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The Big Bang Generator That Wasn't

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the defusing-the-errors dept.

Science 220

ajs sent us a good investigative piece from the Boston Globe. Many of you recall the article about the Long Island particle accelerator that was going to try to replicate Big Bang conditions. Over the last three months, it's moved around the media, culminating with Fred Moody's scare piece about it, although the British Sunday Times recently picked it up yet again. The Globe article does a great job dissecting the actual facts behind the experiment and pokes fun at the growth of this Chicken Little-type story.

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220 comments

Art Imitating Life... (2)

bughunter (10093) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622423)

Gregory Benford's Cosm [amazon.com] is an interesting look at this concept: A UCSD physicist goes to Brookhaven and slams a few uranium nuclei together using the RHIC, and creates a big bang. Since Benford is a physicist himself, he surely got the idea from early discussions of the possibilities in egghead literature.

In Benford's vision, the universe created was seperate from ours, joined only by a "window" that exhibited itself as a mysterious black sphere about the size of a bowling ball, but massive. Most of the novel deals with the scientists solving the mystery of "what the hell is this thing?" Fun, hard, witty SF, with lots of scenes taking place in La Jolla, Pasadena, and Brookhaven.

Overall, very similar to Timescape, also by Benford. Also set at UCSD. Also about scientists. Also a great read.

You can also read the official report (5)

decowski (20290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622424)

a committee of prominent physicists has also written a report, titled "Committee Report on Speculative "Disaster Scenarios" at RHIC". you can find it at http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/rhicreport.html [bnl.gov] . you will find the three 'disaster' scenarios described there.

sorry, no black holes or strangelets!

patrick.

None of this really matters (matter, get it...) (1)

sopwath (95515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622425)

OK, lets say nothing black-hole-ish happens. Then the scientists would know a little more about the big-bang.
What if a black-hole does form? Ooohhh Myyyy Goooood!!!!!!!!! Then fwoop it doesn't matter anymore does it. Why? Well, everyone on earth would almost instantly be compressed into an infinitly small space. We're all dead and then nothing would matter anymore anyways....

Dont listen to him (0)

Jeos (49871) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622446)

>>Fred Moody is the author of I Sing the
>> Body Electronic: A Year with Microsoft on
>> the Multimedia Frontier and of The
>> Visionary Position: The Inside Story of the
>> Digital Dreamers Who Made Virtual
>> Reality a Reality. His column appears on
>> alternate Wednesdays.


A ha! so he spent a year with Microsoft, it goes without saying that we can't trust/listen to him

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622447)

In a parallel universe (I think it was the one where Microsoft products work) RHIC did create a blackhole which consumed the local galaxy.

Re:Who are the Authors of that Piece? (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622448)

If it does do anything atrocious like make us all cease to exist, I assure you, none of us will care.

Alright...what is "strange matter"? (3)

slothbait (2922) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622449)

They mention "strange matter" a few times, with no explanation. I am but an engineer, and not very knowledgable about such things. But surely there is a theoretical physicist in the audience who could field this question, and enlighten the Slashdot readership. Please?

thanks,
--Lenny

More on the authors (2)

erf (101305) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622450)

I have met both John Swain and Steve Reucroft, and they are both very intelligent and talented physicists. They have basic homepages at Northeastern (be gentle on the server, it's a rather ancient Alpha):

Swain [neu.edu]

Reucroft [neu.edu]

It's worth it (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622451)

I must gain objective knowledge of the origin of all space, time, matter and energy, including me, the knower himself, and no rinky-dink little backwater planet overpopulated with superstitious primitives is going to stop me! Igor, the switch!

Interestingly depressing theory that Sagan had tho, that we can't find any ETI because they(we) always end up nuking them(our)selves.

It's either that or wait 5 billion years for Sol to engulf the earth in all it's gigantic red glory.

Chuck

Black Hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622452)

I have always had the insane wish to destroy the world... well, actually my first aim was to take it over, but after a while I realized that that could have been boring due to the sheer amount of people around me and I deemed more interesting destroying it as a whole... First attempt was about a nice and small nuclear war... at least before I realized that somebody could actually survive the radioactivity... too bad. Time to think about something more grand, like a tiny asteroid (7-8 miles in radius) hitting the west coast of north america (it does not really matter where it is going to hit... still that would be a nice counterpart to the gulf of Mexico)... the odds of getting any survivor in this scenario are nicely low... but you are not guaranteed that in let's say half a billion years something very similar to what humankind is right now will develop... woe is me! Third idea was a small star going nova, and incidentaly wiping out all the inner solar system... wonderful special effects and one hundred per cent guaranteed effectiveness... still does anybody know how to get the sun go nova? (details... small details... I hate details... by the way... even attracting an asteroid could be tricky!)... But now I read about this! A black hole!! Yes!!! The mareal forces it would generate should be more than enough in order to rip the planet apart before swallowing it... total and definitive distruction... annihilation of the matter itself... and there is a possibility the technology is already here!!! What could I ask more? I know it will not be easy, but there is hope... Just a few order of magnitude more energy (I daresay 10^10 should be enough for a start) and then... a dream cames true!

Low probability and no evidence (3)

Error 404 (50896) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622453)

The Sagan idea doesn't work with this. Even if the Earth became a black hole, there would be evidence of humans having existed. Earth would be a black hole with the same gravitational pull as it has now, just no size and an accessible event horizon.

It would be a black hole with a moon and satelites, some of them artificial.

And when physicists talk about "small but non-zero probablility" remember that there is a small but non-zero probability that a baseball-sized chunk of the Sun will appear on your desk within the next five minutes, due to quantum effects.

When these guys say "small", they mean it.


Fear my wrath, please, fear my wrath?
Homer

Re:Forever Peace (1)

Ian Pointer (11337) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622454)

It bears a passing resemblance to David Brin's Earth. Although even that had the notion that a singularity would have to be of a certain size before it started to be a problem.

