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Large Hadron Collider Sparks 'Doomsday' Lawsuit

Zonk posted about 6 years ago | from the this-looks-like-a-job-for-superman dept.

The Courts 731

smooth wombat writes "In what can only be considered a bizarre court case, a former nuclear safety officer and others are suing the U.S. Department of Energy, Fermilab, the National Science Foundation and CERN to stop the use of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) until its safety is reassessed. The plaintiffs cite three possible 'doomsday' scenarios which might occur if the LHC becomes operational: the creation of microscopic black holes which would grow and swallow matter, the creation of strangelets which, if they touch other matter, would convert that matter into strangelets or the creation of magnetic monopoles which could start a chain reaction and convert atoms to other forms of matter. CERN will hold a public open house meeting on April 6 with word having been spread to some researchers to be prepared to answer questions on microscopic black holes and strangelets if asked."

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John Titor (1, Funny)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 6 years ago | (#22887456)

OMG! John Titor's story [wikipedia.org] is true!

Re:John Titor (4, Funny)

MouseR (3264) | about 6 years ago | (#22887726)

WOuldn't it suck to discover that, in the end, Hawking is just some lame robot sent from the futur to enlighten us?

Futur Scientist 1: "We should send back a robot!"
Futur Scientist 2: "Hrm. it'll take years to develop a convincing one!"
Futur Scientist 3: "Let's get to it!!"
Futur Janitor: "Hey... why dont you make him look like a crip? You could then use that IBM 5100 chip on the floor as a voice box."
Futur Scientists: "Smart ass".

Fascinating (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887464)

Read that as "Large Hardon Collider...", scared me a little

WTF? (2, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | about 6 years ago | (#22887470)

the creation of microscopic black holes which would grow and swallow matter

Are they serious? They make it sound like a Pandora's Box that could destroy the whole planet, or solar system.

The rest of it just sounds so bizarre it's unreal. The fact that it is people on the inside saying it is somewhat concerning. I don't even know what to think, but those "headlines" are truly spectacular.

Re:WTF? (5, Funny)

Spacepup (695354) | about 6 years ago | (#22887538)

I guess it's just the kid in me, but now I want it turned on even more just to see what will really happen.

Maybe they should schedual the first start for one of the predicted end dates ala the Mayans and Egyptans. The Hadron collider builders should also play "It's the End of the World as We Know It" by REM the day it starts.

Re:WTF? (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 6 years ago | (#22887790)

Maybe they should schedual the first start for one of the predicted end dates ala the Mayans and Egyptans.

I want to see them turn it on too, but that's tempting fate a bit much maybe? So to make sure they can't accidentally cause the Mayan predictions to come true, they'll deliberately activate the machine several days before the end of the Mayan calendar.

Only once they turn it on, as it's powering up, they'll get a phone call from an anthropologist who will tell them that he just discovered that the previous calculations as to the start of the calendar were wrong, and it is in fact THAT VERY DAY that the calendar ends! Oh bitter irony, when your attempt to avoid the prophecy causes it to come true!

Re:WTF? (1, Troll)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 6 years ago | (#22887596)

Apparently they are unaware of Hawking radiation.... or they are religious nut jobs who are predisposed to not believing in science.

Re:WTF? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887794)

Or they're reasonably aware of the fact that Hawking radiation is currently unproven. Not saying they're right, but I don't tihnk that's a fair rebuttal is all

Re:WTF? (0, Flamebait)

stratjakt (596332) | about 6 years ago | (#22887846)

Who mods this tripe up?

Any dissenting opinion is a "religious idiot".

The fact is, nobody is sure what will happen. That's why they're building it.

Due diligence w.r.t safety seems prudent to me, this lawsuit seeks to make that process transparent to the rest of us.

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

wass (72082) | about 6 years ago | (#22887704)

A nuclear safety officer is hardly on the 'inside of' the LHC team.

The article didn't go into the scientific backgrounds of the guys involved, but the job requirements of being a nuclear safety officer is hardly any prerequisite to being able to in any way accurately understanding the quantum chromodynamics, or even quantized general relativity (which nobody can do yet), etc involved in the LHC.

