe they won’t evaporate, Hawking radiation hasn’t been tested so far”, then you also have to acknowledge that they can’t be produced in the first place!

    Many of the things you (and others here) say in the end amount to “scientists can’t say exactly what will happen, hence anything can happen” – which is just plain wrong. You can find many discussions of the argument “science does not know everything, hence it knows nothing” on the internet – but even thinking about this so-called argument for yourself for some time should show you that it’s nonsense.

  101. madge

    @ Michael Lonergan
    Can the LHC make toast soldiers do ya think? I bet it would overcook the egg. Basic science….you cant dip toast soldiers in a hard boiled eggy!

  102. If the Earth won’t be destroyed, then how come the Earth-Destruction Alert Level is red and the Current Geocide Count is at “1”? 😛

    The International Earth Destruction Advisory Board: http://qntm.org/?board

  103. Dave W

    I’m having to debunk the “end of the world” thing on an hourly basis this week. Six science classes a day and every one has had kids debating about the how long they have left…

    …so every lesson plenary has been “this is what is going to happen…the world will not end this week”.

  104. Grand Lunar

    I figured a funny guy (or gal) was at work with this “Me” person typing in all caps. Such people tend to look the most silly after their claims are refuted by actual events.

    Wasn’t there an accelerator prior to the LHC? Did people fear that too?

    I know people feared when Galileo and Cassini were launched; fearing the release of the plutonium in case of disaster. I wonder what the doomsayers felt afterwards.

    Wasn’t there fear when the first atomic tests were done? Aside from fallout, that is. I recall a clip of Admiral Bandy speaking about the tests at Bikini Atoll in “Trinity and Beyond”, where he assures that the bomb will not destroy gravity, convery the ocean to gas, ect.

    The fears over the LHC seem to be our latest manifestation of the fear of the unknown.

  105. Michael Campbell

    > I am just curious as to how many cosmic rays hit the earth every second?

    At least 6.

  106. RL

    Wow, no one posting on this site has watched enough sci fi movies or X-files movies or Dr Who. Everyone knows that the troubles always start after the scientists have popped the champaigne corks and then gone home for the night. Sometimes the nay sayers have to stand around with egg on their face…until….

    Its interesting to see the news coverage. Personally, I think the LHC gets called the Big Bang Machine too much but I guess that gets people to read the news article. My guess is that it will be years before we hear about any results of any new significance.

  107. RL

    How do you insert smiley faces? I wanted to insert one in my last post but I don’t know how.

  108. Jim


    If the LHC does happen to uncover some hereforto unknown wonky physics and does destroy the earth, I’m fully convinced that you’ll find out about it one morning when you discover a greyish glass bowl with the words, “So long, and thanks…” engraved on it next to your toothbrush.

    – Jim

  109. The world is not interesting enough to end.

  110. John Phillips, FCD

    YAY, the beam has made it round both ways. They have already done double
    what they planned for today.

    @RL a smiley is just a colon : followed immediately by right bracket ) :)

  111. riki

    Funny watching the Channel 9 News tonight, they WEREN’T asking “will it destroy earth” but rather “will it destroy the universe”.

  112. John Phillips, FCD

    @riki: well, AIUI, if those claiming that the LHC would create strangelets were right, then you would be talking about the end of the universe and not just the earth or the solar system.

  113. Dave

    I’m no mathematician, but doesn’t the fact that the earth wasn’t destroyed in the last few days actually increase the odds that it will be destroyed tomorrow? I mean, since we’re all still here didn’t we all just take another step towards death?

  114. Ole

    Don’t forget to keep the LHC rap in rapid rotation all day:

  115. Scott

    I found something on another site that I thought was pretty amusing:

    The LHC could revolutionize our current scientific understanding. It poses no danger based on sound science – the same science that could be changed dramatically by the results.

  116. Perfect Phil. Thanks!!!

    I am working in CMS. Last week no less than 20 friends have contacted me asking “so you’re going to blow up the earth!!”.