Danger! Bogosity level reaching critical levels! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622455)

Fred Moody is not very smart, is he?

Ever wonder... (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622468)

Ever think maybe some people want to see something
really bad happen?

Segfault (0)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622471)

man, you can really tell segfaulters...

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622474)

punkass

But if Tesla were running this experiement... (2)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622477)

...then I'd be worried :)

life is like Slashdot! (2)

Suydam (881) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622480)

So...what I get from this, is that Slashdot as a community isn't really any more (or less) prone to knee-jerk reactions when someone trys to stir things up.

yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622481)

End of the world I Wish!!!

solve all my problems..

Re:Alright...what is "strange matter"? (1)

Tuxedo Mask (100850) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622482)

There is a good explanation [mit.edu] from Prof. Jaffe at MIT. (Scroll down a few pages to get to the relevant part of the transcript. The realvideo at the top picks up around at the interesting bit, and has more info.)

Ah...I needed a good laugh. (2)

slothbait (2922) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622483)

I must gain objective knowledge of the origin of all space, time, matter and energy, including me, the knower himself, and no rinky-dink little backwater planet overpopulated with superstitious primitives is going to stop me! Igor, the switch!
Beauty. This deserves to be in a fortune file.

It seems ~90% of Slashdot readers side with the scientists, but I wonder if there isn't a real concern here. This is something that you would have to be a scientist just to make a judgement on, though, so I suppose we are stuck with their discretion, whether we like it or not. Let's just hope that they aren't Mad Scientists!


--Lenny

Probability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622484)

Probabilities are jokes! Even when you say that an event has "probability zero" of occurring, still there is an infinity of cases it can happen... just they form a set of "mesure zero", but in the same sense as `the area of a line is zero'... The only thing a probability tells you is the likeness of something to happen, not whether it is going to or not. The likeness of an event like the one depicted in the article is definitely low... unless you have a nice starship powered by an "infinite inprobability drive" :))

Re:Alright...what is "strange matter"? (3)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622485)

According to current theory, quarks come in six flavors: top and bottom (sometimes called truth and beauty), strange and charmed, up and down.

Ondinary particles in the atomic nucleus (neutrons and protons) consist only of up quarks and down quarks. The other types of quarks may be produced in high-energy collisions, however.

IIRC, Strange matter is composed of these other types of quarks. In general, these particles are unstable and sooner or later (usually MUCH sooner) turn into normal quarks, giving off radiation in the process. Some people still worry about some chain reaction where strange matter converts normal matter into more strange matter, but I find this highly unlikely.

Earth is constantly bombarded by muons (related to electrons like strange quarks are to up quarks) and hasn't imploded on itself yet, even after billions of years. I really doubt we'll succeed in the 0.00000000000000000000003 seconds the collisions in the accelerator will last.

Someone really smart may be able to answer this... (1)

trcooper (18794) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622486)

I know that we 'believe' that black holes exist, but, what I am wondering is why, if they continue to gain mass and their event horizon increases exponentially, we haven't yet been sucked up by a neighboring hole.

Wouldn't it make sense that, these black holes out there would eventually all converge together, gaining mass and 'size', presumably even increasing escape velocity?

Can someone explain why this hasn't happened yet? Or let me know exactly when it will happen.

Re:Monkey Science (1)

TheCodeMaster (101307) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622487)

And after millions of years of evolution, many of us still have monkey brains. Jackass.

Re:Ah...I needed a good laugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622488)

Well... I am a mad scientist and, modestly, an evil genius... what is wrong with that?

good article, bad reassurance (1)

QueenFrag (5694) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622489)

I liked some of the points made, but a couple of sentences sent chills up my spine:

Would that we could, but we can't, any more than you can make a black hole by shooting two billiard balls together.

this reminds me of the PATOS (PATEOS?) from Zodiac, as in: "by using a down-to-earth metaphor, we'll displace all your silly, uninformed fears"

From a theoretical viewpoint then, the risk of catastrophe is probably negligible.

I think it's the wording of this that gets me. "probably negligible"? I know I'll sleep well tonight because the PR flacks have told me not to worry about it.

phew, what a pity :((( (1)

vt (5803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622490)

bad news. i suspected this because that moody was imbecile. phew. life is boring. lousy pre-hegira time continues forever. better we all die. shrike i summon you.

Re:Rubbish! (1)

kaphka (50736) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622503)

I remember reading that a large number of physicists thought the first nuclear weapon would ignite the atmosphere, destroying all life on Earth. Didn't happen.
You're not giving the Manhattan Project gang enough credit. As I heard the story, they feared that setting off an atomic bomb might destroy the world only until they had explored the physics enough to prove that it wouldn't. Nobody was holding his breath when the first a-bomb was tested, at least not for that reason.

I'm sure the same thing has happened in the current situation. Unfortunately, the RHIC folks don't have the luxury of a super-duper-secret classification to protect them from the scientifically illiterate press.

Well... (1)

Jizitup (101323) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622504)

Whoever said that if a black hole consumed the earth that we would be dead. Postulate please.

Re:Who are the Authors of that Piece? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622505)

I saw that they were from Northeastern, but that does not necessarily absolve them from a conflict of interest over this project.

Man if he can get a column on ABC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622506)

I could! imagine i could use science fiction movies as well as comedies (2001 and dr. strangelove)as sources as to why we should be worried about two sub-atomic particles creating a blackhole. I could further use Carl Sagan's musings on our own end due to nuclear war as fuel for the expirement killing us all. My source could be an obscure phyisist who quotes famous people like Stephen Hawking. Of course there would be no need for me to look into the specifics of these quotes after all they come from a wild eyed scientist (whos credientals are never mentioned). My final piece of news to freak out hte public to preform a witch hunt of these poor scientists lab would be to point out that we havent found life anywhere else so odds are, they were destroyed in thier own sub-atomic particle expirements gone wrong. That is journalism! Trust media, trust your TV. Dont think, TV cant lie. Just freak out.