This would be like an airport luggage screener making claims about the aerodynamical stability of a fighter aircraft, or an electrician who can wire up a new 110 AC outlet in your house making claims about transistor-level details of the latest Intel CPU.

While it's possible they might be experts in highly technical fields hugely beyond their job descriptions, it's fairly unlikely.

This doesn't mean that their concerns are necessarily invalid, but they shouldn't be given any more credibility than other non-members of the LHC team.

Re:WTF? (5, Funny)

Valiss (463641) | about 6 years ago | (#22887844)

but the job requirements of being a nuclear safety officer is hardly any prerequisite to being able to in any way accurately understanding the quantum chromodynamics, or even quantized general relativity

No kidding. Have you seen the safety inspector in section 7G?

Re:WTF? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887850)

". . . or an electrician who can wire up a new 110 AC outlet in your house making claims about transistor-level details of the latest Intel CPU."

Uh . . . yo. I'm actually pretty well versed in both of those worlds. That's a bad example. There's lots of us. Transistors aren't that complex and if you read the news you can keep up with the details of the newest variations kinda easily. But working in a job that used my EE background would suck compared to actually doing stuff.

Re:WTF? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 6 years ago | (#22887910)

It's kinda like when they were worried that setting off a nuclear bomb could ignite the atmosphere. Still, nothing wrong with assessing its safety, I certainly don't think they're joking.. still a few days til April 1st :P


i_liek_turtles (1110703) | about 6 years ago | (#22887474)

Captain Zapp Brannigan: We'll just set a new course for that empty region over there, near that blackish, holeish thing.

Anyone else read the title as... (0, Redundant)

RagingFuryBlack (956453) | about 6 years ago | (#22887476)

Large "Hardon" Collider Sparks 'Doomsday' Lawsuit ? I was gonna say, must have been a pretty big woody.

Huge! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887584)

My eyes always see it as Large Hardon Collider"

Is the radiation making me ghey?

ha ha ha oh wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887482)

I think they're more afraid it will create dinosaurs.

half life (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887486)

portal storms incoming?

Are they serious? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 6 years ago | (#22887494)

The things that they've said they are concerned about sound like science fiction fare. Is there any real evidence that these issues are actually founded in anything more substantial than overactive imaginations?

Re:Are they serious? (4, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | about 6 years ago | (#22887550)

The microscopic black hole thing is passably plausible, although any such tiny black holes are far more likely to evaporate almost instantly than launch into a positive feedback state.

    The magnetic monopole creation is almost surely complete bunk, as (so far as I know) no one has ever detected signs of such a thing (nor is anyone certain that such a beast can exist). On the other hand, Dirac showed that the existence of even a single magnetic monopole, somewhere in the universe might explain charge quantization. The converse, however, may not hold.

How could a tiny black hole ... (4, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | about 6 years ago | (#22887834)

How could a tiny black hole engender a positive feedback loop? I'm not even speaking of Hawking's radiation here; but how would a few g big blackhole do anything? Its mass being tiny, it's not going to have much gravity at all, so it's not going to attract anything to grow. At most will behave like a heavy particle. Big black holes suck up stuff because their gravity overcomes all other forces, but here that can't be the case.
Clearly, they have mistaken the catchy name for the definition.

"a few micrograms" (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | about 6 years ago | (#22887874)

I meant to write "a few micrograms", but this braindead pice of shit slashdot can't parse UTF-8 for mu god damn it.

Re:Are they serious? (1)

Lisandro (799651) | about 6 years ago | (#22887900)

Yes. It has been stated that the chances for these events to happen are extremely slim since we have much more energetic collisions taking place as we speak in Earth's atmosphere, but the possibility is there [wikipedia.org] . I don't really know about the implications of the existence of magnetic monopoles [wikipedia.org] , but they are predicted in most modern physical models, yet to this day no one has been able to detect one.

Not this again... (3, Insightful)

Ethan Allison (904983) | about 6 years ago | (#22887496)

I smell FUD. It says in the article that most scientists dismiss the whole doomsday machine theory.

Re:Not this again... (5, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 years ago | (#22887580)

The reason they're doing the experiment is because they don't know what will happen.

Any scientists who say that they know one way or another what will happen are not scientists at all.

