London, March 29 : Experts have claimed that the fears expressed by campaigners in the US about the world's most powerful particle smasher posing a threat to the planet, do not hold any ground.
According to a report in New Scientist, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is nearing completion at CERN, the European centre for particle physics near Geneva, Switzerland.
The collider will simulate conditions less than a billionth of a second after the big bang, by smashing protons together at enormous energies. Physicists hope to resolve long-standing questions, such as why particles have mass and whether space has hidden extra dimensions.
But, Luis Sancho and Walter Wagner, residents of Hawaii, filed a lawsuit against CERN and US contributors to the project demanding that they do not operate the LHC until they prove it is safe.
They fear that the LHC could create particles that gobble up the Earth, such as "killer strangelets"
Strangelets are hypothetical blobs of matter containing "strange" quarks, as well as the usual "up" and "down" types that make up ordinary matter.
If a strangelet were stable and negatively charged, it might begin eating the nuclei of ordinary matter, converting them into strange matter. Eventually, the menacing chain reaction could assimilate our entire planet and everyone on it.
They claim that the LHC could also spawn dangerous particles or mini black holes that will destroy the entire Earth.
But, a 2003 safety review for the LHC found "no basis for any conceivable threat".
It acknowledged that there's a small chance the accelerator could create short-lived, mini black holes or exotic "magnetic monopoles" that destroy protons in ordinary atoms. But it concluded that neither scenario could lead to disaster.
According to James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN, the lawsuit's claims are "complete nonsense".
"Much higher energy collisions than those at the LHC frequently occur in nature, because cosmic ray particles zip around our galaxy at close to the speed of light. The moon has undergone such collisions for 5 billion years without being devoured by a ravenous black hole or killer strangelet," he said.
"The LHC will start up this year, and it will produce all sorts of exciting new physics and knowledge about the universe," said Gillies, adding that, "A year from now, the world will still be here."