Re:certainty and artificial black holes (1)

Ravagin (100668) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622507)

There's that "assuming there's a way." I wouldn't put it past the army to try something like that. "We're going to generate a black hole of Chna, and so waht if it does swallow the entire solar system, it's in the name of democracy..."
===
-Ravagin

Hmmmmmm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622508)

This article seems to contradict itself.

They dismiss any risk in this experiment by stating the fact that collisions in our upper atmosphere are often much more energetic than their collisions will be. They also point out that there are plenty of other accelerators in the world that produce higher energy collisions. Now, it seems to me that all of these collisions are of the same nature involving high energy particles. This experiment is uniquely different in that it is colliding heavy atoms of Au. What distinguishes this experiment from other accelerators and upper atmosphere collisions is the size of the collidees. To quote:

It is not a particularly energetic machine; indeed, the Tevatron at Fermilab, near Chicago, which has been collecting data for years, is much larger and more powerful. However, the Tevatron accelerates and collides single protons, whereas RHIC accelerates and collides gold nuclei containing almost 80 protons. This gives RHIC the potential to produce conditions of higher energy density and higher effective temperature than any other accelerator built to date ...

The key here semms to be that the collisions in this experiment have a very high energy density whereas the other collisions mentioned have a lower energy density. Presumably the collisions in the upper atmosphere, which they present as proof that our fears are unfounded, are also of the low energy density variety (I don't think too many Au atoms are colliding in our upper atmosphere). So are they not comparing apples to oranges? And if, as they state, this experiment is significantly different to those being conducted at the Tevatron, why is it not significantly different to upper atmosphere collisions?

FWIW.

already happened? (2)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622509)

The Globe article states:
Anything that RHIC can do has already been done many times by Mother Nature without dire consequences.
To the best of my understanding, this statement is false. The RHIC is designed to recreate conditions that are not believed to have existed at any time since the big bang. So the RHIC may in fact do something that has only been done once before in the history of the universe. And if that event wasn't cataclysmic, I don't know what was!

I'm not suggesting that everyone should panic about RHIC, but trying to write it off as old hat isn't the appropriate response either.

Art Bell guest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622510)

I don't care what that article says; this thing scares me a bit.

There was a very informative guest on Art Bell's radio programme the other night that had some troubling things to say about this. Apparently there is a lot more danger here than we are being led to believe.

I think that there are scientists out there who care more about these sorts of discoveries than their own lives. They would be willing to sacrifice themselves (and everyone with them) for this one presious bit of knowledge

Gravity is still related to mass. (1)

Logger (9214) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622511)

First, Larry Niven wrote a cool Sci-Fi mystery story called 'Hole Man' which has a quantom sized black hole as possible murder weapon.

While most of the posts here have been silly, I would like to point out that as best I can remember, the pull (Gravity) of a black whole is still related to its mass. Read: Black hole's have infinite density, not infinite mass. So say you converted 1 gram of matter into a black hole, it still would only have 1 gram's worth of pull. So the world wouldn't just instantly get sucked into oblivion.

However, this tiny black hole would tend to fall, as all things near the Earth do, and it would consume any matter it came in contact with, namely the ground, the mantle, the core, bit by bit, an atom at a time. In fact the mass of the earth is so small that the size of the black whole, probably would never get big enough to consume more than an atom at a time. It could conceivebly consume the whole planet assuming it had a stable orbit, as this thing would orbit the the center of the Earth, while passing though the Earth. Now a stable orbit isn't likely to form from a black hole created in the described manner. So, when enough mass is accumulated, the elliptical orbit will toss this thing far enough into space that the Sun's gravity will get ahold of it. In which case it would begin eating the Sun, and anything else in its orbit. The same process would likely happen there, and eventually it would be tossed out of our solar system, to go eat Alpha Centari or something else. Of course it may just eat everything, but it would still take a while.

Re:Someone really smart may be able to answer this (1)

t-money (32075) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622512)

Black holes radiate (sounds contradictory, doesn't it), and therefore lose energy (mass). There is some equilibrium size reached which balances this loss to mass inflow.

Re:Hmm, that's odd... (1)

Shadowlion (18254) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622523)

They aren't, so his statement is technically false.

However, I think it's pretty commonly believed that a grand unified theory (not to be confused with any specific Grand Unified Theory) of some sort does govern the entire universe. Whether it be a single equation, or a set of equations, the universe acts according to that grand theory.

So while his statement is technically incorrect using today's theories, eventually (for suitably arbitrary definitions of "eventually") we will figure out how to unite all of the various theories and forces into one encompassing mathematical/physical explanation.

Re:certainty and artificial black holes (1)

geon (7807) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622524)

a black hole weapon really would be devastating. So devastating, in fact, its use would be suicide.

There is a book, Forge of God by John Barnes (a good read), where a couple of mini-black-holes are dropped onto the earth's surface by malicious aliens.

The two black holes start eating through the earth, spriraling in towards the Earth's center, growing all the while. There, they meet and merge, liberating enough energy to blow the earth to hell.

Using black holes as weapons is suicide.

Cheers,
Geon

It's all a lie (2)

Fjord (99230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622525)

Fred Moody is the mouth puppet for the Global Dominition Force who are paving the way for the Xian invasion. Stephen Reucroft and John Swain are paid apologists for the RHIC project but what they don't know is that RHIC is funded out of the CIA drug slush-fund by The World Government for the exact purposes of researching and developing a black hole doomsday device that can be used against the encroaching Xian fleet. We need these black holes to form a parabola shaped lattice that will be used as a net on the Xians. To spread the fear Fred Moody supports is basically yelling to the sky "I want a third arm so I can be a better worker in your intergalatic slave catering business!" We know RHIC will make black holes. We just don't know if it it will be enough.

