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New Heavy Ion Collider could "destroy the earth"

Hemos posted about 15 years ago | from the honey-i-destroyed-the-earth dept.

Science 413

Sith Lord Jesus writes "According to an article in the London Sunday Times, a new nuclear accelerator designed to recreate the Big Bang might possibly--*possibly*--cause the earth to "disappear in the twinkling of an eye." Oops. " This reminds me of the some the fears that the folks in the Manhatten Project had-almost zero chance of anything occuring, but the notion of creating a black hole on the surface of the Earth is a strangely appealing one, from a sheer comedic value POV.

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Scientists were afraid in New Mexico in 1945 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796587)

Scientists didn't know whether the first uncontrolled man made uranium chain reaction wouldn't spread and split more atoms than they thought. Let's hope "stranglets" don't multiply.

Could you imagine Saddam Hussein with one of these (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796588)


Let's go out with a (Big) Bang! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796589)

I once heard a report on Explorations. ( that colliding subatomic particles could form a Perfect Vacume. This vacume would replace our universe's Pretty Good Vacume and erase our existence. Kinda sucks dosen't it?
An unlikely scenario, but that doesn't stop people from picketing particle accelerators.

story .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796590)

there was a story about exactly this kind of thing (a 200TeV supercollider) in omni magazine a while back..( remember who wrote it..


Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796591)

No. they capitalise the first 2 words of the sotyry routinely. this just happenned to be A NUCLEAR. check the other stories.

The Sunday Times is a tabloid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796592)

This is the same paper that published the
"ethnic bullet" story.

Book about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796593)

A few months ago I read a sci-fi fiction book on this very subject. They were creating an accelerator around Saturn that would try and duplicate the initial condition of the Big Bang, and a few scientists figured out it would most likely work very well and destroy if not the universe, then at the very least a major section of it.

Too bad I can't remember what the book is called :( It's somewhere on one of my shelves, but I have a lot of books.

Some things you just don't do..putting your hand i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796594)

Oh great, NOW you tell me!

Re:Igniting the Atmosphere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796595)

A cobalt bomb is a different thingy, although about 8 should be enough to get rid of humanity and some other stuff. Not by its expliosive power though.

Minor side note, NASA is going to send a plutonium loaded probe that might reenter the atmosphere in August. If it does about 72lb of that stuff is going to come down on us ... farewell then.

While some things might seem to be laughable there risks no-one ever asked me whether I'd like to take them and the more we are reaching the limit where "something" goes wrong can destroy a lot of the world, the more the irresponsibility of quite a bunch of people shows up.

I dare say the scientists are the most sane though and physics is just cool 8)

Re:The Sunday Times is a tabloid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796596)

..and how Linux sucks..

Re:Scientists were afraid in New Mexico in 1945 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796597)

Haven't you heard of conservation of hadron numbers, lepton numbers, charge, etc...? There's no way s\bar{s} quark pairs can spread like that.

Um, okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796598)

I went to Cal Berkeley for a few years, and there was always the concern that some idiot (read: grad student) would come up with some nifty idea. I'd be sitting in class, thinking through the lecture, and *poof* I AM NO MORE. This is kinda getting hit by a baseball bat in the back of the head. Just think, you could be minding your own business and then you just

Other things could happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796599)

This could create random portals to other dimensions in random places in the Earth (or perhaps even create these dimensions!), kill 3/5 of the people on the Earth (with no apparent logic wrt why the other 2/5 were spared), or even make the Matrix collapse and make us wake up in the Real World (TM) ;-) .

At least if new dimensions appear/are created we could hope that they are like ours (the probabilities are bigger than unrelated ones. Explaining why is left as an exercise to the reader).

when a black hole finally evaporates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796600)

Hmmm... if I remember right from the Steven Hawkings book, when a black hole finally evaporates, it also explodes with the force of millions of hydrogen bombs. Not In My Backyard, pleeze.

Re:The Sunday Times is a tabloid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796601)

.and how Linux sucks..

And so obviously the paper has no journalistic merits. Since its reporting doesn't agree with the prejudiced views of the clueless Slashdot weenies, it's obviously all bollocks.

Now, as it happens, the Sunday Times is not my favourite newspaper, but it has to be pointed out that, although todays story on particle physics was a little alarmist, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, most of what's in the paper is sound journalism.

If Slashdot really is the future of news reporting, god help us. Welcome to... the peoples' republic of LINUX(tm)?

Re:Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796602)

FFS. Obtain clue before proceeding. Take steps to find out something about the subject on which you are about to spout off before doing so.