    This is getting really tiresome. Proper scientific explanations bore/confuse people. Handwaving arguments are dismissed. Refering to authority is taken as “naivety”. Refering to common sense, criticised because “you never know”. It is impossible to win, to convince someone who is convinced he/she has seen the truth. So in the end… if everybody wants to panic, let them!!

    I quit, I will simply enjoy this memorable day for human knowledge!!! Everything worked!!!! Even better than the expectations!!! :-)

  117. KC

    I’ve just had a purely scientific concern (no, not about the LHC destroying the planet), but one that gives me a sinking feeling. It’s also one that I haven’t found an answer for, so I’ll break silence and post it here.

    By some theories, two high energy particles whizzing past each other could form a mini black hole, which would evaporate almost immediately in a burst of Hawking Radiation. To reassure the public, particle physicists have pointed out that such collisions should happen all the time from cosmic rays, and we haven’t had a mini black hole stick around long enough to gain enough mass not to evaporate away.

    Here is where the sinking feeling comes in: Since, in theory, cosmic rays should be producing mini black holes, then wouldn’t it have been more cost effective to attempt to build a mini black hole detector rather than the LHC? And yes, while the purpose of the LHC is to do more than to make mini black holes, could it be that because we haven’t observed flashes of Hawking Radiation that cosmic ray collisions aren’t making mini black holes? Could it be we already have an answer for theorists who are anxiously hoping the LHC will make mini black holes?

    Now for the sinking feeling to hit rock bottom: What if the other phenomena the LHC hopes to explore takes place naturally, but on a much smaller scale. What if it turns out that all the funding for the LHC could have been better spent on cheaper but more numerous detectors? What if the greatest physics experiment of all time was never really needed?

    Yeah, I’m filled with all sorts of cheery thoughts today. But besides that, what’s the answer?

  118. Todd W.


    I thought the same thing, then I reread what the BA wrote, i.e., pretty good odds, rather than “improved odds”. Also, based on past observations, e.g., we’ve seen the sun appear to come up in the East every day and set in the West for millenia, now. Odds are pretty good that it will do the same tomorrow. It’s a similar statement.

    I had to chuckle when I read this bit in an article from the UK Telegraph:

    Meanwhile, William Hill celebrated Man’s continued existence. It had taken £119 from punters willing to bet that September 10 2008 would see the end of the world.

    A spokesman said: “Our standard odds are 1,000,000/1, but anyone wanting longer or shorter odds is at liberty to take them. A number of customers took us up; on our offer and have bet that the world will end as a result of the Large Hadron Collider experiment.”

    Now, the best way to bet is to bet that the world won’t end. Why? Because if it does, you won’t be able to collect any winnings anyway from betting that it will end, and if it doesn’t end, well, you only stand to lose by betting the world will end. Ahhh, nutters.

  119. Snoof

    Dave: If you believe that, then you must also believe that if you flip a fair coin five times in a row and get five heads, you’re more likely to get a tails on the sixth flip.

    For the people who don’t understand statistics: This is entirely untrue. Each flip of the fair coin can be considered an independent test – previous tests have no bearing what happens in later tests.

  120. I don’t believe the LHC will destroy the Earth, but there’s one fallacy in your thinking. Your next-to-last paragraph says:

    … it’s science. And science tends to work.

    A more accurate statement would be:

    … it’s science conducted by humans. And humans tend NOT to work. 😉

  121. LTUAE42

    Actually the LCH did destroy the world. But the FSM (blessed be his noodly appendages) put it back together for us. PROVE IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! ^__^

  122. Robbie
  123. You all need to read some crazy lady in my local paper. She was up all night praying that the LHC wouldn’t destroy the earth. I guess her prayers worked….

  124. To be honest, I was looking for a chance not to go to work today, although I knew that this wasn’t a good bet about it, shame on me :S

  125. Todd W.


    They have an online version?

