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The LHC, Black Holes, and the Law

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the nobody-left-to-collect-damages dept.

The Courts 467

KentuckyFC writes "Now that the physicists have had their say over the safety of the Large Hadron Collider, a law professor has produced a comprehensive legal study addressing the legal issue that might arise were a court to deal with a request to halt a multi-billion-dollar particle-physics experiment (abstract). The legal issues make for startling reading. The analysis discusses the problem with expert witnesses, which is that any particle physicists would be afraid for their livelihoods and anybody else afraid for their lives. How can such evidence be relied upon? It examines the well established legal argument that death is not a redressable injury under American tort law, which could imply that the value in any cost-benefit analysis of the future of the Earth after it had been destroyed is zero (there would be nobody to compensate). It asks whether state-of-the-art theoretical physics is really able to say that the LHC is safe given that a scientific theory that seems unassailable in one era may seem naive in the next. But most worrying of all, it points out that the safety analyses so far have all been done by CERN itself. The question left open by the author is what verdict a court might reach."

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We'll save the justice system first.... (4, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665704)

Of course, this is relevant because in the event of an LHC-created black hole destroying the planet, we will of course launch into space a "lifeboat" containing a judge, defense and plaintiff lawyers, Rusty the Bailiff to keep everyone in line, and one token normal person to be the plaintiff. Justice will be served no matter what the damage to the planet is.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (5, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665714)

So even if we blow up the planet we still won't have killed all the lawyers.

Shakespeare called and he doesn't like your scenario.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (1)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665772)

Throw them in a room, lock the doors and let the god particle sort them out.

NIGGERS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665846)

God dammit, just send all of the blacks back to Africa, then we won't have to worry about how nasty their holes are.

If my great-great-grandpappy knew things would turn out this way, he'd have picked his own cotton.

Re:NIGGERS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665906)

lol

Re:NIGGERS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665996)

Would he have also knocked up his own daughters as opposed to the niggers doing that too?

Schrodinger's Attorney? (3, Funny)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665980)

I know there's a joke in there somewhere, I just can't quite figure it out.

Re:Schrodinger's Attorney? (5, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666244)

I know there's a joke in there somewhere, I just can't quite figure it out.

Not Schrodinger's Attorney. Maxwell's DA [wikipedia.org] .

See, when you make humourous reference to Maxwell, the joke and the punchline are effortlessly sorted into the right order. With Schrodinger jokes, on the other hand, you never know whether it's going to be funny or not until you tell it, and by then it's too late.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (-1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666046)

Actually, in the original context [spectacle.org] , that "kill all the lawyers" line is in praise of lawyers, for they are obstacles to a tyrant's plans.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666272)

Actually, in the original context [spectacle.org] , that "kill all the lawyers" line is in praise of lawyers, for they are obstacles to a tyrant's plans.

I think you should reread that page you linked.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (5, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666332)

Actually, in the original context [spectacle.org] , that "kill all the lawyers" line is in praise of lawyers, for they are obstacles to a tyrant's plans.

No it was a praise to tyrant's since they kill lawyers. .

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (3, Interesting)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665848)

Of course, this is relevant because in the event of an LHC-created black hole destroying the planet, we will of course launch into space a "lifeboat" containing a judge, defense and plaintiff lawyers, Rusty the Bailiff to keep everyone in line, and one token normal person to be the plaintiff. Justice will be served no matter what the damage to the planet is.

I seem to recall that some physics thought that before the Trinity Explosion, that perhaps an atom explosion would vaporise the entire atmosphere.

One guy on the site is even ranting about the LHC actually being a "quark cannon", and says that (paraphrasing) "cosmic rays are single atoms" and in the same sentence (because it's a runon, like this one) that we've never observed a quark in cosmic rays. All credibility is lost with that, and that's the problem with even debating this issue... the average person has no real decent understanding of the actual risks involved, but if they know about it, they get all paranoid, and someone breaks out the SciFi.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (2, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665938)

You mean the SyFy

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665856)

How fast will this lifeboat be traveling? If this lifeboat is to be escaping a black hole.. it'd have to be moving pretty fast.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665916)

Fast enough for ya? [unpronounceable.com]

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666016)

Either way, it will be traveling fast.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (3, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666090)

It only has to escape an earth mass black hole, so about 12km/s will do.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666200)

Escaping a black hole is fairly easy because of the photon flux from the accretion disk. You get lots of radiation pressure pushing you away. If the power level drops just drop in a small amount of matter.