Re:Someone really smart may be able to answer this (1)

MobiusKlein (58188) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622526)

Why don't they grow forever & ever?

Because they run out of nearby matter.
Black holes don't 'suck' matter more strongly than a non-black hole body of the same mass.

rbb

Debunking the fear (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622527)

The opponents of this experiment were concerned about two separate issues:

  1. The creation of runaway black holes. It is true, if you cram enough matter into a small enough volume, you may reach the density required to form a Schwarzchild-like (or, if you put some English on the particles, and some charge, Kerr-Newman) black hole. However, the Chicken Littles who worried so intensely about this phenonmenon failed to account for something simple: Hawking radiation, that is, black holes evaporate. The larger the black hole, the slower the evaporation, in contradiction to common sense. Little-bitty holes go "poof!" in a flash of radiation and heavy particles. Anyway, the aforementioned CLs (Chicken Littles) failed to do a calculation out of, say, _Black Holes: The Membrane Paradigm_, in the section under "Evaporation of Black Holes In A Thermal Bath." It's basic differential equations, not that bad. I haven't gone through them myself, but I don't exactly sweat the announced end of the world, either.
  2. Strange matter. A very, very hypothetical possible byproduct (and from where they get the idea that it might be produced, I don't know) of certain collisions between selected particles would produce "strangelets," that is, baryonic matter like our nuclei, but with a non-zero strangeness (a quark property). Add hypothetical to hypothetical, strangelets can convert normal matter to strangelets and dump off energy. Again, the fear of a chain reaction. Once again, they overlooked the fact that strangelets only convert free neutrons. They can't even convert neutrons inside nuclei. Now, with a mean lifetime of approximately one thousand seconds, you just don't have a lot of free neutrons floating around. You'd have to work to create these hypothetical strangelets, hope that you'd get the conversion, and then build an entirely extra particle accelerator to funnel a beam of pure neutrons at your target. Not bloody likely.
Since most of the people doing the Chicken Little routine have doctorates, they should be ashamed. All of the data I have mentioned arises from my occasional prowls through the Web on odd topics and not much more than a light understanding of black holes. No good excuse exists for their collective oversight, and one might almost imagine that it is deliberate. "No such thing as bad publicity," goes the cliche, and I'm fairly sure that most of the remarks were made by second-raters with flagging careers who would like a little extra grant money.

Strange matter reaction (1)

gwaihir (101320) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622528)

Can anyone explain what a strange matter reaction is, other than the fact that it involves the muon-family?

Re:Hmmmmmm ... (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622529)

"And if, as they state, this experiment is significantly different to those being conducted at the Tevatron, why is it not significantly different to upper atmosphere collisions?"

Because upper atmosphere collisions involve molecules such as ozone, oxygen and nitrogen rather than free nucleons.

Re:Probability... (2)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622530)

Basic lesson in probability here. If an event has probability zero, it will never occur. Ever.
If anyone ever told you an event had probability zero and it did occur, they were an idiot.

Sorry, this will probably be rated as flamebait, but I can't stand when people who don't understand probability and statistics write it off as bullshit simply because they don't understand.

I strongly recommend the book Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos to anyone who has a problem with statistics. Maybe it won't teach you the subject in great detail, but it WILL show you how easily you can be ripped off by not understanding statistics. (Good read even if you think you already know.)

Sorry about the rant, but I come from a profession where manipulation and fabrication of figures (as is done by marketers to attract the public) would quickly end any prospects of future employment.

Re:Someone really smart may be able to answer this (1)

Restil (31903) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622531)

There are many different theories about it. The simple fact of the matter is that all the matter in the universe may eventually be concentrated within a single black hole, but it will take a few more years. The universe is still young. VERY young. The universe will be something along the lines of 10^70 years old before it gets swallowed up like this.

Another thing to realize, since empty space is more or less a sideeffect of the matter within it, if all matter is concentrated within a single singularity, there won't BE any space, and the universe will effectively disappear, at least back to the point it started at, a single point of high energy and mass, but no volume. BANG!

This, of course, relies on the theory that the universe is closed.

-Restil

Wow, I just realized that... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622532)

I just realized that "Anonymous Coward" isn't an actual person. I kinda thought he posted more than humanly possible.

Long Islander Voices Opinion (1)

mholve (1101) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622533)

As a Long Islander myself, and considering the mess over at Brookhaven (BNL), I'd just as soon they conducted their bangs elsewhere. Like out in the middle of the desert, where they won't fsck up our drinking water anymore with tritium and other )_#$...

Re:Someone really smart may be able to answer this (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622534)

Well, increasing the escape velocity wouldn't do much. The event horizon is the point at which the escape velocity equals the speed of light, thus nothing can escape.

There are two theories on how the universe will end, depending on the amount of dark matter out there. If there's too much, what you mentioned will eventually happen. If there's not enough, the universe will just keep expanding until matter and energy are spread to far apart for anything interesting to happen.
Cheers,

Rick Kirkland

small but non-zero probabilities (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622535)

(Don't take this as doom-saying about the work at Brookhaven or any specific project, it's meant as a general discussion.)

As we begin to control greater energies, we seem to be entering a time when some scientific experiments will entail small, but non-zero, risk to people in the area, maybe even to humanity at large.

How small of a probability of disaster does it take before we can justify a certain amount of risk, and how do we estimate the probability of disaster without a large number of trials?

For instance: IIRC, pre-Challenger the official estimates on the Space Shuttle having a fatal accident were supposed to be something like one in a million. (My copy of What Do You Care What Other People Think? is at home, feel free to correct me on the real number.) How do you get that estimate? Best way would be to launch a million times and see what happens, but that's hardly practical. Instead it was based on engineering knowledge of well-understood physical principals, materials, and techniques. But it was completely wrong, extrapolation on top of extrapolation without even a propagation of errors. How much worse are our chances of predicting the risks of new techniques, new materials, even new physics?

