Scientists Not So Sure 'Doomsday Machine' Won't Destroy World
Tuesday , January 27, 2009

Still worried that the Large Hadron Collider will create a black hole that
will destroy the Earth when it's finally switched on this summer?

Um, well, you may have a point.

Three physicists have reexamined the math surrounding the creation of
microscopic black holes in the Switzerland-based LHC, the world's largest
particle collider, and determined that they won't simply evaporate in a
millisecond as had previously been predicted.

Rather, Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and Sergio
Fabi and Benjamin Harms of the University of Alabama say mini black holes
could exist for much longer - perhaps even more than a second, a relative
eternity in particle colliders, where most objects decay much faster.

Under such long-lived conditions, it becomes a race between how fast a black
hole can decay - and how fast it can gobble up matter to grow bigger and
prevent itself from decaying.

Casadio, Fabi and Harms think the black hole would lose out, and pass
through the Earth or out of the atmosphere before it got to be a problem.

"We conclude that ... the growth of black holes to catastrophic size does
not seem possible. Nonetheless, it remains true that the expected decay
times are much longer (and possibly >> 1 second) than is typically predicted
by other models," the three state in a brief paper posted at the scientific
discussion Web site can think of a few other things that didn't seem possible once -
the theory of continental drift, the fact that rocks fall from the sky, the
notion that the Earth revolves around the sun, the idea that scientists
could be horribly wrong.

We're also wondering how often the LHC might create individual black holes,
since longer-lived ones have a greater chance of merging with each other,
and, um, well, see ya.

If the worst comes to pass, and there's now a slightly greater chance that
it might, at least it might explain why we've never heard from
extraterrestrial civilizations: Maybe they built Large Hadron Colliders of
their own.

.. Click here to read a brief synopsis of the paper at blog.

.. Click here to download the paper itself (it's only 8 pages) in a variety
of file formats.