Re:We'll save the justice system first.... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666118)

depends on the distance from the black hole and the size of the hole itself. Also it would have to be moving fast relative the the hole as all objects are moving fast relative to some other object.

I don't think this is worth doing. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665710)

Assuming the LHC destroys the world with the LHC itself getting swallowed first and all of Earth going next and eventuallyd swallowing the Solar System, what assets would they have left? You should know better than to sue somebody without assets, particularly when you can't hire a lawyer because all your money is gone, all the lawyers are gone, and for that matter, you're gone too.

Re:I don't think this is worth doing. (4, Informative)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665842)

If it actually occuurred, an LHC black hole wouldnt swallow the solar system. It wouldnt even swallow the moon. It would have the same mass as the earth and would continue to follow roughly the same orbit (not accounting for solar wind and photon momentum).

Re:I don't think this is worth doing. (3, Informative)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666130)

more likely it would have the same mass as an LHC, or rather a particle in the LHC which would almost certainly vaporize before it ran into another particle to swallow given the average density of particles on earth.

Re:I don't think this is worth doing. (1)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665970)

Why do we assume that it takes a device of a size noticeable to authorities or the public in order to create a globally destructive black hole?

Re:I don't think this is worth doing. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666018)

Nonsense! Everyone knows that in the event that the Earth is destroyed, jurisdiction will be handled by the Court Of Final Judgement, the Hon. F.S. Monster presiding. So you'll just have to make your case in front of him. But I should warn you, F.S. frowns upon worldly goods, and if you start talking about lost assets, you'll probably get "burned".

oh well (3, Insightful)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665718)

What's the point of living but to try to understand our universe and find the true answer to life,universe, and everything. Everything else is just fluff.

Re:oh well (3, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665802)

We're past that climax... the answer's 42. Google it.

Are you kidding? (1, Redundant)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665720)

Everyone knows that after the Earth is destroyed and humanity is wiped off the face of the planet, there will still be cockroaches and lawyers around.

Bailiff: All rise! Judge Periplaneta americana Linnaeus now presiding!

Redundant (4, Funny)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666328)

I think that "Redundant" mod refers to your use of "cockroaches" and "lawyers" as separate.

markyg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665736)

You need a considerable amount of mass to create a black hole. Instead what CERN are trying to do is find the graviton, which is simply a super small particle. It will last for a fraction of a nano second, since it won't be stable enough to consume the earth.
All of these lawyer types first have to understand quantum mechanics, general relativity and on top of that M-theory before they can truly wage in on the debate.

What are the chances these guys just want to get their names in the paper?

Re:markyg (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665758)

Don't forget TimeCube.

Re:markyg (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665966)

If you make a tiny black hole you start a race between evaporation and accretion. The black hole may well evaporate before it collects enough mass to be stable, but it is difficult to be completely sure about this. In theory the black hole can start from the mass of an atom and increase in mass to the mass of the Earth (plus us of course).

Re:markyg (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666166)

You are underestimating the waging power of lawyers.

STFU (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665746)

The LHC will not destroy the world.

Re:STFU (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665886)

Seriously, this is the last and only comment that needs to be made on the matter.

Re:STFU (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666084)

If the LHC does turn out to be an "Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator", it will be the last and only comment. You win either way.
Given the European sense of humour, I'm a bit surprised the LHC wasn't called the "Illudium Q-36".

Re:STFU (1, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666330)

The LHC will not destroy the world; and if it does, it'll be over before you knew it started. No worries, either way.

There, fixed that for ya.

What if it just blow up / messed up part of the ea (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665754)

What if it just blow up / messed up part of the earth and not all of it how will the court look at that?

US LAW ? (5, Insightful)

Tensor (102132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665778)

Who cares what the American law says ? Its built by CERN, its in the France-Switzerland border ...

Re:US LAW ? (3, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665854)

I think CERN would be declared an Terrorist Organization and the scientists individually deemed Enemy Combatants.