Of course, the fine and noble folks onboard the shuttle knew that there was a risk, and volunteered to take it. What about "innocent" bystanders? The probability of a fatal accident during the Cassini launch or flyby may have been one in a million (or, it may have been much greater - NASA's "Cassini Mission False and True" [nasa.gov] says "the navigation accuracy of NASA spacecraft is better than 20 km." Or is that 20 miles?), but it was never non-zero. No launch has a non-zero risk - there's some small chance of a chain of malfunctions that crashes the thing into someone's house. How small do we have to get the risk to justify the experiment?

I'm not going to lose any sleep over the Brookhaven work - given what we know about cosmic rays, I'd say the risk is greater that I'll be hit by a metorite than that there will be any problems there. But the questions of risk to the public will remain.

Re:Monkey Science (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622536)

Hm. Taking things apart/Putting them together.
Synthesis/Analysis.

What tools would you suggest we use instead?
These categories seem kind of general.

Re:Alright...what is "strange matter"? (3)

splog (21459) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622537)

The Standard model of particle physics contains two types of particles bosons and fermions. To a first approximation fermions can be thought of as 'stuff' and the bosons carry the fundemental forces between various bits of 'stuff'. (For example an electron is a fermion that feels electromagnetic forces when it interacts with a photon). The fundemental forces of interest here are the weak and strong forces.

The fermions that feel the strong force are called the quarks and are individually named up, down, *strange* (so called because it wasn't expected at the time it was discovered), charm, bottom and top. The gluons (bosons for the strong force) interact very strongly with both the quarks and each other to such a degree that the quarks are actually bound together (nobody has ever experimentally observed a free quark) into groups of either three or two quarks, like the proton (two ups and a down) and the neutron (two downs and an up).

Strange matter is a grouping a quarks that include the strange quark. The reason why you haven't heard about strange matter before (but have heard about neutrons and protons I hope :) is that the strange quark can decay via the weak force into the up and down quarks (mainly the up) and will do so because it's heavier and therefore it's bound states are heavier and things will always decay to a state with lower energy if they have the chance (remember E=mc^2 so heavier things have more energy).

The idea behind Stranglets is that the strange quark may actually form bound states that are energetically favourable, but that these states take a lot of energy to form (actually ripping the current bound states appart and re-arranging them is hard, but once you do it the state has lower energy). So RHIC might have a high enough energy to form them at which point they would start converting evreything they touch into stranglet including big particle accelerators, planets etc..

This idea just seems to be plain wrong. The calculation that the idea is based on is dubious, and as mentioned previously, if such energetically favourable states *could* be formed it's hard to see why they haven't already be formed as cosmic rays interact with the upper atmosphere.

So, there you go, I'm almost 99% certain that RHIC won't destroy the planet. What more could you ask for?

Re:Low probability and no evidence (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622538)

Even if the Earth became a black hole, there would be evidence of humans having existed. Earth would be a black hole with the same gravitational pull as it has now, just no size and an accessible event horizon.

It would be a black hole with a moon and satelites, some of them artificial.

Given that the collapse of the Earth into a black hole would involve the conversion of perhaps 50% of the total mass into energy in the accretion disk, all the artificial satellites would probably evaporate. And with the combined effects of the radiation evaporating the surface layers (producing thrust) and the loss of gravitational pull, if the Moon did not just vanish it might well achieve escape velocity and go sailing around on its own. I should run the numbers, but I'm tired.
--
Deja Moo: The feeling that

Re:Monkey Science (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622539)


It just occurred to me some nitpicker might infer I confused synthesis/analysis, rather then having put them in the wrong order (for that comparison).

I hadn't.

Re:Life is a quantum crapshoot... (2)

jafac (1449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622550)

no hero scientist.
a six-year old girl with an iMac.

"The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."

Re:Someone really smart may be able to answer this (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622551)

AFAIK, only really small black holes radiate enough to have a significant effect (and evaporate completely). I've not heard of an upper limit on the size of a black hole, and speculation is that the centers of galaxies are humongous black holes with the mass of large numbers of stars.

According to that scenario, our solar system could end up inside such a black hole eventually, as our orbit around the black hole at the core of our galaxy deteriorates...

Someone call Gary North! (2)

alehmann (50545) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622552)

He would LOVE this. Since his doomsday predictions have failed (consistant with all of his other predictions), he can now predict widespread economic collapse becuase of a black hole.

(Don't get it? http://www.garynorth.com [graynorth.com]

There's a funny commentary at http://www.garysouth.com [garysouth.com] , and another supposedly at http://garynorth.shadowscape.net [shadowscape.net] , which appears to be down now :(. )

Re:Alright...what is "strange matter"? (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622553)

. . . but why can't this "strange matter" get it's shit together and start acting like normal matter?

"The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."

The Right To Know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622554)

THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING !!!!!!!!!!
THE SKY IS FALLING ......
that's what sells, isn't it?

Idiocies like this one come out into the open every few years. There is a problem with understanding probability and statistics which is not taught in general education but which is used by a lot of poorly educated journalists.

In somewhat the same style I cannot exclude with certainty that a brick cannot spontaneusly rise upwards due to the addition of brownian motion velocities of all particles in the brick. I can say that the probability of such event occuring is so small that one must wait longer than the age of universe for such event to occure, but that would be omitted in an ABC News article. ABC news is particularly infamous as science is concerned (and not just in physics). They promote pseudoscience and pure hockum and I am sure that they claim that its "the public right to know" that gives them the licence to be uneducated.

In this particular case, there is no well understood theory, so an honest scientific answer is of course that "we cannot be sure". However, these type of collisions of Earth matter with high energy cosmic rays happen quite frequently and we still exist. I am not a solipsist so on the basis of observation of my existance I can assure you that nothing will happen at Brookhaven except the frustration of quite a lot of people who will have to try and explain this to the money giving politicians (who are even less educated than journalists).

