The Large Hadron Collider Destroys The World

The Large Hadron Collider:  How many Hadrons do we need?


Big-ass particle colliders play a role in a lot of these science-destroys-the-world theories — the fear is that since these things try to create energies not seen anywhere in the universe since the big bang, we could inadvertently trigger some sort of exotic physics-y thing that could run out of control.  And the LHC is the big daddy of them all.  Despite the fact that it’s so fragile that it got taken out by a bird dropping a piece of bread (true story), the LHC has been accused of no less than five separate ways to destroy the planet:
     Create tiny black holes.  It could be that high-energy particle collisions will create tiny adorable microscopic black holes (somehow).  Ideally, they’d evaporate (somehow), but might cause some trouble if they don’t.  One of the very few physicists who think there could be danger is Dr. Otto Rossler, a chaos theorist in Germany, thinks such a black hole could swallow the entire earth.  He’s argued down by the rest of mainstream physics, however.  He doesn’t help his cause by having one of his interviews posted online after obviously being machine-translated from the original German in hilarious fashion.  He’s probably sane and perfectly lucid, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when you read excerpts like this:

(interviewer):   Could you introduce yourselves please briefly?

(Dr. Rossler):    One is always unsymathisch itself.  I have several identities.  I saw no character scientific. I make everything and am responsible therefore for nothing.”

I’m sure this sounded perfectly reasonable in German, but it’s fun to think of him sounding like this in person.  I’m trying to stay sympathisch to his cause, but it’s hard…

Create strange matter (aka strangelets, which was a hilarious book by Rich Hall), which in turn converts all other matter around it to strange matter, in a runaway chain reaction that destroys us all.  This makes the black-hole theory look rock solid in comparison — at the very least, we’re pretty sure that there is such a thing as a “black hole”.

Vacuum instability — Dr. Martin Rees has suggested that the supercollider could trigger something called a “phase change” in space around Earth, altering possibly the laws of physics.  There’s lots of talk of “phase transitions” and “phase changes” in advanced physics these days — if you’re ever confronted by a theoretical physicist, throw some “phase change of the vacuum” jargon at him for distraction and make your escape.  If it reminds you of water changing “phase” to ice or steam from your chemistry classes long ago, that’s good, because that’s the same idea.  Just imagine that instead of water / ice / steam, you have all of space and time in the universe, and instead of changing from solid to liquid to gas, you have the very laws of physics changing.  If our universe is in some kind of unstable state, any perturbation could cause an abrupt change to a more stable state, kind of like superheated water from a microwave abruptly boiling when you drop your tea bag into the cup.  Simple, eh?  You can pick up your PhD at the back of the room when you leave.

Opens up wormholes, through which evil aliens could jump and kill us.  Don’t leave the back door open!  I’m not going to bother explaining this, since you saw Stargate, right?

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