Re:US LAW ? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665920)

True.

It's an interesting series of arguments, too bad the LHC's name and organization seems to be plugged into the argument to capitalize on the fear and hysteria about something that the LHC will never be able to do.

The LHC is simply not going to be able to make anything that swallows Earth. We know that because countless far more energetic particles hit Earth over a period of billions of years, and yet Earth still exists. The LHC just can't compete against that. The people that think otherwise might as well go watch Plan 9 as if it were a documentary.

Re:US LAW ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665936)

Its built by CERN, its in the France-Switzerland border ...

How's any court going to exercise jurisdiction over a black hole?

Re:US LAW ? (2, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666024)

Whoa there bucko. Sweden is next to France?!

Re:US LAW ? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666082)

Whoa there bucko. Sweden is next to France?!

With a big enough black hole I could "make it so".

Re:US LAW ? (1)

armyofone (594988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666304)

Switzerland != Sweden. Please stop posting while drunk.

Re:US LAW ? (5, Funny)

msimm (580077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666116)

Yes but it's important and THAT makes it American! ;-)

Ugh (5, Insightful)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665784)

It asks whether state-of-the-art theoretical physics is really able to say that the LHC is safe given that a scientific theory that seems unassailable in one era may seem naive in the next.

And yet again, a basic understanding of the fundamental scientific process causes people to say foolish things. "Previous scientific theories were proven wrong, so we shouldn't trust current theories" blah blah blah. Previous scientific theories weren't proven wrong, just incomplete, as has been said thousands upon thousands of time. Under restricted conditions, they are still "right"- in the scientific sense of the word, which is "matches observation to our more precise measurements". OK, so people want to make the, "LHC is an extreme condition and so outside the tested realm of theory." Yeah. No. Not at all. The exact same theory which predicts that black holes could be created predicts that they are also being constantly created in the earth's atmosphere. And the exact same theory predicts that they evaporate via Hawking radiation, etc. You don't get to have it both ways. And this is where people's arguments get really silly: "But, you could be completely wrong!" Yes. I suppose we could. But in that case, we could be wrong in an infinite number of ways. And an earth destroying black hole would require us to be wrong in a very specific way on par with, "Our knowledge of electricity could be wrong and some magical circuit with just the right components will end all of reality as we know it."

Arguing that theoretical physicists would be likely to be biased is, if possible, even dumber than the LHC panic arguments. You don't need a PhD to understand that the whole hysteria is retarded. In fact, suggesting that you do is creating a false dichotomy: either you need to be a particle physicist, or you're just taking their word for it. Seriously, this "analysis" will probably do more harm than good.

Now can we as a society please move on?

Re:Ugh (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665860)

Our knowledge of electricity could be wrong and some magical circuit with just the right components will end all of reality as we know it.

Ah, so you've read Steorn's business document.

Re:Ugh (4, Funny)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665862)

Previous scientific theories weren't proven wrong, just incomplete, as has been said thousands upon thousands of time.

So, care to calculate some epicycles for us?

Re:Ugh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665876)

How eccentric of you.

Re:Ugh (5, Insightful)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665988)

I know you probably meant that as a joke, but the fact is that the epicycle model fit observable data quite nicely. A physical model may be incorrect, but a mathematical model, which is what actually makes testable hypotheses, that fits the data can only ever be incomplete.

Re:Ugh (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666266)

I know you probably meant that as a joke, but the fact is that the epicycle model fit observable data quite nicely. A physical model may be incorrect, but a mathematical model, which is what actually makes testable hypotheses, that fits the data can only ever be incomplete.

That particular mathematical model assumed a geocentric solar system. That's a testable hypothesis. It has failed every test to which it has been subjected.

Part of the problem with science is that the emphasis on mathematics has removed it from its roots in natural philosophy. You can have a wrong model that gives the right answers -- eclipses happen when the model says they will, planets appear in the positions it predicts, etc. Yet it leads to a completely false understanding of the system it models. When that happens, it takes us a while to get over it. Copernicus was persecuted not so much for outright claiming that we have a heliocentric solar system, but for saying that if one assumes the Sun is the center, all of these calculations become far simpler (i.e. Occam's Razor).

Re:Ugh (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666050)

So, care to calculate some epicycles for us?

