World's largest particle collider poses no danger to Earth, say scientists

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Washington, June 28 : Microscopic black holes that might possibly be produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is the world's largest particle collider, will not pose any danger to the planet, as they would have no effect of consequence.

This conclusion was arrived at by Steve Giddings, a UC (University of California) Santa Barbara Physics Professor, and Michelangelo Mangano of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Giddings' paper on the subject, titled "Astrophysical implications of hypothetical stable TeV-scale black holes," documents his study of the safety of microscopic black holes that might possibly be produced by the LHC, which is nearing completion in Europe.

The paper investigates hypothesized behavior of tiny black holes that might be created by high-energy collisions in the CERN particle accelerator.

According to Giddings, if they appear at all, these black holes would exist for about a nano-nano-nanosecond, adding that they would have no effect of consequence.

However, the paper studies whether there could be any large-scale effects in an extremely hypothetical situation where the black holes don't evaporate.

The Giddings/Mangano study concludes that such microscopic black holes would be harmless.

In fact, nature is continuously creating LHC-like collisions when much higher-energy cosmic rays collide with the Earth's atmosphere, with the Sun, and with other objects such as white dwarfs and neutron stars.

If such collisions posed a danger, the consequences for Earth or these astronomical objects would have become evident already, according to Giddings.

"The future health of our planet and the safety of its people are of paramount concern to us all," said Giddings.

"There were already very strong physics arguments that there is no risk from hypothetical micro black holes, and we've provided additional arguments ruling out risk even under very bizarre hypotheses," he added.

The LHC, near Geneva, Switzerland, is expected to begin operations this summer. It will collide proton beams at levels of energy never before produced in a particle accelerator.

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