Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Large Hadron Collider

The large hadron* collider (LHC) is due to begin operation this month in Geneva, Switzerland. Located on the Swiss-French border at the world's largest particle physics laboratory named the European Organization for Nuclear Research (abbreviated to CERN, the out-dated acronym is still used today but initially it stood for European Council for Nuclear Research), the LHC was built in a circular tunnel with a circumference of 27 km and is situated 50-175 m underground. Loosely speaking, the LHC is a particle accelerator or an atom smasher. In layman’s terms, the LHC consists of two beams of particles which travel in opposite directions in a vacuum and are accelerated close to 99.99% of speed of light at high energies. The orbits of these particles are controlled by strong magnetic fields created by 9300 magnets (to be precise) which are cooled to temperatures as low as -271 degrees Celsius. The magnets tightly control the orbits of the particle beams right up to collision which takes place at four places (particle detectors) around the accelerator ring. It is estimated that approximately 600 million collisions will take place every second! The LHC was designed to answer some of the fundamental and unresolved questions in particle physics such as the origin and composition of mass; the composition of dark matter and dark energy; what happened immediately after the big bang; and the existence of other dimensions.

*A hadron is a strongly interacting subatomic particle

(1) http://lhc.web.cern.ch/lhc
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadron
(4) http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/LHC/HowLHC-en.html


Anonymous said...

LHCConcerns.com will pay $500.00 US to the best proposal that can reasonably prove 5% or less Risk of Planetary destruction from Micro Black Holes.

The contest will conclude in a vote by site visitors on all reasonable proofs received, all proofs will be published and the contest will end not sooner than May 20th. (LHCConcerns will make the final call on best proposal that reasonably proves 5% or lower risk from micro black holes being created by the Large Hadron Collider).

You may prove that ANY ONE of the following or provide any other reasonable Proof or method to prevent Micro Black Holes from being created by the Large Hadron Collider or prove that they are harmless!

1. The Large Hadron Collider will not make micro black holes.
2. Micro black holes created will be sent safely into space.
3. Micro black holes will evaporate.
4. Micro black holes will take more than 2 billion years to accrete the Earth. (If you can only prove a lesser time frame, then the prize will be reduced proportionately...)
5. Any form of cosmic ray argument that proves 5% risk or lower.
6. Find a way to make the Large Hadron Collider safe from creating micro black holes (we already requested different speed collissions or different mass collisions, LSAG told us it was not possible, they already thought of it).

It is harder than it looks, the LHC Safety Assessment Group (LSAG) could not produce a safety report... (CERN and LSAG are still using the 1999 RHIC safety report that does not even address what might happen if micro black holes were created, because they did not know that it was possible at that time. We are also being generous on the 2 billion years, we want to be reasonable)


J A G U A R I T O said...

Haha, what the hell was that last dude on about? How wierd! Scientress, wow, you are so multi-talented.. not only a medical researcher, but also well-versed in physics! I miss you!

Anonymous said...

Has any information been release about the status of the promised LHC Safety Assessment Group study?

I would like to know that before micro black holes may be created at a rate of up to 1 per second, that a rigorously peer reviewed safety study will be published in reputable physics journals and appropriate time will be given for reasonable peer review based on the possible consequences to the entire current and future populations of Earth.

I read the 1999 RHIC safety study, and it did not contain any statements as to the safety of actually creating micro black holes on Earth. It did not address issues of micro black hole stability, it did not address Hawking Radiation, it did not address capture rates by Earth’s gravity and it did not address Earth accretion times.

Will this be done before collisions begin at the Large Hadron Collider, currently predicted for as soon as Mid-August 2008?

Thank you,

KittyMeow said...

What?? Mini black holes? Come on. I am no scientist but something about that rings to me of BS.

Please Scientress, if this sci-fi idea has any measure of truth to it, can you explain it in laymans terms?

And don't we already have a bunch of atom smashers already operating and no black holes yet?

Someone has been reading too much Dan Simmons IMHO. ;-)

The Afro Scientress said...

Hi KittyMeow,

To answer your question, yes, there are other atom smashers in operation and no known problems to date (or at least ones that I have heard about). In fact, the first atom smasher was built and came into operation in the early 1900s.
I have briefly summarised the following from reading the arguments made by each side (LHC concerns website vs. the pro-LHC website):

The Pro-LHC website argues that atom smashers re-create the naturally occurring cosmic rays which are produced in outer space. They state that the earth’s atmosphere has been subjected to these rays for the last 4.5 billion years and have much greater levels of energy compared to the energy that would be produced by the LHC. Therefore if the earth is able to withstand these rays then there would be minimal harm produced by the LHC itself. In regard to microscopic black holes, the LHC website states that since large black holes exist, microscopic black holes would also be naturally present which, like the cosmic rays, have not harmed the universe (1).

On the other hand, the LHC concerns website argues that unlike previous atom smashers, the LHC in Cern, is able to generate much greater total energy levels which could possibly create a black hole. In addition, the opinion amongst most physicists is that black holes evaporate so quickly after creation that they would not have time to engulf matter and therefore be harmless. This is based on the argument made by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and is known as Hawking’s radiation. The LHC concerns website dispute this theory based on one paper by Adam D. Helfer. As Hawking's radiation is based on theory, the concerns of the LHC concerns website are also based on theory (2).

In my opinion, I don’t think you can conclusively say anything about anything until it has occurred. The statements made by LHC concerns remind me of the the claims made prior to Y2K ie. crashing computer systems. Anyhow, I don’t think I am in any position to comment on the arguments made by either side because it is very much outside my scope. I guess we will have to wait and see.

1) http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/LHC/Safety-en.html

2) http://www.lhcconcerns.com

KittyMeow said...

Thanks for clearing that up. I agree with you about not knowing anything til something happens. We could speculate forever if we wanted to!

Personally I think the LHC is an exciting step forward for scientific research. :-D

Jim Purdy said...

I've Got Einstein on my Mind
by Jim Purdy

Listen to me one and all, Oh dear,
For bad news I bring, The End is Near.

In the UK, the Daily Mail tried to clue us in,
That those mad scientists are going to do us in.

Yes indeed, they have published a news article
Warning us of a runaway sub-atomic particle.

The Large Hadron Collider is to blame,
And our universe will soon end in flame.

Oh man, the fireworks will be spectacular,
It'll be so big, I won't need my binocular.

As the end nears, some may grieve and mourn,
But I'll enjoy the show, just eating my popcorn.

Someday I'll entertain grandkids with the story I'll tell,
Oh. Wait. I guess I won't have any grandkids, oh well.

In college, we laughed at those physics dorks,
Always talking about their tachyons and quarks.

Yes, soon the world will be gone, we'll be no more,
Thanks to guys named Fermi, Heisenberg and Bohr.

So, as I await the end of all mankind,
I've got Albert Einstein on my mind.

The Afro Scientress said...

Thanks for posting the poem Jim. I guess we will see what happens with the LHC over the next 24 hours.