Sure, just as soon as I can get some Phlogiston [wikipedia.org] to power my N-ray [wikipedia.org] generator.

Re:Ugh (1)

hawkingradiation (1526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665940)

And the arguments that the proponents make towards shutting the experiment down can only be based on Science. Half Science and half superstition or whatever combination since they really don't understand it at all. All this attempt to use language in a creative way to declare whether or not a theory based on numbers, words, observations and symbolic manipulation is crockery at best. I think in order for the the proponents to be successful, they should have to present another theory and maybe build another "experiment" and actually determine for themselves that physically and mathematically we will have huge black holes that will swallow up the planet. But that is what has been already done and they just don't want to listen.

Re:Ugh (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665976)

Now can we as a society please move on?

If, perchance, they actually listened to your argument, I'd say "yes, next let's move on to patenting business models" except I'd be more worried about some equally unlikely shit happening.

Like the Earth being swallowed by a black hole.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666178)

I have no worries about the LHC and believe that the second half of your post, regarding how precisely and subtly current theories would have be wrong, is an excellent point. But as for the suggestion that previous scientific theories were only incomplete, and not wrong, I urge you to read chapter 9 of Thomas Khun's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Preferably after you've read chapters 1-8, but pointing someone to an entire book as a reference is a bit snarky. He demonstrates how accepting Einsteinian physics requires discarding Newtonian physics as wrong, just as how accepting Copernican astronomy requires discarding Ptolemaic astronomy as wrong. This is partly because "right" must mean more, even to science, than simply "matches observations to a given level of measurement" when you are talking about theories of why certain observations obtain. And also because of limitations on what scientists of former paradigms were capable of meaning when they used the same words that we use today in our modern paradigms. In short, what they meant when they used a word like "space" rendered any theory developed in that framework incompatible with frameworks whose definition of "space" was fundamentally different. We can look back and cast their theories in terms of our own paradigm, but that does not mean that the theory they actually developed, and which occupied their living minds, was compatible with our paradigm for "a given level of measurement".

I don't suggest that Khun attacks science - he certainly didn't intend to and was upset that many people thought he had. But if you are truly open-minded and unafraid of the epistemological position of scientific knowledge, then Khun's book offers an excellent overview of the sense in which science "progresses" and the sense in which it does not.

Re:Ugh (1)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666292)

Yeah, I was a little sloppy with my wording. I mentioned this in a reply to another post above, what I meant was the mathematical models, provided they agree with available data, can only be incomplete. The underlying mechanism proposed can definitely be wrong, but ultimately it's the mathematical model that produces predictions. Newtonian physics may be wrong as a physical model, but as a mathematical model we still use it to build our bridges. Thanks for the reference though, I've had Khun on my reading list for a while so I'll definitely start there.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666312)

Arguing that theoretical physicists would be likely to be biased is, if possible, even dumber than the LHC panic arguments.

Personally, I feel the lawyer just might be a tad bit biased,

Going in circles (5, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665786)

The scientific theories that are relied upon to show the LHC is safe may eventually prove to be false, or at least short-sighted. However, these same theories are what led people to consider the possibility of black hole production in the first place. If those theories are taken away, then the reason for concern also disappears.

If we are going to take the prevailing theories to be unreliable, then all that remains is common sense. Someone might raise the concern that a car collision would lead to a devastating black hole, if it happened in exactly the wrong way. There is no reason to take this concern seriously given the number of accidents which the earth has already survived. Similarly, there is no reason to think that the LHC will produce anything more dramatic than the high-energy particle collisions occurring in our atmosphere every day.

Re:Going in circles (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666048)

Someone might raise the concern that a car collision would lead to a devastating black hole

They are what we in the industry call "retarded"

These arguments could be used with AGW too. (2, Insightful)

NtroP (649992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665794)

Seems to me the same arguments could be made for the "expert witnesses" (and if you take the Climate-Change-will-destroy-humanity crowd at their word, the cost-benefit analysis as well) in the AGW debate.

Re:These arguments could be used with AGW too. (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665962)

Who is the Climate-Change-will-destroy-humanity crowd? I haven't heard of anyone saying that climate change will destroy humanity. Climate change could prove disastrous, but disasters happen all the time and don't wipe humanity off the face of the planet.