Black holes (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622555)

... when something could produce a black hole, shouldn't we be REALLY sure that it can't first?
The Schwarzchild radius of a black hole is given by the equation Rs = 2GM/c^2. Now G is a mighty small number, the mass M of 2 gold atoms is less than 1e-22 kilograms, and 1/c^2 is a pretty small number too (about 1e-17 in MKS units). The upshot is that a black hole with the mass of 2 gold atoms would be much, much smaller than a proton. The atoms are too wide to get all of the mass into a space that small during a collision.
Actually, I've read that black holes under a certain size evaporate. Steven Hawking too I believe.
Yup. You'd get a pretty good energy flash from the decay, and then it would be gone.
Another note, if creating the conditions of the beginning of the universe creates black holes, shouldn't the universe be littered with the things by now? We've just recently (couple of years) found a black hole.
Astrophysicists have been finding evidence of things that couldn't be much else for years (things in galactic cores, whose influence on surrounding objects shows they have masses of a million suns and more), but given that a black hole doesn't radiate or do anything in and of itself other than pull on things it's difficult to prove that the object is truly a black hole and not something else. Every galaxy seems to have a big one in the center.

What was theorized that we might see left over from the Big Bang is quantum black holes, of a few million or billion tons (the mass of a big iceberg or small asteroid). So far there is no evidence for their existence.
--
Deja Moo: The feeling that

Logical fallacy. (4)

DHartung (13689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622556)

mister attack says:
The idea that we are going to destroy the world with the RHIC is absolutely ridiculous. I remember reading that a large number of physicists thought the first nuclear weapon would ignite the atmosphere, destroying all life on Earth. Didn't happen.

This is a logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc. Just because we haven't destroyed the earth in the past doesn't mean we can't do it.

Now we have a _journalist_ - not even a Ph.D. in physics - claiming that we're going to create a black hole with the RHIC.

Ad hominem. In fact, objections have been raised within the scientific community. They have been taken seriously enough to be reviewed by the laboratory [bnl.gov] . They disagreed, of course.

This is a remote possibility, to say the least - collisions at much higher energy than this happen in our upper atmosphere daily without destroying us. But assuming for a moment that a black hole is created, what happens? The answer is simple: it will evaporate.

At last a real argument. I happen to agree with you in principle; I'm not going to lose sleep over these experiments. But I don't think that going around shouting "rubbish!" at people is the way to make your point. There are valid scientific questions to be raised here, and while the field of high-energy physics may be dominated by people who believe it's perfectly safe, the objections do not come from left field. It may not be this experiment, but I would not rule out the possibility that in the near future we could devise experiments that would be capable of creating (say) a microscopic black hole.

I'd be more worried about ballistic nukes from China.

Most people should worry about a) heart disease, b) lung cancer, and c) an auto accident, in roughly that order. Since we all know that very few people give those very real dangers any thought at all ....

No, I don't believe RHIC is going to kill us all. But can we indeed come up with an experimental device that could? Most certainly. And human history is filled with enough follies by people who "know what they're doing" (say, Challenger) that I don't put all my trust in the intelligentsia here. The only safeguard is an atmosphere of collegiality where objections such as the one raised against RHIC are treated seriously and given due consideration in a peer review process.

That has happened, and has completed. It's only afterwards that the media really got hold of the story, and as they always do, they report it as if it were two equally valid political positions. Don't give in to the hysteria by treating all such objections with contempt.
----
Lake Effect [wwa.com] , a weblog

"strange matter" (2)

DHartung (13689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622557)

Recalling that normal matter is made up of atomic particles, which themselves are composed of subparticles (quarks and leptons). Quarks summarized here [lbl.gov] . "Strange matter" is simply matter that is made up mainly of the quark with the flavor "strange" (the name comes from the strangeness of their long lifetimes compared with other known particles).

It holds a relationship to normal matter something akin to antimatter's, although it is not antimatter (there is "normal" strange matter and "antimatter" strange matter). Basically, it looks like normal matter but isn't made up of the same kinds of subparticles. I think that strange matter in general is nowhere near as stable as normal matter.
----
Lake Effect [wwa.com] , a weblog

Re:already happened? (2)

Johnny Vector (93021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622559)

To the best of my understanding, this statement is false.

No, it's true.

They are not claiming that these conditions haven't existed since the big bang. (That would be absurd.) This will simply be the first time such conditions have been recreated in a lab.

Please, reread the bit about cosmic rays. Every day the earth is bombarded by millions (I'm way underestimating here) of cosmic ray particles so energetic that they laugh heartily at the feeble attempts of Brookhaven to match them.

When we do it in a lab, we can be there to watch. But as far as the earth is concerned, it is very old hat indeed.

Gravity is still related to mass, so is momentum (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622560)

"Now a stable orbit isn't likely to form from a black hole created in the described manner. So, when enough mass is accumulated, the elliptical orbit will toss this thing far enough into space that the Sun's gravity will get ahold of it. In which case it would begin eating the Sun, and anything else in its orbit. The same process would likely happen there, and eventually it would be tossed out of our solar system, to go eat Alpha Centari or something else. Of course it may just eat everything, but it would still take a while."
So what you're saying is, the black hole will eventually swallow up the earth and have the mass of the earth, and some previously unidentified force will mysteriously fling earth's mass from it's current orbit? This violates both conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. Even if a black hole did form, it would be as someone has already described: A black hole with the same mass and momentum as earth. So no consequences would extend beyond our planet.

