Is the Large Hadronic Collider going to end the world by making black holes or strangelets?

Posted on April 11th, 2008 — permalink


13 Responses to “Is the Large Hadronic Collider going to end the world by making black holes or strangelets?”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Is there anybody who is seriously making that argument?

  2. CameronP Says:


    But I wouldn’t worry.

  3. rknop Says:

    There’s a full-on lawsuit :/

  4. The Giant Says:

    Did a BLACK HOLE really eat Clevland?

  5. All in All Says:

    Since Hawkins calls it “anything” which is a MUCH bigger set than infinite i think a science establishment poo poo of this guy is slightly disingenuous. IF singularity which is the source of anything is “constructed” then anything is not merely infinitely probable anything is inevitable. I think what this guy ( ) on his web site misses (as far as i have read anyway!) is singularity exists everywhere in the fractal multiverse and that means the singularity in abstract is no less singularity.
    So the chances of a catastrophe are slim? i want to know upon what evidence there is an extremely low chance considering we are told nuclear power is safe by scientists who appear to ignore the FACT there is no such thing as a closed system.
    The chances of a melt down are what exactly? and how many people over a thousand year period are killed by the fall out? (Remember the number of casualties only ever increases)
    Perhaps the science establishment needs to wake up to rogue elements within its franchise ranks at the same time as they point their dirty fingers at easy targets.
    Oh and by the way let us not forget that all science is fiction until it becomes “fact”… (note the inverted commas, change is inevitable)
    Saying something which is extremely remotely dangerous is safe is hardly science fact is it !
    Be careful how you unfold your universe…

  6. rknop Says:

    Some things are worth poo-pooing, and this is one of them…..

    Comparing this to the safety of nuclear power doesn’t make any sense. The failure modes of a nuclear reactor are all well-established physics that we understand the science of. The safety of a nuclear reactor is in the domain of engineering.

    The “dangers” that are being proposed for the LHC are on the basis of fundamental particle physics, and are quite simply malarky.

  7. Ethan Siegel Says:

    The thing is, we have much higher energy reactions than what will go on at the LHC all the time! LHC energies will get up to 1013 electron-volts, but cosmic rays can typically get up to about 1020 electron-volts, and they don’t do any of the catastrophic things people worry about.

    It’s possible that something terrible will happen at very high energies, but we’re talking about things that are a loooong way off in the future.

  8. rknop Says:

    Ethan — very true.

    Here’s a question: how long will the LHC have to run until the number of events in the LHC will equal the total number of similar energy events that have happened in the Earth’s atmosphere over the last 4.5 billion years?

    Do you know?

  9. Jason Says:

    All in All: are you seriously worried about a subatomic black hole eating up the earth? Black holes aren’t vacuum cleaners, they don’t suck things in. They work via gravity due to mass. How big do you think the event horizon of a black hole with such tiny mass would be? Now, given that the subatomic world is largely empty space, how many hundreds of years do you think a black hole of that size would have to drift around before it actually came in contact with a single atom and ingested a small fraction of the mass of that atom?

  10. rknop Says:

    Well, the real truth is that subatmoic black holes would evaporate very quickly. And, on the subatomic level, the “black holes” aren’t really quite the same thing as the macroscopic black holes of astronomy. I don’t understand all the details, but a subatomic black hole isn’t something to worry about.

    If, however, you could manage to create a tiny black hole — not a subatomic one, but just a small one — and drop it, it would fall into the Earth and orbit around, slowing down as it consumed the mass it crossed and eventually settling at the center of the Earth. No, it wouldn’t suck stuff in, but moving through the Earth there would be plenty of things for it to run into. It would slow down because it was gaining mass, and the mass it was gaining would be at rest with respect to the Earth. (Well, it’s a bit complicated because the Earth’s rotation means that there are going to be Coriolis-type forces and such, but whatever.) This would tend to muck up the stability of the Earth. I don’t know that it would ever manage to eat the whole Earth, but it would cause quite a bit of havok.

  11. Infinity Linden Says:

    (keep in mind I only went through four years of physics study, and haven’t looked at this stuff in a while, but..)

    What I remember is that singularities have a tendency to evaporate… something about virtual particles escaping the event horizon. Nano-scale black holes (thought think we’re talking more about pico-scale here) would evaporate before they could suck too much more matter/energy in. Or at least that’s what I remember our conclusion was when we chatted about this with our Prof one day in an effort to get him to stop yammering about d’alembersians.

    So an interesting, related question might be.. assuming conditions similar to the center of the earth (like the thing falls down there after being created) how massive would a singularity need to be so the flow of matter falling into it is larger than virtual energy flowing out of it?

  12. Ethan Siegel Says:


    I couldn’t figure out an easy way to answer your question, but I went and answered a different one, about what it would take to actually destroy the Universe, and it turns out that it’s pretty neat!


  13. Lewis Perdue Says:

    only in one of the infinite variations, permutations, combinations and perturbations of the multiverse.