There's a fundamental problem with this... (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665812)

I'm in the process of reading TFA, but if the summary given is correct there's a serious problem. Suppose I'm a nutjob who claims that some new technologies will destroy the world. Say releasing the new Apple tablet. Or maybe the latest Linux security patch. There's some tiny but non-zero probability that I'm correct. If one takesserious the argument as given " that death is not a redressable injury under American tort law, which could imply that the value in any cost-benefit analysis of the future of the Earth after it had been destroyed is zero" then it should hold regardless of the probability of the risk. Essentially this is an unhealthy variant of Pascal's wager which already has lots of problems. What if, for example, I claim that the world would be destroyed if we don't run the LHC? Again, some tiny but non-zero probability. This sort of argument simply cannot be used without clearly ridiculous results.

Re:There's a fundamental problem with this... (2, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665910)

You misunderstand the meaning of the statement, it has the opposite implication.

Death is not redressable, which means if you do in fact destroy the entire planet the cost of doing so is 0. So you might as well go ahead and take the risk no matter how large.

Re:There's a fundamental problem with this... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666114)

Say you find out on 1 Jan 2011 that the Earth will be swallowed by a brand new black hole on 1 Jan 2111. You spend the next 100 years working to move the human race to Mars and building new infrastructure there to support them. That 100 years of effort has a finite value which could be calculated. That way you know the cost of destroying the Earth.

Sssh! We're ok as long as we don't ask.. (3, Funny)

Exp315 (851386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665836)

We're neither dead nor alive so long as nobody looks into this issue. :-)

Re:Sssh! We're ok as long as we don't ask.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665902)

We're Schrodinger's cat!!! AAAHHHH!!!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665950)

AAAHHHH!

How would anyone else ever had the AAAHHHH moment, if you hadn't explained it to us. We are ever so grateful. Allow me, on behalf of all of Slashdot, to thank you.

ggggyguuuoy yguogpgppppyg8899p8u88i (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665852)

I am falling into a black hole and slashdot is shrinking into an infinitesimal point of suck........ gt67t78oftuuftuvft ftyfgu fiftyg8 8 7798 uoi llll i j l lk k k.l k;l;uyyg 65 6r7f t8gfyf y pehis pehis pehis pehis e45e45 4e446466664464c46v64v6v46 f7t

Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30665864)

It had to be an American lawyer. Its a good thing the idiots in this country can't do much about it. There are idiots everywhere but why do OURS have to be so meddlesome? Before the first atomic weapons were used some scientists thought that the explosion would consume the entire atmosphere all around the world. One of the things that guy sites as an example of scientists failing to assess the outcome of an experiment is the bomb that was 15 megatons instead of 5. He claims miscalculations caused it? Yes miscalculations in the sense that they were pretty much guessing like our scientists are doing to some extent. This is why they weren't just like, "aight guys, lets put ALL the plutonium in there...the bigger the better right...?"

Read the disclaimer (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665878)

IN NO EVENT WILL THE LHC BE LIABLE TO ANY THIRD PARTY FOR ANY SPECIAL, COLLATERAL, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, PUNITIVE, OR ENHANCED DAMAGES ("EXCLUDED DAMAGES"). EXCLUDED DAMAGES INCLUDE COSTS OF INSPECTION, REMOVAL, AND REPLACEMENT COSTS, REPROCUREMENT COSTS (INCLUDING MAGRATHEA'S ADMINISTRATIVE AND PERSONNEL COSTS) OF REPLACEMENT OR SUBSTITUTE PLANETS, LOSS OF GOODWILL, LOSS OF REVENUE OR PROFITS, AND LOSS OF USE, WITHOUT REGARD TO WHETHER LHC HAS BEEN NOTIFIED IN ADVANCE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF ANY SUCH CLAIM OR DAMAGE.

