Back in 2008, a Hawaiian fellow named Walter Wagner claimed the Large Hadron Collider’s hunt for the Higgs boson would end in apocalypse, and sued to stop the collider from going online. His suit was soon dismissed by a federal judge, but with the fate of the world on the line, Wagner kept trying.
Now an appellate judge for the United States District Court in Hawaii has foiled Wagner again by knocking down his appeal, as Symmetry reports. The judge found that Wagner failed to show “credible threat of harm” and also noted that the United States doesn’t control the collider, which spans the border of Switzerland and France:
The European Center for Nuclear Research (“CERN”) proposed and constructed the Collider, albeit with some U.S. government support. The U.S. government enjoys only observer status on the CERN council, and has no control over CERN or its operations. Accordingly, the alleged injury, destruction of the earth, is in no way attributable to the U.S. government’s failure to draft an environmental impact statement.
Set your watches, apocalypse watchers: On Thursday, the Doomsday Clock—that harbinger of untimely death run by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—will change again.
When the organization debuted its clock in 1947 in the wake of the new dangers of the nuclear age, they set it at “7 minutes to midnight.” From there, the scientists have adjusted the metaphorical apocalypse countdown either up or down in response to geopolitics. The furthest we’ve ever been from our collective end is 12 minutes, after the signings of SALT and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 1979 17 minutes, after the end of the Cold War. The closest we’ve gotten is 2 minutes (the namesake of the Iron Maiden song), in response to hydrogen bomb tests.
What now? From Politico:
“The last time the doomsday clock was reset was in 2007, from 7 minutes to five minutes to midnight.
(Director Kennette) Benedict said she would offer no hints about whether the clock would be reset closer or further away from “doomsday” on Thursday. One suspects the group of scientists would be likely to show some appreciation for Barack Obama’s efforts on nonproliferation, climate change, etc. compared to his predecessor.”
This will be the first time you can watch live streaming of the Doomsday clock change, which happens at 10 a.m. EST on Thursday here in New York. I, for one, will not be watching, since we all know the world’s actually going to end in 2012 because of some Central American prophecy.
Discoblog: Earth Doomed By Sun Plasma? Our Bad Astronomy Expert Weighs In
80beats: Cutting-Edge Science Reveals: World Won’t End of Dec. 21, 2012
80beats: Physics Experiment Won’t Destroy Earth
80beats: Comets Not So Likely to Smash Into Earth and Kill Us All
Image: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Last week’s Weird Science Roundup included a NASA-funded report warning if a glob of the sun’s plasma were to escape and enter the earth’s magnetic shield, it could disrupt our entire power grid… and basically cause the end of the world as we know it.
So just how credible is this theory? We asked our own Phil Plait for his thoughts on the matter, which, alarmingly, did not include it being a totally bogus possibility. Here’s what he had to say:
Actually, while they play up the worst cases, what they say is not totally out of bounds. I’m not sure about the number of deaths quoted, but the scenarios are plausible. Our grid is running nearly at capacity, and a huge DC current dumped into them from a geomagnetically induced current could overload a huge number of transformers. The 1989 Quebec event was a taste of how that could happen.
From what I understand, North America is more sensitive to this because of the huge granite slab that composes most of the continental plate; it sets up huge currents underground when the magnetic field of the Earth gets slammed from a CME from the Sun, and that induces current in the gird, and bang.