SCIENTISTS are trying to stop the most powerful experiment ever – saying the black holes it will create could destroy the world. Dubbed by some the Doomsday test, it will be carried out next week in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located 300ft underground near the French-Swiss border. The machine is 17 miles long and cost £4.4billion to create.
When its switch is pulled on September 10, this atom-smasher will become a virtual time machine, revealing what happened when the universe came into existence 14 billion years ago. New particles of matter are expected to be discovered, new dimensions found beyond the four known, as scientists re-create conditions in the first BILLIONTHS of a second after the Big Bang. Experts even predict that millions of tiny black holes will be produced — baby brothers of the monsters gobbling up dust and stars at the heart of the galaxies.
That is why boffins are now trying to stop the project with a last-ditch challenge in the courts. They fear the LHC experimenters are tinkering with the unknown and putting mankind — and our whole planet — at risk. The group responsible for the experiment, the European Nuclear Research Centre (CERN), says that these mini black holes will vanish as quickly as they are created. But anti-CERN the brigade accuse the scientists of playing God, warning that no one can guarantee that the black holes will not survive, rapidly growing in size to suck the Earth out of existence in an instant.
But don't panic just yet. The people at CERN say there is nothing to worry about:
Nature forms black holes when certain stars, much larger than our Sun, collapse on themselves at the end of their lives. They concentrate a very large amount of matter in a very small space. Speculations about microscopic black holes at the LHC refer to particles produced in the collisions of pairs of protons, each of which has an energy comparable to that of a mosquito in flight. Astronomical black holes are much heavier than anything that could be produced at the LHC.I don't know what the truth is. Will this experiment form stable Black Holes? CERN say not, but then again, this is the first time it's been tried.
According to the well-established properties of gravity, described by Einstein’s relativity, it is impossible for microscopic black holes to be produced at the LHC. There are, however, some speculative theories that predict the production of such particles at the LHC. All these theories predict that these particles would disintegrate immediately. Black holes, therefore, would have no time to start accreting matter and to cause macroscopic effects.
If you have anything important to do before September 10th, it may be a good idea to start now.