Blah blah blah, there's too much YELLING in this post. Here's some junk for the filter: This Agreement will be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the parties and their respective permitted successors and assigns. Buyer may not assign this Agreement in any respect without the prior written consent of Seller. Seller may assign this Agreement, in whole or in part, or any of its rights or obligations hereunder without notice to or consent by Buyer. Seller may subcontract manufacturing or other work as to any or all Products without notice to or consent of Buyer. The failure of a party to enforce any right hereunder shall not waive that or any other right. If any provision of any Order Document is held to be illegal, invalid or unenforceable, then (i) such provision will be reformed to cure or remove such defect and if not reformed will be severed, (ii) the legality, validity and enforceability of the remaining provisions will not be affected or impaired, and (iii) the parties will endeavor in good faith to replace the severed provisions with valid provisions of the same or similar economic effect. The invalidity of a provision in a particular jurisdiction will not render unenforceable such provision in any other jurisdiction. No amendment or modification to the Order Documents will be effective unless specifically agreed in a writing signed by Seller

Re:Read the disclaimer (3, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665898)

If we don't agree to the shrinkwrap terms, can we take the LHC back to the point of purchase for a full refund?

Re:Read the disclaimer (1)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666136)

Yes, but to get in the door, you have to have TEA and NO TEA at the same time.

Re:Read the disclaimer (1)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666224)

Sorry but those magnets clearly weren't used in a normal fashion, warranty void!

Re:Read the disclaimer (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665974)

As long as Magrathea has a backup I say we go for it.

I believe CERN should just respond back to such (1)

ancient_kings (1000970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665880)

lawyer dribble with an American generals famous quote, "I am not an atomic playboy." End of story.

In a way I blame certain scientists (3, Interesting)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665888)

I mean they make it sound like when something turns into a black hole it gains "More gravity" and sucks everything around into it which is utterly not true. (If a stellar mass BH went through our solar system the most likely thing it would do to the Earth is distort it's orbit and or move the Sun.) I mean we're talking about creating black holes so small they could literally go straight through a proton and miss all the quarks inside, sucking up nothing. Hey that reminds me, electrons and quarks don't have a size, they're singularities.(Kind of like the things they want to make in the LHC.) However they've never been observed to act like a BH even though you'd think they would. So that makes me think even if they made a singularity that small it wouldn't act like a BH either.

Re:In a way I blame certain scientists (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666014)

I've never heard any physicist say such an absurd thing. Perhaps you are confusing them with creators of popular "science" fiction?

Re:In a way I blame certain scientists (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666064)

Really? Funny I think I've heard Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about what would happen if a BH went through our solar system. (He made it sound like it would actually suck up the Earth.) I don't remember any thing about the most likely scenario, it would pass through and disturb the orbits of the planets but most likely actually never get close enough to suck up any planet at all. (At least for a stellar mass BH that would be the most likely scenario.)

Re:In a way I blame certain scientists (2, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666184)

Hey that reminds me, electrons and quarks don't have a size, they're singularities.

I thought strings have replaced the point singularities. Granted were talking the Planck distance here, but still not a dimensionless point.

Interesting and sobering. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665912)

I think the take home lesson is thus: Scientists need to rise above the rabble and babble of human peccadilloes and attempt to be more humble, less confrontational ("Anyone who thinks the LHC is dangerous is a twat") and more rational. The LHC is a good object lesson in this regard. Climate change is another. As a species we are to the point where we can significantly damage the earth and there is no class of human being that is even remotely capable of dealing with these issues. Science, as a body, needs to have it's practitioners step back and avoid the logical fallacies allowed politicians, lawyers, TV pundits and other wingnuts.

Of course, 'Science' isn't going to be able to do this very well because it's composed of irrational, emotional, childish, stressed and fallible humans. But we need to try as best we can. Either that or beam down Mr. Spock.

Re:Interesting and sobering. (3, Informative)

adonoman (624929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666092)

There's plenty of scientists who can discuss these topics rationally and humbly, they just make for really boring television. Nobody wants to listen to details or actually learn the theories and math behind the headlines, we just want a fight.

Re:Interesting and sobering. (4, Funny)

neiras (723124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666296)

There's plenty of scientists who can discuss these topics rationally and humbly, they just make for really boring television.

The LHC webcams [cyriak.co.uk] , on the other hand, make for really panic-inducing television.

Re:Interesting and sobering. (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666110)

Yes.... science could be nicer about it. But from a scientific point of view, why should they be? Billions weren't spent on this thing like they were on, say, nonsense political wars. A great many learned individuals who have studied the physics in question for, you know, their entire adult lives are cool with this experiment - it's the next natural step to figure out how the universe works. If they skipped a step, let's point it out... but otherwise, enough is enough already.

