Update on the LHC: Still No Mini-Black Holes
The new CERN press release has finally come out, with the latest report on the (nearly-go-for-launch) Large Hadron Collider.
No surprises, of course. The major new result is strong evidence that the kind of interaction that (poor arguments suggest) might be dangerous is in fact happening all the time in the Earth’s atmosphere. This result agrees with my assessment in April, that nobody in their philosophically-right mind need worry about mini-black holes destroying the universe.
Was anyone holding out on breathing that sigh of relief? And… *sigh*.
Read the new safety report yourself: here.
Update, 8:21PM. A good friend of mine from Mexico is working on the Alice experiment at CERN. He is periodically reporting on it via his blog, which you can access here (Spanish only).
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I am thankful that a detailed and serious safety report has been created by CERN’s LHC Safety Assessment Group and validated by CERN’s SPC Committee. The summary indicates no danger.
However, CERN’s SPC Committee’s validation report contains a disclaimer of the empirical evidence of safety from micro black holes, which appears to imply… “conceivable danger“:
Quote “this argument relies on properties of cosmic rays and neutrinos that, while highly plausible, do require confirmation” – CERN’s SPC Committee
Unfortunately there are no reasonably irrefutable arguments that I am aware of for the safety of creating micro black holes with velocities too slow to escape Earth.
Three strongly disputed assumptions… Micro Black holes are created or not, decay or not, grow slowly or not. (disputed by PHD’s in Math, Physics and other Theoretical Sciences)
Have you seen this funny music video: “You Prefer Your Collider”
Ha! Thanks for the video jtankers.
You are correct that there are no irrefutable arguments against mini-black holes. But that’s no reason to worry/believe in something. Compare to this example: there is no irrefutable argument against hob-goblins in my closet. But hob-goblins still aren’t part of my world view!
I argue that “mini-black hole apocalypse” is analogous to “hob-goblins in my closet,” and similarly should not be part of our world view. (This argument is made on two lines, depending on how seriously you take string theory — check out this post for details.)
Thanks for the note!
I love the music video Les Horribles Cernetts – Collider” (You Only Love Your Collider) also, very catchy tune!
I am reading the LHC Black Holes: Why I’m Not Holding My Breath article.
Good points, but I have not seen any serious articles predicting “hob-goblins in the closet“, nor any serious safety reports refuting hob-goblins, but I have seen some evidence (collider incidents) that micro black holes might be easier to create than previously theorized.
Though I would also love to learn more about micro black holes from lab experiments, most of us hope you are correct that micro black holes are not easily created, because my assumptions would tend to indicate that “stable and fast growing” is at least plausible if not expected in my minority opinion.
Incredible. Who would have thought such talented musicians would have so much time on their hands. :)
If you believe in micro black holes, then I assume it is because you think current trends in quantum gravity are on the right track. (I simply know of no other reason to believe in such things.) But the most well-established feature every theory of quantum gravity is that there is no such thing as a stable black hole, because of Hawking radiation.
Hawking radiation is the most secure feature of quantum gravity (much better accepted than micro black holes, which would require that certain exotic string theories be correct). And it unquestionably implies that there are no stable black holes. In fact, the smaller the black hole is, the more quickly it evaporates. So if a black hole is created on the tiny, tiny scale that some LHC physicists hope, then it will evaporate in a fraction of a second (long before anything dangerous happens).
So I guess I still don’t understand how “stable and fast growing” micro black holes are plausible, given current theory. But I admire your steadfastness!
Not even an armchair physicist but I do have some questions. CERN stated that collisions on the scale of LHC occur in our atmosphere. Really, are TWO particles traveling near the speed of light colliding in our atmosphere? Or is only one particle traveling at that speed?
And if LHC can accelerate particles to near the speed of light, does that mean if you shoot one particle in one direction at near the speed of light and a second particle at near the speed of light in the other direction, the impact would be like a particle hitting a stationary object at greater than the speed of light? If so, I can’t imagine that happening very often.
Good comments Jim. A number of PHD level theoretical scientists also have questions about LHC Safety.
The most notable is Professor Dr. Otto E. Rossler, most famous for his contributions to Chaos theory.
Dr. Rossler refutes CERN’s safety arguments and proposes that if micro black holes are created (some say the odds are 1 in 1000, others say the odds are 1 in 2) they would grow large enough to threaten Earth in 50 months to 50 years.
Arguments developed within my recently published work “Unusual Perspectives” suggest that while effective extinction of our species within the present century may have a quite high probability, catastrophic destruction of our planet is precluded.
These contentions arise not from theoretical physics but from the clearly demonstrable patterns which emerge from Darwinian evolution and the subsequent evolution of mind and technology, together with the constraints and prerequisites imposed by the nature of the chemical elements.
These patterns strongly suggest the existence of a well-definable “life process”, self-propagating, exponential, chance mediated, but having a directionality imparted by prevailing conditions of its own generation. In short , a kind of teleology. Importantly, I ascribe no “intelligence”, “creator”, prime or final cause to the process. Rather, it is just the way that, looked at objectively, things seem to work.
The not unreasonable extrapolation is made that life will inevitably continue along its dysentropic path and that a life-form, though not our kind, will be be using this planet as its evolutionary vehicle for quite some time yet.
So from this viewpoint, the universe can reasonably be expected to be structured in such a way that imminent gobbling up of planet Earth by a micro black hole is not on the books.
An oblique argument for which I give absolutely no guarantee but I believe to be worthy of consideration.