Scientific experiments that aren't surrounded by uncertainty and doubt are not much use in removing uncertainty, are they?

Re:Not this again... (1)

bjorniac (836863) | about 6 years ago | (#22887722)

Yes, we don't know what will happen. But we have a pretty good idea - in fact a few of them, hence the need for an experiment to distinguish between them. However, we do know that there won't be a 'doomsday' event.

It's as simple as this: x3. You don't know x, but you know it's not 25.

The idea that we have to be 'surrounded by uncertainty and doubt' is dubious at best. We really want to have one or two unknown things and find them. Having uncertainty in many variables is terrible, as your experiment probably won't determine all of them.

Physicists have models for what will happen, and this will be very good at distinguishing between the models we have. Maybe it'll prove them all wrong, but what the lawsuit is demanding is that we don't drop a ball from 3m up after 1m and 2m in case it turns into a sheep on the way down.

Re:Not this again... (3, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | about 6 years ago | (#22887858)

Scientific experiments that aren't surrounded by uncertainty and doubt are not much use in removing uncertainty, are they?
Well, that's the UD of FUD, but this whole episode centers really around the F.

While the whole point of any experiment is to generally know the unknown, to clarify the doubt, there are still expected ranges of outcomes. For example, while you might not know what will happen if you feed your adult dog Puppy Chow, you can be fairly confident it's not going to turn him into a cat.

Likewise, while the people at CERN may not know if they'll get mini black holes, they can be fairly sure the sorts of dangers they pose, which are "none".

My understanding of the LHC is that it doesn't do anything that doesn't already happen on Earth already. The main difference is that instead of the mini black holes being created by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere where we can't study them, they are happening right inside of a controlled scientific device, which is the ideal place to study them.

Am I to believe that the energies and particles involved are beyond what happens on/in the sun, or when the Earth is bombarded by radiation from space, or inside of an H-bomb explosion? If so, that's quite amazing.

Most scientists? (0, Troll)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 6 years ago | (#22887734)

But in the 80s, most scientists dismissed global warming.

(I'm not making the case for the end of the world; I'd have to learn the math and get evil lackeys.)

Hawking Radiation (5, Insightful)

thesilverfox06 (999188) | about 6 years ago | (#22887512)

So what if it creates microscopic black holes? They'd dissipate in a fraction of a second. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation [wikipedia.org]

Phew, I was worried for a minute but, hey---- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887656)

if a wikipedia entry says they're safe, that's good enough for me. The one truth in the universe is that everything in wikipedia is 100% iron-clad correct.

Re:Phew, I was worried for a minute but, hey---- (5, Insightful)

thesilverfox06 (999188) | about 6 years ago | (#22887710)

Well then it's a good thing I didn't get my information FROM Wikipedia, but instead just linked to it since it's a convenient resource and the information contained on that article agrees with my previous knowledge of Hawking Radiation.

Re:Hawking Radiation (2, Funny)

bugnuts (94678) | about 6 years ago | (#22887866)

So what if it creates microscopic black holes?
Microscopic black holes are actually the cause of networ


Re:Hawking Radiation (0, Troll)

hasdikarlsam (414514) | about 6 years ago | (#22887896)

While you're probably right, it's worth noting that there is both (a) some doubt about the nature of gravity at small scales and high gradients, and (b) considerably more doubt about whether the hawking effect is at all real.

Hawking radiation is, after all, based on the intersection of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Not the best demonstrated, or even defined, part of science.

The sky is falling again (1)

Butisol (994224) | about 6 years ago | (#22887516)

And the only way to stop it is to detonate a nuclear bomb and scorch off our atmosphere...

Particles get accelerated in solar wind of Sun (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887518)

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/solarsystem/2006_mag_recon.html [nasa.gov]

I havent seen any massive blackholes emerge and gobble up the sun or solar system. How the hell would the puny LHC be able to do it?

The jerks suing are just trying to make a name for themselves.

tards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887520)

They went over *that* before they started building the thing. The LHC isn't going to do anything that hasn't been happening in the upper atmosphere for billions of years. We can't hope to make anything like the Oh My God particle (that one had as much kinetic energy as a thrown tennis ball in a single particle).