Re:ummm, is there a point to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796603)

Just a thought... and on the subject of misspending, imagine if our governments had put the money behind echelon to a legitmate purpose...
In what way is Echelon not "legitimate"?

next summer's blockbuster movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796604)

great, here come the blockbuster disaster movies..


Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796605)

If it could happen, it would have happened billions of years ago.


One Big Bang! is enough for a lifetime. They say that Sadam Hussein and Hitlery and Bin Laden and Manuel Ortega and Fidel Castro and Slobodon Milosovic are ethnic clensers but this would be even worse than ethnic clensing because it would genicide all of the life on this planet and beond!

Re:Book about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796606)

Perhaps our 'Big-Bang' was caused by some civilization that build a Heavy Ion super collider and fired it up and their big bang was caused... etc...

Now I have one of those ice-cream brain freezes :)

Re:Larry Niven Stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796607)

I remember the story, didn't think it was Niven, but could have been. Too bad nobody write cheap pulp science fiction any longer...

Re:ummm, is there a point to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796608)

How about if they spent all the money they piss away on welfare programs on scientific advancement of any sort? 2 (or is it 3?) trillion dollars spent since the sixties with no measurable improvement. Gotta love it.

Hmmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796609)

Just what do you propose as prospective list of priorities for humanity?

Re:Physicist steps in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796610)

So you think you know what you're talking about? hmmm... so why bother with experiments, why don't you just give them all the details on what would happen?

Stuff of comic books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796611)

When I heard this just now on the radio, it sounded like one of those news reports in a B sci-fi flick: "Scientists report that the new 'Mega-Laser', with the potential to destroy the entire planet, is undergoing testing in an undisclosed location..." I was waiting to hear about the strange disappearance on Dr. Sly Conniving and the coincidentally missing blueprints.

Well, I got home to find out more, figuring it would be slashdotted. Sure enough...

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796612)

I would have to have sex at least once before I were to die.

Same for fusion bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796613)

Well, I don't know the story about the fission bomb, but when Teller did his first bang, scientist were not able to give a definitive "NO" to the question, if the fusion would jump over to the hydrogen and maybe even some other atoms in the atmosphere.

Seems to be typical American to say "Before anybody else get's a change, let *US* blast this planet away.".

I thought a cosmic ray didnt really collide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796614)

Given that they arent actually particles but just electromagnetic waves... Now I know they do not usually give off all their energy to atoms they disrupt, otherwise bubble chambers wouldnt work. Do they ever give off all their potential energy in one collision with a nucleus? Like these gold ion's obviously will.

How does that quote go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796615)

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will be instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another which states that this has already happened."

"The Restaurant at the end of the Universe", -Douglas Adams

Re:Physicist steps in... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796706)

So I think I know what I'm talking about.

Who is General Failure, and why is he reading my hard drive?

Take anything that a physicist named "Bob" says with a grain of salt. If the guy thinks that there is actually some General named "Failure" reading his hard drive and doesn't recognize it as an ERROR CODE then he is NOT a physicist. Maybe a wannabe like the majority of the people on this newsgroup but definately not a real one.

I, however, am a REAL physicist and I know lots of things about strange corks. They infect anything that comes into contact with them much like a virus. The infected corks in turn infect others until ALL of the stuff in the universe is strange. This has all happened before and it will all happen again. Ever been to SanFransisco or Puyallup? If so then you know what I'm talking about.

Quarks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796707)

I seem to remember that quarks don't even exist except in groups of twos or threes. Whenever you seperate a group of them (proton, etc), each seperate quark will create another one to latch on to it (bad oversimplistic terms, probably). So an isolated quark won't really be isolated.

If that's the case, I'd assume that the new mass comes from the energy that was put into seperating them in the first place, but it's been a while, and I really don't remember for sure. Anyone who knows their stuff want to clear this up?

The problem is that they're scientists (5)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1796712)

So they won't say it "can't" happen, since you can't say that about anything. If you solve the quantum mechanics of picking my nose there is a nonzero probability that I will create Dark Matter which will cause the subsequent distintigration of my nose, me, and the alpha quadrant. That is what our probibalistic universe means. There is just about a nonzero probability of anything.

Back in the 70s when the first recombinant DNA experiments were taking place, there was a public outcry, mainly a result of politicians stirring up people for political reasons. They dragged a bunch of biologists into court and asked them the probability of creating dangerous organisms, as some scientists had suggested. Of course, the biologists who were about to do the experiments had carefully researched this possibility and come to the conclusion that it was extraordinary- but of course, not nonzero. When they testified, they were repeatedly asked if such a thing could never happen. They had to answer no, of course not, there is always a probability of anything happening.

