Particle smashing begins again at CERN; nothing to fear

FOX19 -

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will be firing up their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) again next week. The LHC, the world’s largest machine (17 miles in circumference), is used to rapidly accelerate particles and then smash them together at close to the speed of light in order to better understand particle physics and our universe as a whole. 

Recall that in 2012, the use of this machine led to the discovery of the Higgs boson or “God particle”, the long theorized key component to particle physics. CERN hopes to better understand the Higgs boson and perhaps make some new discoveries with this latest run of the LHC. 

When complicated science and incredibly powerful machines get together, the conspiracy theorists come out. Some are calling for the end of times next week when the LHC is turned on, claiming that the machine could create a massive black hole that would destroy the earth. 

The major problem with this theory is that it’s old. This first came about before the LHC was turned on for the first time in September 2008. The machine has since been run many times without any incident. CERN acknowledges that their experiments could result in the creation of black holes, but not the type we typically think of. 
The collision of protons could create what are known as quantum black holes. These have never been observed, but have been theorized. If one of these tiny black holes was to form though, it would be harmless. Why? If they do exist, quantum black holes have already occurred. Proton collisions occur naturally all the time when cosmic rays strike the earth’s atmosphere. We’re still here, so there is clearly no threat from man-made collisions, which actually are much lower energy than a natural collision. 

Don’t be afraid of the LHC. Be thankful that we now have the ability to better understand the world around us! 




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