Gravity is still related to mass, so is momentum (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622562)

"Now a stable orbit isn't likely to form from a black hole created in the described manner. So, when enough mass is accumulated, the elliptical orbit will toss this thing far enough into space that the Sun's gravity will get ahold of it. In which case it would begin eating the Sun, and anything else in its orbit. The same process would likely happen there, and eventually it would be tossed out of our solar system, to go eat Alpha Centari or something else. Of course it may just eat everything, but it would still take a while."
So what you're saying is, the black hole will eventually swallow up the earth and have the mass of the earth, and some previously unidentified force will mysteriously fling earth's mass from its current orbit? This violates both conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. Even if a black hole did form, it would be as someone has already described: A black hole with the same mass and momentum as earth. So no consequences would extend beyond our planet.

Forever Peace (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622569)

Anyone who has a more than passing interest in this story and is a fan of science fiction owes it to [him|her]self to check out Forever Peace [amazon.com] , by Joe Haldeman. For those of you who read Forever War, the author says that it's a continuation, of sorts, of the issues he raised in the first book, though not a sequel in the strict sense.

One of the two central plot devices (you'll excuse the pun) in the book is the construction of a particle accelerator near Jupiter capable of recreating the Big Bang.

warning label (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622570)

"Warning: Use of this produce can cause space time to eat itself"

Grandpa speaks out... (3)

skelly (38870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622571)

In my day, we didn't have particle accelerators. We had to tickle the dragon's tail with lumps of radioactive uranium isotpes. AND WE LIKED IT!
These confounded kids today with their theory of evolution, beowulf clusters, open-source operating systems. MAMBY PAMBY! HUH! In my day, Mr. Watson told us there was a world market for four or five computers and we liked it.

Well, I don't think that the world is gonna end thanks to that darn Scooby Doo and those darn meddlin' kids.

Good journalism (2)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622574)


It's nice to see a sensible article responding to all too common poorly researched media rubbish.

The sad thing is that it seems people would rather buy sensationalist fiction than (IMHO interesting)
facts. Papers only report what their buyers want
to hear.

I think experimental physics is interesting enough without wildly claiming we're going to risk the
universe every few months. (I expect we'll *really* get onto that kind of dangerous stuff in a decade or two)

!!! (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622576)

Who cares about the big bang? What I want to know is what happens when they smash clueons and bogons together? What do you get - the element MadScientistium?

--

certainty and artificial black holes (1)

Stephen VanDahm (88206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622577)

I remember reading that there was a ridiculously teeny tiny insignificant chance that something horrible would occur, but no one could prove with absolute certainty for certain that it wouldn't occur. But by the same token, you be absolutely certain that the world wasn't created in 1976 and that all of history and all of people's memories were falsified to test our faith in Storkilious, True Lord of the Universe (TM).

There comes a point where "certainty" is just a topic of academic debate for metaphysicians and logicians.

However, consider what would happen if you really could create a black hole. The Army would immediately take it, hide it away and use it as a new weapon of mass destruction. Assuming, of course, there was a way to target and limit it's power, you could just drop a black-hole bomb on China or something.

Is something like this theoretically possible?

Take care,

Steve

Who are the Authors of that Piece? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622579)

I'd be interested in knowing if the authors of that piece have any connection to the Long Island facility or stand to gain any direct benefit from supporting the story that there is no realistic risk.

Personally, I agree with them, in my limited knowledge of particle physics, especially about the idea that collisions of this type and energy (and MUCH higher energy) happen frequently in nature, but I would feel much more comfortable if this was from a truly independant source.

The nagging question is: What if it DOES happen rarely in the uncontrolled collisions of cosmic rays in nature. How would we ever know that a world had been destroyed by conversion to strange matter or converted into a black hole? Sure there is a lot of catastrophic, random badness that happens in the universe, but is such an accident any MORE likely to happen in a controlled environment?

There is just something far to elegant about the idea that this type of experiment is just the reason there are no signs of intelligent life in the universe...

Holy! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622581)

I wonder what a beowulf of black holes would do?

Question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622587)

If this will cause the universe to reboot itself, will it be courteous enough to flash me a Blue Screen of Death(tm) first, staying 'Fatal Error - Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to reset'. If so, no biggie, I get it everyday. All is well...

Re:Someone really smart may be able to answer this (1)

Shadowlion (18254) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622588)

I'm not really smart ('on par,' maybe), but I maybe can field this one.

Black holes, contrary to popular myth, actually do radiate. This involves virtual particle pairs and all sorts of crazy logic, and if you really want to read up on it you can email me for some accessible-to-the-layperson titles. Further, they don't attract matter to them anymore than a object of equal gravitational strength, so they aren't a universal vaccuum cleaner, more like a bottomless pit. So it's more of a passive "suck" then an active one, and you can orbit a black hole just like any other gravitational object of equal mass (rephrased, if you replaced the Earth with a black hole of equal mass, the moon and all the satellites would continue to orbit in exactly the same place they are now).

At any rate, black holes will only grow if they consume more matter than they radiate. As they radiate, the event horizon shrinks. So it's a sort of balancing act for the black hole. If the black hole doesn't balance it's consumption, it will either grow or shrink. If it's shrinking, it's mass - and therefore gravitational influence - dissipates, albeit slowly. Eventually, when it gets down to a critical size, it will explode in a burst of energy.

*poof!*

Re:Low probability and no evidence (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622589)

An alien visit to this system would be interesting.

"Commander, we have found several artificial space probes in and near this system, constructed by what appears to be an intelligent species."

"yes, but where is the homeworld, did they develop FTL technology and leave?"

"no, we believe that the secondary, the black hole, is too small to be naturally formed, and it's trajectory, calculated retroactively indicates that it is the origin point for the space probes."

"then. . ."

"yes, another one bites the dust."

"damn, why don't these primatives LEARN what not to mess with?"

"The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."