Well, the experiments were banned for several years. No one in the world had any problems with inadvertant creation of dangerous organisms, and now recombinant dna experiements are commenplace. But think of the progress that was lost!

Remember that scientists are people too, and don't want the earth to collapse any more than you do. Saying that something has a small probability is about the safest assurance you can hope for, at least from a real scientist. Articles like this that attempt to use scare-mongering to whip up readership, at the expense of science, are very dangerous for everyone.

Re:The problem is that they're scientists (1)

hurin (63) | about 15 years ago | (#1796713)

I can only agree with you. Abouth 4 years ago the problem was with child porn and neo nazism on the internet, and now in Europe it is genetically altered plants.

I guess there will always be men in power who knows next to nothing about science. But who will try to halt the advancement of mankind to serve their own ends.

But alas so far they have all failed.

Re:Big Bang? (1)

hurin (63) | about 15 years ago | (#1796714)

I guess if you lived in the stone age you would be opposed to fire ?

If someone had asked 70 years ago what quantum teory was good for. No one could probably give him an answer. But look now we have computers.

Re:Plan 9 from outer space... (1)

hurin (63) | about 15 years ago | (#1796715)

No this is the one known as the worst movie ever made. Created by Ed Wood.

It was about grave robbers from outher space, who resurrected the dead.

Dan Simmons (1)

dmd (404) | about 15 years ago | (#1796721)

For those of you who've read Dan Simmons' Hyperion...

Great. We're gonna get the earth sucked into a black hole, and we don't even have the Hawking drive yet.


On the off chance you are serious... (1)

yet another coward (510) | about 15 years ago | (#1796722)

The capitalization is part of their style. The first little bit of each article is capitalized. Read some more articles at the site.

Forever Peace (2)

seth (984) | about 15 years ago | (#1796732)

Joe Haldeman (who also wrote Forever War) wrote a book Forever Peace, which had the premise that scientists were building a huge collider in the orbit of Jupiter to study and recreate the big bang, but, as it turns out, would actually create a new big bang, destroying life, the universe and everything.

Anyways, I find it interesting that the news story and a recent sci fi novel have the same premise.


Mad Quacker (3327) | about 15 years ago | (#1796749)

Notice how the journalist capitalizes NUCLEAR. Just meant to stir up fear with those not in-the-know. All particle accelerators deal with some sort of nuclear particle.

Re:Big Bang? (1)

Mad Quacker (3327) | about 15 years ago | (#1796750)

You're just afriad of what you don't know. Speaking of, they aren't trying to create a universe...

Re:ummm, is there a point to this? (1)

Mad Quacker (3327) | about 15 years ago | (#1796751)

The money put into scientific research is miniscule, compared to everything else, especially offensive/defensive forces (echelon, the military, etc) Last time I checked, US gov't funding of scientific research was shrinking.

Re:Not a problem (1)

rve (4436) | about 15 years ago | (#1796754)

How do collisions with an energy greater than the equivalent of two gold nuclei bumping into each other at 99.9% of the speed of light at an angle of 180 degrees occur naturally? Please enlighten me, as I know very little about cosmic radiation.

argh (0)

arielb (5604) | about 15 years ago | (#1796759)

man if this blows up the earth I'd be really really pissed

Re:when a black hole finally evaporates... (1)

arielb (5604) | about 15 years ago | (#1796760)

yes please -don't screw up MY universe,ok? go nuke some other universe

Clearly not a problem, but... (1)

HEbGb (6544) | about 15 years ago | (#1796763)

Obviously there's no danger of anything catastrophic happening.

The controversey certainly did bring a lot of attention to the project, though, didn't it? I wonder if they have a really slick publicist, or just lucked out.

With threats of science funding cuts, this sort of thing is getting more frequent.

Re:ummm, is there a point to this? (1)

djarb (6628) | about 15 years ago | (#1796765)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against this sort of research, but couldn't all this money and manpower be better used???

No, not really. That's 350 million pounds. Million, not billion or trillion. With the world population just having passed 6 billion--on friday, IIRC--that's not enough money to achieve anything significant. If this money were devoted to social causes, it would effectively disappear. It would make no measurable difference. Being used where it is, it is moving us further along the path to understanding the universe. What we understand, we can manipulate beneficially. The potential benefit to every human is much greater this way.

Igniting the atmosphere is possible, and fun! (1)

mahlen (6997) | about 15 years ago | (#1796768)

I believe the concern was that the tremendous heat could bring atmospheric nitrogen to it's burning point. Since the atmosphere is only 25% oxygen, a nitrogen fire could consume all oxygen fairly quickly. However, i don't know if burning nitrogen produces enough heat to keep the reaction going, which may explain why it hasn't happened.

