Since construction started on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, along the Swiss-French border, in 1998, there have been a lot of apocalyptic claims about the project, about how it would end up destroying the Earth by any number of means — cosmic rays, microscopic black holes, 'strangelets', 'vacuum bubbles', 'magnetic monopoles', a runaway fusion reaction in the carbon blocks the LHC uses as a 'beam dump' to absorb particles, or even what's known as a 'Bose-Nova' (not to be confused with Bossa Nova) being set off in the liquid helium the collider uses as a cooling system.
One of the more interesting ideas put out there was from two physicists, Holger Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya, who proposed an idea that some particles created by the LHC were going to be so "abhorrent to nature" that their discovery would cause a backward ripple through time to stop the collider from being finished.
Another 'time' related claim came from a man named Eloi Cole, who claimed he was from the future, and had traveled back to disrupt efforts to find the Higgs Boson. The reason for this? It wasn't because the discovery had devastated the planet... "The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone," he said. "It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I'm here to stop it ever happening."
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Well, I'm starting to wonder about this whole time travel idea after reading through two articles last night, both having to do with a German woman's court battle to have the LHC shut down.
An article from last week reported that the higher administrative court in Muenster, Germany had ruled that the Large Hadron Collider poses no danger to the Earth from a black hole. Referencing CERN's own safety reports about the LHC, the court said "Objectively, there is no evidence to doubt the correctness of these safety reports nor was any conclusive evidence presented." Another article, dated from March 9, 2010, with a curiously similar headline and subhead, stated that the Constitutional Court in the western Germany city of Karlsruhe had ruled against her because she was "unable to give a coherent account of how her fears would come about," and added "The overwhelming scientific opinion is that the experiments carried out at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) present no dangers."
Now, maybe this can be waived aside as just being the same woman, trying two different courts in her quest to have the LHC shut down. What if it's something more, though? Science fiction has told me several times that if you go back in time, events won't happen exactly like they did 'the first time', so that would account for the slight differences in the stories. If this woman is propagating back through time in roughly 31-month increments, she might succeed with her next attempt in court, since she'll suddenly turn up in a German court around October 2007, which is a little less than a year before the LHC's inaugural tests!
Okay, so that's a pretty far-fetched idea. I'll admit that. However, it's no more far-fetched than these other ideas about the LHC.
If the LHC actually posed a danger to the planet, the physicists involved in the program wouldn't risk it. They need this planet just as much as the rest of us, and they don't want to see it destroyed. Also, the LHC Safety Study Group report from 2003 specifically goes through the various ways that the LHC is supposed to destroy the planet, and it shows how they just aren't possible (a summary can be found at this link).
One major indication of just how it's impossible comes from the fact that the Earth is still here.
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If the LHC were capable of creating the effects that the doomsayers say it is, the cosmic rays that strike the Earth every day would have already been creating all those things naturally, and the Earth would have been swallowed up or turned to 'strange matter' goo a long time ago.
I think it's alright to be concerned about the planet. I certainly wouldn't like to see it get swallowed up by a black hole or turned to goo by strange matter. However, there are better, more real things to be concerned about, though.
Let the physicists have their toy, and let them poke at the universe a bit to see what it does. They aren't harming anyone, they're bound to discover even more cool things about the universe if we just let them go about their business, and their discoveries may even help us out with some of the other problems we're facing in the world.