Until we can do something that nature isn't doing all the time, we don't need to worry about anything happening that hasn't already happened.

Hold on... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887524)

Hold on, haven't we been bombarded by even higher energy particles from space for billions of years now without us, or for that matter the world (as in the rest of all visible matter) turning into a black hole?

Re:Hold on... (1)

eggfoolr (999317) | about 6 years ago | (#22887750)

In the time scale of the universe, it could happen any moment.

In fact it may have happened many times over. We are just living in the particular parallel universe that it has not happened in... yet.

This is ludicrous... (1)

nebaz (453974) | about 6 years ago | (#22887528)

This is like suing a medium doing a seance because it might let loose a demon on the world. Let's hope in this instance the court actually listens to the science involved.

They forgot one... (5, Funny)

supabeast! (84658) | about 6 years ago | (#22887530)

What happens if an escaping convict accidentally wanders into the collider, gains super powers, and tries to take over the world?

Re:They forgot one... (5, Funny)

IthnkImParanoid (410494) | about 6 years ago | (#22887666)

Obviously one of the scientists will have wandered into the collider as well. Although his or her superpowers will not be as powerful/deadly/cool as the convict's, their determination, faith in humankind, and good heart will allow them to narrowly win in the end, no matter how badly the odds look to be stacked against them.

They will still have a hard time getting laid, though.

Well if this did happen... (1)

The Ancients (626689) | about 6 years ago | (#22887544)

...they wouldn't be around to complain about it, so what's the issue?

Of course it means we'd all die without actually seeing Duke Nukem Forever (DNF - hmm...)

Re:Well if this did happen... (2, Funny)

BigJClark (1226554) | about 6 years ago | (#22887894)

oh, man, I hate to be the one to tell you, but we're all going to die without seeing DNF regardless.... sorry :(

ICE-9 anyone? (5, Interesting)

hguorbray (967940) | about 6 years ago | (#22887570)

Well -they were afraid when they detonated the first above ground nuke as well -thought they might torch the atmosphere, but they did it anyway -better dead than.......?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat's_Cradle [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice-nine [wikipedia.org]

I'm just sayin'

Re:ICE-9 anyone? (5, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about 6 years ago | (#22887622)

"Well -they were afraid when they detonated the first above ground nuke as well -thought they might torch the atmosphere..."

And so it turned out that nuclear explosions were perfectly safe after all. :D

The plaintiffs are proof . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887572)

that strangelets already are infecting the planet. We should take this seriously and stop the threat now. Begin with passing a law that prohibits miniture blackholes, strangelets and other earth threatening things, then we will be protected by the law.

Bunch of whiners (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 6 years ago | (#22887576)

We finally come up with a solution that will stop the Iraq war once and for all, and now they are trying to stop it. Do these people love war or something?

idiots! (5, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 6 years ago | (#22887578)

there's never any attempt at understanding the physics of any of this, it's just a nice way to scare people who don't know any better. never mind the fact that cosmic rays hit the atmosphere all the time with at least the amount of energy the LHC is going for- you'd think that over billions of years if there was ever a time for strangelets and blackholes to kill us all it would have happened by now.

Re:idiots! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887642)

Why don't you read the wikipedia article about the issue first? Your objection is noted and dismissed.

Oh wait, we don't actually read information here. We just spout off to show our ignorance of the matter at hand...

Re:idiots! (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 6 years ago | (#22887746)

you mean this?:

The cosmic-ray argument has been applied to the black-hole and strangelet scenarios as well. If such dangerous things can be created, why haven't they already eaten up Earth, along with other planets, stars or whole galaxies in the billions of years since the universe arose? To answer that question, Sancho and Wagner pose a counterargument: Perhaps cosmic-ray collisions really are creating tiny black holes or strangelets, but those little bits of doomsday zip by too fast to cause any trouble. In the LHC, they say, the bad stuff could hang around long enough to be captured by Earth's gravity and set off a catastrophe.
I've got a counter-counter argument for you: consider the number of cosmic ray hits over billions of years. it would stand to reason that some of them would be in the range of the LHC and would not in fact zip right on by- they would in fact be just as likely to be "captured" as anything produced in the LHC. then there's the fact that a lot of the cosmic ray particles can't zip right on through even at higher energies- there's 8,000 miles of rock and metal between them and the other side if they hit right. if blackholes, monopoles and strangelets are producable and dangerous at these energies, they would have done us in a long time ago because there would be at least a few that wouldn't escape over such a long time span.