But hey, if it did, would it make nitrous oxide? We'd all die laughing our fool heads off.

I just read "On the Beach", which is about how people face the extinction of the species, in an event that is still far more likely to occur (an atmosphere full of radioactive dust after full-on nuclear war). In this book, i think Albania starts the last war, and the Chinese and the Russians both used Cobalt bombs.


If God had not given us sticky tape, it would have been necessary to invent it.

Unlikely. (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1796771)

You know, the thing that has always facinating me about nature is it's incredible logic. The most facinating thing to me, is that the world functions at all. Now, I don't know what these physicists are arguing about, or how it could destroy the planet, but I find the entire idea foolhearty, and I'll tell you why -

(as I recall), in quantum physics, the probability of *anything* simply vanishing without a trace, for no known reason is a non-zero percentage. It's admittedly very small, but not non-zero. It's the same here. I could fart, and rearrange the quarks around me into some heretofore unknown configuration, and oblitherate the planet.So the solution is that I should never fart (and neither should anybody else!). Heh.

Seriously, we're in far more danger of our government deciding to do some "nuclear testing" on foreign soil and starting WWIII (thus ending the world), than we are of a bunch of physicists doing it.

Besides... it's the job of evil overlords and certain north-american based governments to cause the destruction of mankind - not a bunch of physicists. Everybody who reads comic books knows that. ;)


Re:Appocalypse Now (1)

Jonathan C. Patschke (8016) | about 15 years ago | (#1796773)

So January 1st, y2k, we won't need to worry about computer failures - they're putting this thing in full swing.

I believe that would be January 1, 2001.

The following sentence is true.
The previous sentence is false.

Physicist steps in... (4)

mcelrath (8027) | about 15 years ago | (#1796774)

Folks, this is patently ridiculous. Strange quarks have been produced in accelerators since the fifties. The notion that strange quarks could start a chain reaction converting things into strange matter is absolutely absurd. For the curious, I direct you to the Particle Adventure [] , and the RHIC Homepage [] which will hopefully be more enlightening than the drivel that the Sunday Times spouts.

Just to make things clear, I'm a grad student in physics, working on the BaBar experiment (at SLAC in SanFran). My analysis involves kaons, which are bound states of strange quarks and up/down quarks. And yes, physics has produced many, many kaons over the years. So I think I know what I'm talking about.


The worst case scenario (2)

Larne (9283) | about 15 years ago | (#1796780)

If current theories are right there is also a chance, again infinitesimal, that this thing could trigger the metastable vacuum. The metastable vacuum is a theoretical region of space that has a lower ambient energy than a regular vacuum. No matter we know of could exist in a metastable vacuum, it would all just sort of evaporate.

Once created, the metastable vacuum would spread out at the speed of light, eventually deflating the entire Universe. Puts little piddly concerns like the Earth into perspective, huh?

Still, I'm not loosing any sleep. If there were any real chance of this happening, odds are it would have happened millennia ago. Personally, I can't wait until this thing starts producing data. Science rocks.

72 lb's of PU is not that much (2)

Serfer (11135) | about 15 years ago | (#1796793)

you're forgetting that PU is an EXTREMELY dense element. 72 pounds of it is hardly anything

Wouldn't it be interesting............ (1)

Sevn (12012) | about 15 years ago | (#1796808)

If we haven't met face to face with other
intelligent beings because they made one of
these things first. ;) This could be the
scientific achievment that starts the
endgame. Spooky eh?

How I learned to stop worrying, and love the bomb. (1)

mrsam (12205) | about 15 years ago | (#1796809)

Or was that some kind of Cobalt bomb or something? It was actually called "Cobalt Sodium G", and it was a part of the Doomsday Device that the Russians were building in the 1960s...

cosmic ray energies (1)

rillian (12328) | about 15 years ago | (#1796811)

How do collisions with an energy greater than the equivalent of two gold nuclei bumping into each other at 99.9% of the speed of light at an angle of 180 degrees occur naturally? Please enlighten me, as I know very little about cosmic radiation.

I don't either, really, but the energies of some cosmic rays are just insane. The introduction [] to the RHIC documentation [] gives an upper bound for the beam energies of 100 GeV/nucleon. Cosmic rays have been seen with energies in excess of 100TeV (1000 times larger).

These are very rare, of course, but we certainly see several every year. This is why studying cosmic rays is still a useful thing, even though we have these amazing accelerators. :)

Re:Big Bang? (3)

SeanCier (12804) | about 15 years ago | (#1796812)

Why the hell do they want to recreate the creation of the universe anyway?