You're more likely to die slipping in the shower tomorrow morning than from the LHC.

"Oh, the math can't prove it?" math can't *prove* anything but math - math is not physics. Math is a tool, and a study that is purely logical and abstract and lives by itself. No math is going to *prove* smashing large hadrons together at incredibly high energies is safe - the only thing that will prove that is smashing lots of them together in a controlled, observed environment. Which is what we are doing.

Re:Interesting and sobering. (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666162)

As a species, we have already significantly 'damaged' the earth. The 'earth' isn't the issue, the habitability of the planet by people is the issue. We have damaged that more.
The earth doesn't matter, other than as it applies to us (inhabitants, not people from the USA). Unfortunately, we still can't tell if we will all die because we collapsed the plankton, polluted the air, depleted the climate buffers, or whatever our next clever trick is.

Common sense required; hopeless... (4, Informative)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665984)

The argument for safety is very simple, and it doesn't require a physicist to make it. Sadly, it does require common sense, which is likely to be absent in this case.

Anyway, here it is: the Earth has been--and continues to be--bombarded by cosmic rays of immensely greater energies than found in the LHC. After billions of years without incident, one can only conclude that any problems must not be very significant, as we are here after all.

We aren't off the hook though; even if the LHC may not be capable of destroying the Earth, the lawyers are certainly doing a fine job.

Re:Common sense required; hopeless... (-1, Flamebait)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666070)

the Earth has been--and continues to be--bombarded by cosmic rays of immensely greater energies than found in the LHC.

But those cosmic rays have high velocity and kinetic energy. A cosmic ray (so to speak) created at rest in France would have different properties. It may be trapped in orbit around the Earth. Maybe the greater energy of cosmic rays from space makes them safer for us.

Re:Common sense required; hopeless... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666128)

A 'cosmic ray' created by the smashing of two particles together at 99.9999991% the speed of light is hardly going to be created 'at rest'.

Re:Common sense required; hopeless... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666204)

Actually, their energies (and velocities) are on a whole range that includes the velocities we are talking about achieving in the LHC. See the picture in this article [wikipedia.org] and note that the energies of LHC particles are on the order of 10^12 ev; that is, well within the middle of the range. Furthermore, the energy of a proton depends solely on its velocity; there is nothing else to talk about when it comes to protons. A proton from space is the same as a proton in the LHC.

Re:Common sense required; hopeless... (1, Insightful)

MechaStreisand (585905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666254)

Thank you for showing that you are one of the twats.

Re:Common sense required; hopeless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666310)

The earth will implode and you don't have a towel ready.

so long, and thanks for all the fish..

No (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30665986)

Is the LHC dangerous. Quite possibly. Will it destroy the world? Ask British physicist Brian Cox: "Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a twat."

I think that sums it up.

Re:No (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666026)

Brian Cox: "Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a twat."

To which I will invoke Clarke's first law [wikipedia.org] :

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Arthur C Clarke would have loved this debate BTW. I am sorry he can't be here. I am off to read Childhoods End again.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666278)

He's only 41 years old, according to Wikipedia.

And I do not think that Arthur C. Clarke would have liked this so-called debate very much, any more than he liked evolution denial or geocentrism. The "arguments" that the LHC has even the tiniest chance of destroying the world are utterly specious. In many ways, they're less defensible than evolution denial, because they're made by people who should know better. There are plenty of high-energy protons (and low-energy ones) whizzing around everywhere all the time. The only thing the LHC does is to make one more, and to put a detector in the right place.

False premise (3, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666042)

The lawyer is basing his findings on a false premise: "any particle physicists would be afraid for their livelihoods". This is not the case. There are a lot of particle physicists that are not working for CERN and whose research does no depend on CERN nor the LHC.

Also the bit about "anybody else afraid for their lives". I am not afraid for my life.