  126. of course the world’s not going to end. everybody knows that won’t happen until 2012 when the Mayan calendar ends.



  127. Bean Counter

    Sure, no boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.

    -S. Ivanova, Cmdr, B5

  128. MikeInLondon

    There is a specially commissioned radio play of Torchwood set at CERN available at
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/bigbang/torchwood.shtml to mark todays events.

    There is the usual caveat that it may not be available outside the UK. If so expect it to pop up in the usual places.

  129. AWESOME!!

    Check out today’s Google logo.

  130. Tacman12

    Phil, you might get a kick out of this:

  131. KC, have you seen the size of the LHC detectors? 7000 tonnes, so not really portable. You also say “Could be…”; true but that isn’t the same as “we know”. Repeatability is another thing you can only do with a machine like the LHC. There is also no way in nature to know when particle A is going to hit particle B with X amount of energy and be able to measure the results.

  132. oldamateurastronomer

    ‘What, no Kaboom?!?’

    ‘Drat, that darn rabbit has stolen my Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator!’

    [off in the distance]

    ‘{crunch, crunch, munch}’

    ‘Ain’t I a stinker? He He He’

  133. StevoR said, “Science does have form in being wrong about the safety of things – nuclear fission reactors, thalidomide and DDT being just three examples. ”

    What? What kind of examples are those?

    Thalidomide is safe, as we now know, for men to use for certain ailments as well as women when there is a guarantee they are not pregnant. We knew thalidomide was bad before it was a drug. Science wasn’t wrong about drug safety, the science simply wasn’t done. The chemist who designed the drug failed to take into consideration the nature of the human digestive system, which turned one version of thalidomide into the stereoisomer we already knew was bad. This is a vastly different issue from high energy particle physics.

    Nuclear fission reactors were dangerous in their infancy. After that, properly designed fission reactors proved to be safe. Even Three Mile Island killed and injured exactly 0 people. Containment was successful after everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Chernobyl could have been easily avoided if it weren’t for political bureaucratic nonsense fiddling with the science. Even Glenn Seaborg, who discovered plutonium with Edwin McMillan, went to the Soviet Union as part of his role as chairman of the AEC and mentioned their utter lack of containment measures which could have easily prevented Chernobyl being the disaster it was.

    Finally DDT, once again it was a case of scientists knowing something the bureaucrats didn’t care about. Scientists were already concerned about the nature of DDT as a widespread pesticide as early as its inception. Do you think for one fraction of sliver of a second that organic chemists working with organophosphates and other poisons were blissfully unaware of how hazardous they were? Come on man, give them some credit. Even before radiation’s effects on health was well understood people like Roentgen (discovered xrays) were routinely using lead shields as a precaution.

  134. Radwaste

    Does anyone else note the irony of some guy who just read about the LHC presuming to know more about what it does, or will do than the people who built it?

    Ignorance must be heard. It speaks while knowledge is quietly busy learning more.

  135. Pisces

    never dip your toast. it makes it all soggy.

    Well, since i woke up this morning i have to assume the Earth and Universe still exist. Now if we could move on to colliding particles.

    At one time people said that the speed of sound was the absolute fastest a man could fly…..they were wrong….Chuck is still with us.

    The experts knew better then…i think we can safely trust them now.

  136. RL

    @John Phillips

    Thanks. I learned something new. Now if I can keep things today at +1 (learned new thing – forgotten thing).


  137. Law Mom

    “At one time people said that the speed of sound was the absolute fastest a man could fly…..they were wrong….Chuck is still with us.”

    And in the 19th century, people were afraid that traveling at railroad speeds would cause them to suffocate. I imagine the first guy to ride a horse took some heat, as well.

    Fortunately, there are enough smart, rational, and educated people to keep civilization moving forward, or we’d still be traveling on foot, unaware of anything beyond the surrounding hills.