Re:idiots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887902)

Not to mention that, while they're waiting for the accelerator to turn on, the physicists working on the detectors portions (CMS, ATLAS, etc) are already recording cosmic ray interactions to test their systems. Here's a cute article about it:

http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000574 [symmetrymagazine.org]

Re:idiots! (1)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | about 6 years ago | (#22887768)

In computers we have "laws" that we call the "system interface". It can behave predictably and reliably for years under all sorts of conditions, but then once somebody comes along and really starts purposefully really messing with it occasionally something completely unexpected happens. Sometimes the whole system panics even though no theory or math could predict that.

Just because your physics says something 'can't happen' and that the 'exact same stuff' has been going on for eons with no problem does not mean that once you start purposefully messing with it that something bad will not happen. It's just that simple. And if we already knew exactly what was going to happen, we wouldn't need to do the experiments in the first place.

doomsday machine could be a feature not a bug (5, Insightful)

EjectButton (618561) | about 6 years ago | (#22887594)

I think we can all agree that even if it does end the world it would be an even greater crime to build a machine that big and then not turn it on. I would rather be converted into strangelets than living in THAT world.

Re:doomsday machine could be a feature not a bug (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 6 years ago | (#22887644)

even if it does end the world it would be an even greater crime to build a machine that big and then not turn it on.
he he... glad you see it that way. better to be destroyed trying to learn something new than live forever in a state of perpetual ignorance.

FUD (1)

negated (981743) | about 6 years ago | (#22887600)

I work in the building where the LHC is housed and I can tell you that there is no danger at all. Seriously, this is just a bunch of fear, uncerta

Wirking machine (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | about 6 years ago | (#22887612)

If it works but does nothing like the worriers claim, then it will be a great success. If it works but does everything that the worriers claim, then nobody will have to worry about paying lawyer fees.

Exploring the unknown (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 6 years ago | (#22887618)

A nice percent of what we know didnt come from calculating that something should happen and that it happens actually, but from where something happens when it "shouldnt". Are we killing the experimental method here?

Re:Exploring the unknown (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887716)

I understand that there are higher energy collisions taking place on the moon. Though I don't have anything to reference it with right now.

Not On My Planet, Please! (1)

Cassander (251642) | about 6 years ago | (#22887638)

Can we have the "suddenoutbreakofcommonsense" tag? I've been concerned about the effects of building larger and larger supercolliders on my planet for years now. The whole point of building these things and playing with them is that WE DON'T KNOW exactly what's going to happen when we fire them up, and we learn a lot when we do. I'm all for research, but could we at least stick these things out in space where they are less likely to destroy the entire planet when something unexpected happens? (How about one of the earth-sun LaGrange points? Or maybe Mars is more practical?) Am I the only person that thinks that replicating conditions from the first couple nanoseconds of the universe on the surface of our only planet without actually knowing what's going to happen first is a bad thing? Frankly I think we've been lucky so far, and we need to stop playing Russian Roulette without even knowing the rules.

Re:Not On My Planet, Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887820)

Frankly, your screenname should have been Cassandra.

Or maybe Polyanna.

Re:Not On My Planet, Please! (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | about 6 years ago | (#22887854)

We have higher energy collisions with our atmosphere all the time due to particles coming in from outside of our solar system and hitting us. If something bad was really going to happen at these energies, it would have done so by now.

Re:Not On My Planet, Please! (1)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#22887876)

Also, don't climb that hill over there, you might find out what is on the other side, and it might be dangerous.

It's certainly possible that the entire physics community is wrong or engaged in a giant conspiracy to destroy us all, but it isn't all that likely, and the fun part is that it is just as much their planet as it is your planet.