They're not trying to create a new big bang; there's not even a prevailing theory on 'why' the big bang happened in the first place, or what took place in the first (miniscule) fraction of a second. However, a lot of theories, both cosmological models and GUTs (Grand Unified Theories) depend on what happened in the high-energy conditions that existed only in that first second, during which -- for instance -- our basic forces congealed out of the morass. So, recreate the high-energy conditions, and you can investigate the theories experimentally.

That said, recreating big bang conditions isn't even the primary aim of most accelerators; the high-energy conditions required to isolate particles simply happen to be the exception rather than the rule in the universe today, while the big bang was one circumstance in which they were the rule.


Where would chain reaction energy come from? (2)

choo (14599) | about 15 years ago | (#1796821)

The article reports that the 'strangelets' produced may set off a chain reaction, converting everything it comes into contact with into strange matter. But it seems that a lot of energy will be required to break up nuclei into its constituent quarks (?). But where would the energy for a such chain reaction come from? After all energy has to be conserved e.g. colliders require very large amounts of energy to accelerate atoms to very high speeds to break them up in the first place.

But the article just says that matter may be transformed into 'more strange matter'. What does this actually mean?

Re:Igniting the Atmosphere (1)

sammy baby (14909) | about 15 years ago | (#1796823)

Hear hear. I'm glad that there are still some critical readers left on Slashdot.

By the way, for a good summary of the technology involved in producing the Cassini probe (and why you shouldn't panic about the plutonium on board), check out this letter [] on Brill's Content. It was written (by a friend - go Chris go!) in reaction to one of the many paranoia inducing articles that's been circulating about the probe.

Ever wonder... (1)

WareW01f (18905) | about 15 years ago | (#1796852) much they don't tell us about? Still the thing is that where talking about scientists here, in the scientific community, if you say something can happen, but it's extremely unlikely, you're simply covering all of the bases. Unfortunatly, when Reporter X hears this, they proceed to "expose" this because people have a "right to know" (Or is that the newspaper has a "right to sell issues" I forget.)

Of course this does not mean that I don't think that a bunch of scientists, that usually have little knowledge of what they're actually doing couldn't end up destroying the planet. I just have faith that if they fuck up it'll prolly be huge, with no way out. In which case there's nothing we can do anyway and so it's pointless to worry about.

At least that's my 00000011. :)

A Collider in Hemos's brain? (1)

TNN (19310) | about 15 years ago | (#1796854)

Considering the amount of redundancy and lack of proof-reading in Hemos's headline there must be some embedded radioactivity up there!
Hemos, what cell phone do you use?

Plan 9 from outer space... (1)

C. (20089) | about 15 years ago | (#1796859)

Wasn't it in that movie that aliens came to warn us we were about to ignite the whole Universe with our scientific experiments, or something like that?

At last we can explain Area 51...

Actually, to wipe out JFK Jr. (2)

The Bastard (25271) | about 15 years ago | (#1796872)

Think about it. Test fired on Friday, and creates
some sort of space-time warp, plane comes into contact with it and *POOF*...gonner.

It's possible...just not too probable

Dammit Jim...It's "U-N-I-X",

Not a problem (3)

SEWilco (27983) | about 15 years ago | (#1796886)

There was a letter to the editor in a recent Scientific American about that possibility. The reply explained why it was unlikely and pointed out that more powerful cosmic ray reactions happen frequently in our own atmosphere. If it could happen, it would have happened billions of years ago.

Re:Not a problem (3)

SEWilco (27983) | about 15 years ago | (#1796887)

Here is the July SA letter to the editor and reply: Black Holes at Brookhaven? []

Re:do you want to take the chance?! (1)

Fluffy the Cat (29157) | about 15 years ago | (#1796891)

Oops. Better not go outside - there's a non-zero risk that you'll be hit by a bus. Mind you, there's a non-zero risk that the roof will fall on you if you stay inside.

Nothing is perfectly safe. However, the chances of this creating a black hole that will wipe out the planet are significantly less than that of a nuclear holocaust at midnight on December the 31st. Or of a race of war-like aliens suddenly materialising and enslaving the entire human race next week, for that matter...

tiny black holes (1)

wmute (29403) | about 15 years ago | (#1796895)

My physics is a bit rusty but if a microscopic black hole formed wouldn't it actually be "A Good Thing" (tm) since it would be so small we should be able to suspend it in a magnetic field after it is charged of course and simply extract energy out of it.. creating a almost limitless and clean power supply?

Big Bang? (1)

Rorschach (31550) | about 15 years ago | (#1796897)

Why the hell do they want to recreate the creation of the universe anyway?