I am neither a particle physicist nor afraid for my life, there is no problem.

extremely fascinating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666066)

this is a wonderful approach!
it shows the difference between law and progress: law is meant to make society work. it does not have a need to be "right". there is no right. human progress is made by making mistakes and taking risks. law is there to make order and society. we are at a point now where progress means making mistakes that have the potential to take out all of the society that law is meant to enable. the questions are very profound and i will not attempt to answer them, but this is a great way to access them. the same applies to many other topics like nuclear weapons, nano tech, genetics etc, but i have never before seen them put forward so accessible. thank you!

Inappropriate use of cost-benefit analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666172)

Cost-benefit analysis [wikipedia.org] is inappropriate for an experiment like that in that the worst-case undesirable outcome would result in everyone being dead. A Risk-benefit analysis [wikipedia.org] is the preferred method of determining if an experiment is ethical.

Let us imagine we were doing an analysis of the following game - Someone will pay you one million dollars to take a single bullet, load it into a six shot revolver, spin the cylinder and then point the gun to your head and pull the trigger. A cost-benefit analysis says you shouldn't do this - the risk is your life, or 100% vs one million dollars. On the other hand, a risk-benefit analysis says you have a 83.33% chance of walking away with one million dollars, which is a pretty good bet (admit it, you'd probably do it.)

The LHC is similar. Even the nay-sayers agree the chances of something cataclysmic happening is very low. On the other end, the things we learn about the inner workings of the universe and strange particles could improve life for everyone on earth.

End of world (1)

TheLinker (1554785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666220)

I say to test the LHC on 2012/12/21, so if there is a end of world, we will know (or not)

Seriously?! (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666240)

I like the academic arguments. In this case, its purely academic.

But the problem I have with this guy's approach is that while the likelihood of LHC-created Earth-destroying black holes is infitesimally small, the likelihood of crazy nutjobs picking up his argument as "proof" of LHC dangers approaches 1. Society will always have people with mental disabilities; taking advantage of them doesn't make you look smart - it just makes you look cruel and stupid. In this case, it's fairly obvious he's either oblivious to the problems his statements will create for other people, or he cares more for gaining publicity than the possible problems his statements will create.

There are valid concerns with the global warming debate. I have seen the data, and yes, a cursory analysis of temperature puts us on the downward decline of a 100 year cycle*. However, even a rudimentary understanding of physics dispels any concerns over LHC created black holes. The controversy is manufactured entirely by the press and a few, possibly very stupid, lackeys who go along with them for reasons unknown. I can only speculate the reasons why he can't be bothered to obtain even a first-semester understanding of physics, but I, for one, would not hire anyone as my lawyer who demonstrates not only a complete misunderstanding of physics, but also the inability to even perform a Google search on the subject.

There is another possibility of course; that they'll simply attempt to ignore it.

He forgets a third possibility: that the physicist who does respond will expose his ignorance in a very public and demeaning manner. The more charitable physicists might simply dismiss the charge, but if I had to respond, it would be very difficult for me to refrain from calling him incorrigibly stupid and recommending him for a career digging ditches, as digging himself into a hole is the only talent he's demonstrated. The only recovery possible from such a ludicrous position is to admit you've found Jesus and have changed from your old, vindictive, lying, self.

* - Yes, I understand there are, really, genuinely crazy people denying global warming. However, there are also well-reasoned arguments calling into question the connection between burning fossil fuels and global temperature (for example, we can only account for about half of the carbon burned as fossil fuels; it's going somewhere, but it's not staying in the atmosphere...) But that's nowhere close to the notion of LHC-created black holes destroying the earth. Even if we could create black holes with the LHC, they would possess the same mass and gravitational attraction as their constituent particles - negligible. Unlike global warming, the LHC issue is not a matter of an unresolved scientific question, but rather, a misunderstanding of basic physics.

Anthropomorphic Prinicple suggests that ... (1)

p-cubed (559715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30666260)

the absence of detectable advanced civilizations may result from the inevitable destruction by black holes of such civilizations once they acquire the capacity to build an LHC-like device. Hence, the LHC will destroy the earth.

The legal system is not logical or scientific (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30666334)

Myself I'm fearful Neros creepy red matter transport spaceship was ruined so he is now personally overseeing the development of the LHC to destroy the earth from a location other than San Francisco Bay.

Its pretty sad there are still crackpots out there lacking basic knowledge of the relationship between matter/energy and gravity.

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