(I wonder if the risk of dying while crossing the street is greater than the risk of destroying the planet, not because the outcomes are comparable, but because you are thinking about one a lot more than the other, and the ramifications for you are about the same)

Some story different era (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 6 years ago | (#22887640)

When Columbus left to accidentally find a new continent, he was sure to sail off the edge of the world. Or come back with unearthly monsters chasing him down. Where are all the zombie-apocalypse theories? Or the gate-to-hell theories we normally see related to this stuff in games, books and movies?

Re:Some story different era (1)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#22887832)

Don't use Columbus as an example. Vikings had been making the trip for a while, and there is decent reason to believe that shipbuilders were coming over to snag masts before Columbus made his voyage, and so on:

http://www.google.com/search?q=pre+columbian+atlantic+crossings [google.com]

He didn't have any notion that he was going to sail off the edge of the world either.

Not on a production system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887646)

I can't count the number of times I've made a code change that I thought was completely safe, only to have something go wrong. It's the whole reason why enterprise type system have upgrade plans, and changes are first tried on an test system -- just in case.

In IT terms, our planet is a production system, and pushing the limits and testing the API's fault tolerance on the one system that absolutely must keep running correctly is a bad idea. Just like upgrading some random userspace daemon should not ever panic the operating system, there's no way to know that we won't trigger something that all our math and physics says should be impossible.

We don't know everything about physics, and so we should not be doing these experiments on a live production system... we should do them on a test system, like the moon for instance.

I want to thank those people (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | about 6 years ago | (#22887664)

for giving me something interesting to look up.
However - to prevent them from spontaneously mutating into something horrible - I suggest we shoot them now. By their own reasoning they should commit suicide to save the world.

they might use it to give helicopters cancer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887674)

(see today's xkcd to understand ;-)

Nothing will happen, fears are unfounded (3, Interesting)

diewlasing (1126425) | about 6 years ago | (#22887684)

Just to preface this; I'm a 3ed year undergrad student in physics on track to get a PhD in high energy physics. That being said, I spoke with my professor about this, he explained to me that the formation of world swallowing black holes is so small is negligible. He explained to me (if I remember correctly) that high energy cosmic rays have been bombarding the Earth for billions of years, at much higher energies than the LHC could ever produce. If these world-ending things were to form they would have already, long before humans were around and we wouldn't be here to study these fascinating phenomenon.

I'm gonna sing the doom song now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887696)

Doom doom do-doom doom do-doom doom doom! Doom doom doom! Doom! Doom doom doom doom doom doom doom doom! Doom doom dooooom! Dooom! Doom do-doom doom do-doom doom do-do-doom doom! Doom doom doom! Doom! Doom do-doom doom do-doom. Doomy doomy doomy doom! Doom! Doom dee-doom doom dee-doom doom! Doomy doomy doomy doom! Doom doom do-doom! Doom dee-doom doom dee-doom! Doom doom doom! The end.

Tinfoil hats (3, Funny)

OSU ChemE (974181) | about 6 years ago | (#22887700)

Will they be distributing them at the open house meeting? Perhaps that will calm those worried about the doomsday scenarios.

Could this explain the lack of ETs? (5, Funny)

RobinH (124750) | about 6 years ago | (#22887702)

Could this explain why we haven't found the universe teeming with extra terrestrial life? Every civilization becomes more and more advanced, then starts doing more and more powerful experiments, and thinks, "the chance of destroying our planet is really slight... we're perfectly safe going ahead with this." Then, poof!

Their Own Damn Fault (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 6 years ago | (#22887706)

As you sow so shall you reap.

After reading the tenth or twentieth scientific article that interviewed people working on the LHC, that includes some wild speculation about remote possibilities that might come to pass when it comes online... this surprises me not at all. I understand being a bit sensationalist to make a more entertaining article. I understand hyping the potential a bit to help keep that government funding coming in. Still, black holes, strangelets, cascading subatomic events, time travelers finding the earliest point to return to... it was a bit much. Maybe you get promoted in experimental physics by making waves and smoking pot with the boss. The you want your name in a magazine so you spin some half-assed idea as though it was a real possibility. The only problem is, some people listened and are now worried.

This is why the Manhattan project was top-secret: two out of six physicists think it might destroy the planet... okay those are good odds, let's try it.