Wouldn't that basically create a universe either, inside this one, or a universe that just wiped ours away.

Some things you just don't do..putting your hand in the blender on purpose is one..this is probably another one....

Re:when a black hole finally evaporates... (1)

Vrongar (33454) | about 15 years ago | (#1796905)

It has to have the mass/energy of a million H bombs to do that. A Hole with the m/e of two gold nuclei will just make a pretty spark.... 4.something Mev per atomic mass x about 170 x 2, about 1.5Tev.... 1.5 x 10^12. 1 eV = 10^-19 joules. 1 watt for a ten-millionth of a second.


Unless it's Gev per atomic mass, in which case it'll be 1000x more powerful.

Wow (1)

insomniac (33758) | about 15 years ago | (#1796906)

And I live on Long Island, this is pretty fucking scary. You could already say I'm 'strange matter,' but I don't wanna get any stranger.


insomniac (33758) | about 15 years ago | (#1796907)

And a huge black hole would also wipe out Israel!

Conservation of energy (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | about 15 years ago | (#1796909)

What about the expansion theory of the creation of the universe, where a quantum blip went into expansion mode... Isn't conservation of enery/matter a classical (i.e statistical) phyisics "law", rather than a quantum reality? If the inventors of Quantum theory don't claim to understand it, then I doubt any slashdotter does!

seti (4)

dermond (33903) | about 15 years ago | (#1796910)

now, that explains why SETI is not more successful: just a few years after that aliens learnd how to send out radio waves, their curious scientists turned their plantes into black holes.. ;-)))

As long as they tell me before they try it out... (1)

abamfici (35737) | about 15 years ago | (#1796915)

Just give me a good 24 hours to go and get laid and go parachuting and get laid and eat lots of greasy junky food and get laid before they flip the switch just in case it does end the world and I'll be happy.



abamfici (35737) | about 15 years ago | (#1796916)

you forgot to first post the ask slashdot article


Re:Even if there was a black hole created... (1)

Betelgeuse (35904) | about 15 years ago | (#1796920)

Right. If it were just the black hole created with those two little particles, it would be no problem. What they are worried about, however, is a chain reaction where all sorts of strange quarks would be stripped off atoms to create a massive black hole. Not that I beleive anything like this could happen, but that's what they are saying, I think.

Re:Unlikely. (1)

Betelgeuse (35904) | about 15 years ago | (#1796921)

Please explain what is wrong with his reasoning. I don't understand what the problem is.

Black holes don't "suck" (3)

coyote-san (38515) | about 15 years ago | (#1796923)

This reminds me of the type I tried to explain the science fallacy that "vacuums suck" to a former girlfriend. Vacuums don't suck; it's the fact that there's fewer air molecules coming from a particular direction that results in the unbalanced pressure, and thence the "sucking" effect. Once the air pressure drops enough that the back pressure from the vacuum matches the internal pressure in the chamber you'll see no "sucking" effect -- and the air pressure in the chamber won't drop further.

This article contains a similar fallacy: "black holes suck in..." They do not, they *cannot* reach out with some mysterious force to yank unsuspecting atoms to their death.

They *do* have gravitational attraction, of course, but we're talking about a miniscule mass. Any singularity with this mass will be indescribably small, and even if it survives Hawking radiation it will only rarely hit a proton or electron just right to effect capture. I'm reminded of Rutherford's experiments shooting electrons at gold foil -- and in that case the few bounces where due to an electrostatic force many orders of magnitude stronger than gravity.

The dangers from such a black hole are non-existent. The risk of strange matter contaminating the earth are harder to quantify... but where are the strange *stars* from the same effect?

Larry Niven Stories... (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | about 15 years ago | (#1796928)

Wasn't there a short story by Larry Niven where an astronaut on Mars commits murder by "accidentally" dropping a microscopic black hole through another man? At the end of the story,the narrator estimates that in a couple of years Mars would be gone, replaced by a slightly larger black hole in the same orbit.


Re:Igniting the Atmosphere (2)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | about 15 years ago | (#1796929)

Minor side note, NASA is going to send a plutonium loaded probe that might reenter the atmosphere in August. If it does about 72lb of that stuff is going to come down on us ... farewell then.

First, get your facts straight. NASA isn't launching anything in August. Cassini, which NASA launched last year, will be making a close pass to Earth in order to get a gravity boost on it's way to Saturn.

In any case, your description of the plutonium risk is a massive exaggeration. Plutonium is primarily dangerous if you breath it in as dust after managing to survive the atomic explosion that spread it around in the first place. If you do that, it is about the most toxic substance known to man - it will settle into your bones and just start spawning cancers.