Re:Rubbish! (1)

Gromer (9058) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622590)

Interesting historical note:

You're right, nobody was really holding their breath when that first bomb was tested (or rather they were, but not because they were afraid of destroying the planet (at least not right then)). On the other hand, the first tests on Bikini atoll, which got a substantial amount of publicity, had a lot of people holding their breath. Not informed people, to be sure, but people nonetheless. A rumor got started that a new sort of superbomb was being tested which would activate a runaway chain-reaction that would destroy the planet. As you said, didn't happen. The resulting mood of impending doom, however, was credited with lowering inhibitions and leading to the sucess of the Bikini swimsuit, which came out around that time and was named after the atoll.

Re:Art Bell guest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622591)

They would have to answer to God.

Re:Rubbish! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622592)

Never mind but it was not just a journalist only and they considered the whole thing. Regarding black holes and stuff, it is all much theory. No-one really knows. It is always easy to laugh or react with arrogance, but science has to consider even remote risks.

The thing is that often people laughed with dire results later. Thinking it through is the right way to go and the right way to come nearer to what is the truth and they did it right.

Re:Someone really smart may be able to answer this (1)

Fooster (100239) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622594)

I have a theory. We're already being sucked into a massive black hole at the center of the universe. Due to time dilation effects, we don't notice this, but it does appear as if the rest of the universe is accelerating away from us.

Re:Art Bell guest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622596)

There is no God asshole.

Re:Art Bell guest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622597)

Yes there is.

Re:Art Bell guest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622600)

No there isn't.

First post of relative worth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622607)

I'm always for experiments, but when something could produce a black hole, shouldn't we be REALLY sure that it can't first? Actually, I've read that black holes under a certain size evaporate. Steven Hawking too I believe. Another note, if creating the conditions of the beginning of the universe creates black holes, shouldn't the universe be littered with the things by now? We've just recently (couple of years) found a black hole.

Re:Segfault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622608)

yeah, just look for natalie portman's.....

Hmm, that's odd... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622609)

Perhaps the most astonishing feature of physics is the way that it ties together seemingly disparate phenomena at widely different scales. The same laws govern the big and the small and everything in between, and looking at one scale, we can learn something about another.
I thought that the General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics weren't unified as of yet. This author seems to want to calm our worries, but making statements that are outright errata doesn't help his credibility, or my feelings of security that anyone other than the experimenters themselves really knows what they're doing.

My life will end in 52d:5h:22min... (3)

zenith-imperium (52720) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622610)


Personally, I almost wish a black hole would sweep down from that big bad particle accelerator and wipe out earth, just so we could stop having to read these ignorant doomsayers (Fred Moody) predict the end of the world....how's that for recursive irony? :)

Re:Holy! (1)

tak amalak (55584) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622611)

It'll make a big Black hole.
--

wrong (0)

emmons (94632) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622612)

Looks like you're second.

-----

Re:Holy! (1)

spiral (42436) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622613)

>I wonder what a beowulf of black holes would do?

Don't even bother thinking about it. It would *really* suck.


(sorry...I couldn't resist)

Re:Forever Peace (2)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622614)

Ever since I first heard this story, I've suspected that it was a rumor that came from an urban legend inadvertantly started by Forever Peace.

Good book, too, though not as good as Forever War.

Re:Who are the Authors of that Piece? (1)

Necromncr (35589) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622615)

The byline at the end of the article said the two authors were theoretical physicists at Northeastern University.

Life is a quantum crapshoot... (2)

Jack William Bell (84469) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622636)

But you can be certain of one thing -- there will be a TV movie made within six months about a black hole created by clueless scientists that threatens to destroys the earth. Destroy, that is, until the hero scientist that no-one listened to comes up with a magic black hole plug...

Jack

Re:Holy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622637)

They would probably just sit there.

Shoot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622638)

I thought they were working on the Big Bong.

Rubbish! (4)

Mister Attack (95347) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622639)

The idea that we are going to destroy the world with the RHIC is absolutely ridiculous. I remember reading that a large number of physicists thought the first nuclear weapon would ignite the atmosphere, destroying all life on Earth. Didn't happen. Now we have a _journalist_ - not even a Ph.D. in physics - claiming that we're going to create a black hole with the RHIC. This is a remote possibility, to say the least - collisions at much higher energy than this happen in our upper atmosphere daily without destroying us. But assuming for a moment that a black hole is created, what happens? The answer is simple: it will evaporate. Black holes lose mass constantly (a consequence of quantum mechanics). A black hole of the size that would be created by two gold ions colliding would be gone in a matter of microseconds, if I remember my astro course correctly. What's more, the Swarzschild radius would be so tiny, and the densities in the ion beam so low, that there is only a probability on the order of 1E-35 that another ion would fall past the event horizon before said event horizon disappears. In short, we have nothing to worry about. At least not from RHIC. I'd be more worried about ballistic nukes from China.

Re:certainty and artificial black holes (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622640)

Yes, it is. You need to generate a VERY high energy density, though - it's something like the total energy output from a hydrogen bomb in three cubic centimeters. You'd probably get something just as destructive, for any military purposes, by using the hydrogen bomb.

A -much- more devastating weapon would be created if there was an effective way to tunnel, in a controlled manner. Link two quantum-scale wormholes together, get one into the target area and inflate the tunnel. Whatever you lobbed through the tunnel would arrive at the other mouth of the wormhole, without apparently traversing any intermediate space. It would be impossible to shield against, and impossible to detect.

Monkey Science (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622641)

Ever notice that our science consists mostly of bashing things together or sticking things in other things. We've been doing this for tens of thousands of years now. Maybe it's time to start hunting for a new paradigm.

Re:life is like Slashdot! (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622642)

No, they're merely as uneducated as everybody else in quantum theory. Anyway, it does seem alittle strange that people keep thinking that a bunch of physicists are going to blow up the world. I'd trust a physicist over a politician claiming the 'end of the world' any day. Besides, it's the politician that's going to cause WWIII, not the physicist. . .

--
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