  138. Phil will no longer have to debate the moon hoax..I’m reading comments left by readers of BBC News, about the LHC being “underground” because it doesn’t actually exist.

    “Why was this ‘built’ underground? Simple, it does not exist. It’s a big con.

    It’s the same reason India/Pakistan allegedly conducted nuclear explosions underground simply because they never happened in the first place. Why? Because nuclear bombs don’t exist and they never have existed. FACT!

    Hollywood and the people behind Hollywood (the rich elite race) came up with the propoganda to fool the ‘Sheople’. They’ll keep taking your money though to fund their lavish lifestyles.”

    I WISH Hollywood and the rich elite gave a crap about the LHC – or any science for that matter. It’s only interesting if it signals “the end of the world”. Ironically, the LHC is looking for the opposite.

  139. Chip

    # Michael Lonergan wrote:
    September 10th, 2008 at 4:01 am
    “Anyone happen to notice the Google logo commemorating the “switch-on”? Very cool!”

    Yes, Google honors the LHC today:

  140. Irishscribe

    See? Nuthin’ happened, we all knew it was perfectly safe, that nothing would happ……

  141. I have followed you for a long time now, and I just want to let you know, that you’re level headed…..ness, as well as you’re ability to crush idiots with words and logic, has kept me reading.

    People feel like they always need to be afraid of something. The fact that people actually believe that a light is going to shine out of the Indian Ocean and a biblical end, will come to earth is silly. People will believe anything.

  142. Josh:

    most Hubble images are kept and ’sat’ on to give the scientists time to analyze the data and publish their work.

    Actually, I recently attended a conference where one of the talks was about the IT side of getting space photos out to the public. The presenter said that the year-long delay between data collection and publication was to give them time to Photoshop out the space aliens.

  143. Zack


  144. Avenger

    For all you people out there that look at this as a big waste of money. I agree. The world isn’t going to end. We may find out what happens when protons collide. But nothing will truly get done. Nothing proved. Just a way to make less errors in ideas in the future. Less room for mistakes but yet no answer. The more knowledge we obtain, the more we find out we don’t understand. This is what will happen with this. Another experiment to show how much we really truly don’t understand. Sorry to be a kill joy but we aren’t going to figure out the big bang or recreate it. They don’t even know what happened if it did. They just believe they do. Mislead to believe many things to disprove a creator. It’ll never work. It can’t be done.

  145. ScottB

    StevoR said:

    [quote]Not that I think things will go catastrophically KAA-BLAAAAM!

    (… & sure enough they haven’t! Mind you, they’ve yet to do any actual particle colliding if I believe what I read here & not what was in the TV news … which said they did collide atoms – but of course they didn’t. Ah the ever (un)trusty news media.)

    I just don’t like the 5 % or even 0.05% chance that they might.

    And yet you’ll get into your car tomorrow and drive to work with supreme confidence despite that fact that the chances of you killing someone, or yourself, while behind the wheel are much, much higher.

  146. Robert Sullivan

    What a bunch of blathering by pseudo-scientist, starting with the author of this post. “Science – it just works”? What is this, a Mac? What about trial and error? Failed hypotheses? Surely you’ve heard of the scientific method, learned in 6th grade? One who states “science works” has forgotten the errors, myths and superstitions of history. Scientists have never made mistakes? Balderdash! Some say modern science has it’s origins from the days of the alchemists – not a very auspicious beginning, eh?

    To correct this, I suggest a reread (yes, surely anyone calling themselves a scientists has read this book) of Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

    the first comment is the funniest “I think I know how the big bang began. It started when scientists decided to build a Large Hadron Collider about 13-14 billi0n years ago to find out what the origin of their Universe was.”

  147. CapitalismKills

    opponents say that if the mbh’s are not evaporated by Hawkin Radiation, they will continue to exist (I do not think that CERN deny that possibility). They say that unlike cosmic rays they could be caught by the earths gravity. Also that the linear growth pattern (of possibly millions of years) predicted by CERN is based on gravitational forces. If a charged particle is sucked into the mbh, forces (and growth) of the mbh will increase exponentially, ending the world much much quicker.