NASA probes, OTOH, are using ceramic pellets to encase the plutonium. No dust. You could probably even handle the pellets (for a short while) without ill effects.

The biggest threat you face from Cassini is if it re-entered and happened to hit you on the head as it crashed.

Sheesh. You'd think someone who posts on Slashdot would know a little science.


"Emergency Black Hole Response Team" (1)

The Silicon Sorceror (40289) | about 15 years ago | (#1796930)

If by some strange chance a singularity was created by the ion collider, what they would have to do is isolate it somehow, contain it, and get one of the space agencies to pack it off on a quick course out of the solar system (just don't point it towards anything important ;-). Just because it's a black hole doesn't mean it will suck in the entire earth - it wouldn't have enough mass. More likely a steadily increasing trickle of surrounding matter would be assimilated.
Problem is, how do you suspend a black hole (preferably in vacuum) long enough to get it out of here? If it got away and ate its way down through Earth's crust, it would end up eventually destroying the earth as it absorbed matter at an exponentially increasing rate.

Oceans, too (1)

wabewalker (42099) | about 15 years ago | (#1796933)

There was the same thing with the oceans when they did testings under water. Would water molecules be torn apart, and then recombine (i.e., burn; the gases would have the right ratio)? And the energy set free would create a chain reaction, splitting even more water molecules?

Didn't happen, I believe :P

Still, I suppose scientists have to think about such matters. In this case, I'd say go for it! Mad science! Bwahaha!

Linux note: HEPpc: Linux Resources f or High Energy Physics []

Looking forward to the writeup (1)

wabewalker (42099) | about 15 years ago | (#1796934)

It's at Brookhaven National Labs. So when disaster happens and the Earth is destroyed, we get Steven Adler to do the writeup ;)

Cheap doomsday device though... (1)

wct (45593) | about 15 years ago | (#1796937)

If this thing only costs 350M pounds, I wonder how expensive it would be to construct a machine that could deliberately produce these strangelets. Something for the Dr Evil's of the future to consider anyway...

Ya, GUT (1)

FunOne (45947) | about 15 years ago | (#1796942)

Work like this is to develop a GUT (Grand Unified Theory), a set of laws that govern each and everything, everytime across the universe. If we developed it, such quick advances would be made in physics: space travel, communication, etc. That 350m pounds is CHEAP is it is found.

Re:Even if there was a black hole created... (1)

Somnus (46089) | about 15 years ago | (#1796943)

Damn straight! Besides, there have been many high energy collision experiments, obviously. All physicists are doing by cranking up the energy is looking further back in time (i.e., asymptotically closer to the hypothetical t=0 point of this universe, not unlike approaching absolute zero temperature). I don't think there's any reason to expect this experiment to cross some magic threshold that would annihilate our universe, of even the Earth.

Am I wrong? Anyway, if it were to happen, we probably wouldn't even know what hit us -- quick and painless.

Re:do you want to take the chance?! (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | about 15 years ago | (#1796946)

Oh shit! I better buy a wood stove.

Re:"Emergency Black Hole Response Team" (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | about 15 years ago | (#1796947)

Hey, we could put it into orbit around earth (or the sun) and blast all our trash off into it. It would be a, uhh, space fill.

aspiring to be Dave Barry... (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | about 15 years ago | (#1796948)

"But where would the energy for a such chain reaction come from?"

You know those pennies you have in a jar? And the little plastic tray cashiers keep pennies in? Well these are the so-called "lost-pennies". Einstein's special relativity relates time, mass and energy. We all know time is money, and conversely money is time. We also know energy must be conserved. It follows then that these lost pennies must create a surplus of energy to fulfill the law of conservation of energy.

Note: certain configurations of lost pennies, socks, and drying machines have been known to create black remember, always take the change out of your pockets before doing laundry

ummm, is there a point to this? (1)

m|sTaMoFo (50402) | about 15 years ago | (#1796952)

ok, is it just me, or does anyone else out there think that there are just a few slightly more important things out there for world governments to spend money on? Isn't anyone else disturbed by some of the money being tossed around on crap like this instead of somewhat more practical stuff like cures for horrible diseases? The more big nifty science crap I see on slashdot, the more I start to understand how fucked humanity's priorities are.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against this sort of research, but couldn't all this money and manpower be better used???

Just a thought... and on the subject of misspending, imagine if our governments had put the money behind echelon to a legitmate purpose...

Re:"Emergency Black Hole Response Team" (1)

QuantumET (54936) | about 15 years ago | (#1796958)

A black hole can be charged electrically; just shoot enough charged ions into it. Then, especially considering its weight, all you'd have to do is suspend it magnetically.