Ironically (0, Flamebait)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 years ago | (#22887712)

My Christian faith makes me just shrug this off, and say "go ahead" to the scientists. As a Protestant, I believe that the fate of mankind and the Earth is in God's hands, not our own, and that God would never allow His plan to be stopped by human efforts, including scientific experiments.

Part of what enabled the explosion of science in Christian Europe was Reformed Protestant theology. Reformed Protestants reject concepts like luck, chance and superstition on the theological grounds that the represent restrictions on God's sovereignty.

One note (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 years ago | (#22887744)

By rejection of luck and chance, I am referring to the Reformed belief that nothing happens randomly. It happens because God has either ordained it, or allowed it. There is nothing that fails to go through that review process.

Re:One note (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22887880)

So every time someone gets anally raped, it's under God's supervision?

Re:Ironically (1)

hobbit (5915) | about 6 years ago | (#22887812)

Perhaps God's plan is to wipe out all of mankind? He's done it before, you know. Well, okay, there was Noah. But who's to say that God hasn't arranged for someone to survive a black hole event? Well, okay, he did say he wouldn't do it again. But he might change his mind. He's done that before too, you know.

Vade retro, lawyers! (4, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 6 years ago | (#22887724)

Trial judges and lawyers shouldn't be allowed to dabble in scientific questions. Leave the deciding of risks to real scientists.

Last time a bunch of lawyers and politicians tried to legislate the value of pi [wikipedia.org] , they got 3.2.

Hasn't all this nonsense been said before? (2, Informative)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 6 years ago | (#22887728)

I remember hearing the same kind of dooms day predictions about RHIC at Brookhaven national labs. Also it was said that some scientists predicted the first atomic bomb would ignite the atmosphere destroying the planet. At any rate none of those doomsday predictions occurred and RHIC has been operating since 2000.

The sad thing is... (1)

Linus the Turbonerd (1138133) | about 6 years ago | (#22887786)

...the average person will see this, think "Oh, well, it's a nuclear safety officer making these claims", and completely buy the entire swath of drivel. Come on, people, it's only quantum mechanics, it's not that hard!

Or maybe.... (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | about 6 years ago | (#22887816)

...the high energy collisions will open a "bridge" into a parallel universe which will allow a malevolent, hive mind alien species to invade our universe from theirs, and assimilate the Earth, killing everyone.

Hey, it could happen [wikipedia.org] !

The Risk has Already been Assessed (5, Informative)

internic (453511) | about 6 years ago | (#22887862)

While this is the first I've heard of lawsuits, the subject of a possible catastrophe due to a new particle accelerator is not a new idea. This has actually been a cycle that's happened a couple of times, IIRC, usually when someone mentions the possibility of black holes (or even AdS-CFT black hole analogues) being created in a new particle accelerator. Scientists have actually thought about this and published a number of papers on the topic. Here are two that came up easily via Google Scholar:

The latter is freely available on the arXiv. From the conclusion:

We have shown that the relatively late formation time of Earth implies that life on our planet is highly unlikely to be annihilated by an exogenous catastrophes during the next 109 years. In the case of the doomsday scenar- ios studied in the Brookhaven report [2], our bound also applies to hypothetical anthropogenic disasters caused by high-energy particle accelerators (risks 1-3). This holds because the occurrence of exogenous catastrophes, e.g., resulting from cosmic ray collisions, places an upper bound on the frequency of their anthropogenic counter- parts.

In short, similar events occur naturally due to highly energetic cosmic rays, so, even if we assume we know almost nothing about the physics of the hypothetical catastrophic event, we can infer from teh fact we're still here that such a catastrophe is very unlikely. Based on this conclusion, and the fairly wide acceptance of that conclusion amongst experts, I think it's safe to say this lawsuit is without merit.

Yeah, I saw the movie ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 6 years ago | (#22887890)

The plaintiffs cite three possible 'doomsday' scenarios which might occur if the LHC becomes operational: the creation of microscopic black holes which would grow and swallow matter, the creation of strangelets which, if they touch other matter, would convert that matter into strangelets or the creation of magnetic monopoles which could start a chain reaction and convert atoms to other forms of matter.

It was a stupid flick with Adrian Paul and what's-her-name from Stargate SG-1 and a completely wasted Ben Kingsley. Netflix should have warned me how stupid it was.
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