    Any physics book will say, that when dealing with particle physics gravitational forces are very weak compared to electromagnetic. Orders of magnitude weaker and often ignored. It stands to reason that the only real gravitational force is from the planet.

    And apparently there is some mainstream questioning as to the existence of Hawkin Radiation – neither have some of his previous theories worked out. Other stuff that separates this from cosmic rays are that these are apparently “symmetrically generated“ whatever that means. And that there will be a much higher rate of collisions at CERN, than would take place naturally.

    But where would the mbhs generated around the planet go? How do they all escape the earth/moon gravity? and when they do, space is full of charged particles for them to eat, and so surely some would be detected. But maybe there aren’t that many particles compared to those that comprise a planet. Don’t know.

    Much of the doom stuff came from http://www.lhcfacts.org/. Some proponents talk about tin-foil hats. Both Dr. Rainer Plaga, Dr. Otto E. Rössler may be way out of the mainstream, but they are scientists who claim that the the mainstream are not scientifically refuting their theories. They also claim other worried scientists.

    The stakes were never potentially this big for other ‘doomsday’ scenarios. Even igniting the atmosphere from the nuke would not of destoyed the universe – unless space is full of nitrogen, and maybe not even the the planet. A worst-case here wont even give the cockroaches a chance. If it comes to that, they could hardly do worse.

  148. s mark

    Man once tried to reach GOD by building tower of babel but failed. Now he is trying to find GOD particle.Hmmmmmmmm!

  149. KC


    Aside from Shane’s response, I still don’t have an answer. And Shane apparently misunderstood me. Nowhere did I say portable. In fact, I happened to be thinking of neutrino detectors as I wrote the post, and those are large, massive, and deep underground. The question, where mini black holes are concerned, rests on three points:

    1. Is is possible to detect naturally occurring mini black holes?
    2. How does the cost of such equipment compare to the LHC?
    3. Is the theoretical frequency of naturally occurring mini black holes high enough that the number of detectors can be built for less than the cost of the LHC?

    I’m not arguing that it can be. But I will point out again that one of the arguments that the LHC isn’t going to make a black hole that will consume the Earth is that collisions from cosmic rays should form mini black holes all the time, and we’re still here to talk about it. That implies that cosmic rays have enough energy that they could form mini black holes on a somewhat regular basis, and that smells like an opportunity for a dandy experiment.

    That also raises the question of whether Hawking Radiation could show up in other experiments. If it’s not – and if it could be detectable by those experiments – does that mean we already have an answer for some of the theories floating around?

    Now, I’m open to the possibility that the LHC is the most cost effective way of doing this. Yet I admit to a certain attraction to the idea of particle physics on the cheap, running in in major universities all the way down to small junior colleges. The latter may simply be a pipe dream. But I wonder if we’ve used particle accelerators for so long that we’ve convinced ourselves this is the only way to do this sort of science.

    I also wonder if the ship has sailed on this particular thread, and if waiting for an answer would be a bit like waiting for Godot.


    – KC

  150. Todd W.


    I’m not sure about the cost effectiveness of the LHC vs. other means of detecting mini black holes, but I imagine that one of the major benefits of the LHC is that there is a greater amount of control. We can detect the particles when we want, whereas other methods may be a wait and hope we get lucky approach.

    Granted, I’m not a particle physicist (or any other type of physicist), so this is just my guess.

  151. KC

    True, there is that, and that’s where the frequency of natural occurrences of the phenomena comes in. If the probability is low, then the LHC makes sense.

    – KC

  152. Ian

    KC: IANAP, but according to the Wikipedia entry for Hawking radiation: “Under experimentally achievable conditions for gravitational systems this effect [Hawking radiation] is too small to be observed.”