Though I'd still be inclined to believe it'd vanish before it can suck up much matter; that thing would be _tiny_

Even if there was a black hole created... (2)

QuantumET (54936) | about 15 years ago | (#1796960)

... it'd have a mass of what, a few atomic particles? It's even horizon would be less than an atomic radius, if that's even possible.

And if I remember right, Stephen Hawking showed recently that micro black holes 'evaporate' almost immediately; the smaller they are, the faster they vanish

do you want to take the chance?! (1)

agtofchaos (56094) | about 15 years ago | (#1796964)

Suppose our fears are justified and it does happen? Do you want to be killed by a black hole?

Re:Scientists were afraid in New Mexico in 1945 (1)

agtofchaos (56094) | about 15 years ago | (#1796965)

Why do we even bother researching this kind of stuff when we know that there is a chance of it screwing up everything? They already know that stranglets can be dangerous, so why are the insisting on making them?

Why it's not a problem (4)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 15 years ago | (#1796972)

I'm not a Physicist, but I'll try to play one on the net. Here's what I think is the current theory:

The vacuum is full of virtual particle-antiparticle pairs, constantly forming and annihilating, with a mass-time product less than the uncertainty principle's magic number. When a pair occurs near an event horizon, one of the particles can tunnel deep enough into it to be annihilated by its antiparticle below the horizon, allowing the partner to escape - as if the particle below the horizon had tunneled out. (If there isn't an antiparticle available, there isn't energy available to kick loose the particle that didn't penetrate the event horzon. So it falls in, too, and the virtual particle-antiparticle pair disappear back into the vacuum.)

So black holes evaporate. Bigger black holes have a bigger separation between the mass and the event horizon, and thus a lower mass density just under it. So the smaller the black hole the faster it eveporates. "Evaporate" means emit a spray of energetic subatomic particles.

If I have the constants right, a stellar-sized black hole emits the odd particle now and then, a mountain-mass black hole is a good approximation of a nuclear power plant's core, and so on. But radiation reduces their mass, so the faster they radiate, the faster they shrink, and the FASTER their radiation increases, until the event horizon suddenly disappears and the remaining particles come blasting out of the former cage at nearly lightspeed. It goes BANG big-time - because this happens when there's still a lot of stuff in there. Current high-end H-bombs would blush with envy.

A black hole with the mass of a couple heavy ions would have a very short lifetime, even as compared with other subnuclear processes. Making one that would have a lifetime in seconds would consist of creating a density of matter that would push stuff through the event horizon faster than it tunnels out. That's equivalent to making a BIG atomic fireball and squeezing it down to the size of a single nucleus.

So we might see black holes as screwier-than-usual short-lived composite particles acting as intermediate steps in sunuclear reactions. But we shouldn't see a baby black hole falling quietly out of the accellerator and eating the earth.

Of course, my understanding of the model could be wrong. B-)

Or the model could be wrong. In which case, other predictions from it (such as the hole forming in the first place) are also up for grabs.

Re:Let's go out with a (Big) Bang! (1)

cdlu (65838) | about 15 years ago | (#1796982)

Pickets can be dangerous - those pointy tips can penetrate the lab walls and set off a chain reaction well before it was intended. :)

Appocalypse Now (2)

cdlu (65838) | about 15 years ago | (#1796983)

"A successful test-firing was held on Friday and the first nuclear collisions will take place in the autumn, building up to full power around the time of the millennium. "

So January 1st, y2k, we won't need to worry about computer failures - they're putting this thing in full swing.

Reminds me of a quote from some field commander in the US civil war:
"At this range they couldn't hit an elephant!" Those were his last words. :)

Re:Scientists were afraid in New Mexico in 1945 (1)

Ion-Flux (65874) | about 15 years ago | (#1796984)

because the world would be a very boring place if we only did what was safe.
and because the pay off would be incredible.

"Perfection is achieved only at the point of collapse"-

Igniting the Atmosphere (1)

fwr (69372) | about 15 years ago | (#1796989)

Anyone remember when the scientist had a fear of igniting the atmosphere when they were testing the H-bomb? I always thought that one was funny also. Or was that some kind of Cobalt bomb or something? Geesh, I'm loosing it.

Re:tiny black holes (1)

TwistedGreen (80055) | about 15 years ago | (#1796995)

if we were to find, or create, a tiny black hole, we could tow it right next to the earth and all our problems would go away.
puncture the universe for fun and profit?

That's the thing... (1)

Onion (162470) | about 15 years ago | (#1796999)

Any mass that is consumed increases the size of the black hole. Given enough surrounding mass, growth increases at an exponential rate.
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