  153. Maybe the Nitrogen in the atmosphere will somehow ignite setting the whole world ablaze. Of wait, that already happened during the Manhattan Project.

  154. CapitalismKills

    Could someone please at least debunk the ‘fact’ that CERN say, well er yes there might be produced some mbh’s, but they will be exterminated by Hawkin Radiation. And even if they’re not, they will not be a prob because they will grow according to a linear law, thus taking a very long time before eating the planet.

    I am getting surprised/worried that the only evidence of safety given by the proponents of this is the cosmic-ray argument, coupled with the fact that all the scientists say its ok. DO CERN really expect these mbh’s to appear? Then what? That they will cease to exist, but that some might stay in existence and grow at a linear rate?

    WTF are CERN not properly debunking these claims?

  155. CapitalismKills

    Talking about evidence from the proponents, the article above is either patronising or purposely stupid.

    Reason 1 is vacuous:
    ‘The world hasn’t ended before, so it won’t end now.’
    Therefore the world will never end.

    Reason 3 is accurate, but hardly reassuring:
    ‘They haven’t started yet.’

    Reason 2 may be the money-load:
    ‘It can’t happen – we’ve been over it’
    the link to why it can’t happen is broken. i’m hoping that there is a good reason why it can’t happen, or rather what it is that can’t happen. Can the mbh’s not be produced in the first place? Or are they not a problem if they are?

  156. Todd W.


    Your criticism of Phil’s first reason is flawed. He does not say “so it won’t end now”. Rather, he says:

    so odds are pretty good it won’t end tonight. Historically, it’s the way to bet.

    Your conclusion that “therefore the world will never end” is a misinterpretation.

    Reason 2, IIRC, is in several parts. This is from memory, so I may get some things wrong. First, the chances of creating a mini black hole or a strangelet is so infinitessimally small that it is as good as zero. Second, the hypothesis that does conclude that a mini black hole could be created also holds that such an MBH would go poof almost immediately. Third, even if an MBH were to stay around for an extended period of time, it would be far too small to actually do anything. Someone in one of the other threads did some calculations to figure out its size.

    This is just my stab at this as I understand it. Phil or someone else may be able to shed a bit more light on it.

  157. Babel

    LHC is nothing but another tower of Babel.

  158. Mk

    I see that “Me” person hasn’t come back then.

    He probably got alcohol poisoning and made his own end.

  159. crystal

    Hi, I believe the only safety promise CERN has made about the LHC not causing mini black holes to cause harm on Earth is that Hawkings theory will make them “disappear” (*cough*). Well… that’s not really good enough for me. Hawking has changed his mind about black holes before apparently.. I think Einstein is a better bet on black holes. Let’s see.. if CERN LHC creates black holes we hare supposed to accept the theory of ONE human being, just one physicist who never won a Nobel Prize for his amazing theory, that we are all safe lols. Well sorry, I agree with the concerns about LHC safety of Prof Otto Rossler, Dr Walter Wagner, Teresa E Tutt, Ph.D, Nuclear Engineering Texas A&M University, Dr. Paul J. Werbos, National Science Foundation, Nuclear physicist and lawyer Walter L. Wagner, James Blodgett, Master’s degree in statistics and leader the Mensa Special Interest Group Global Risk Reduction and many other physicists, including some wish to remain anonymous. There is no rush to do the LHC experiments.. no ones lives are depending on it, except perhaps Hawkings who wants his Nobel Prize so badly lols.. Lets have all the safety concerns addressed properly and with full disclosure before the LHC is allowed to operate. I have a share in this planet like everyone else. We all have a right to say whether this experiment can go ahead or not. CERN does not own Planet Earth and Planet Earth is not CERNS open air laboratory to conduct risky experiments that serve no purpose except to satisfy some untested theories. These types of physicists brought us the Atomic Bomb in the past (they don’t like to remember this I guess)… what next..


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