01 October
2008

The Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to have it's first actual particle collisions soon, as opposed to just being "warmed up".

[ I wrote this article a while back, and had it cached until collision time. I didn't expect, and the time, that the LHC would get so much coverage. ]

From the LHC web site:

There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe.

There are some people who believe that is a particle accelerator that will be able to create small black holes. This would be truly microscopic and not the same as Einstein black holes (they would be much smaller than a neutron).

These black holes should evaporate quickly and be no threat, although there is a minority of people who fear it could destroy the world if the black holes persist. The seems unlikely since cosmic rays have as much energy as the LHC beams, and they haven't destroyed the earth yet. On the other hand, cosmic rays have very high velocities while the LHC could produce occasional low velocity black holes. Thus, this does not appear to be a very credible threat. More importantly, there are other cosmological arguments to suggest such non-evaporating black holes cannot exist. On the other other hand, it should be a good excuse for an end-of-the-world party. There's another end-of-the world mechanism as well, based on strangelets made of special quark matter, but it too seems to be ruled out and I don't have the stamina to explain it.

With respect to data processing, the LHC is supposed to produce 15 petabytes of data per year (i.e. (15 thousand terabytes -- 15,000 trillion). The entire Google index of the web, in comparison, has processed one trillion links as of mid 2008 and index a far smaller number (according to the Google blog).

Live picture. CMS construction at Point 5. Click to enlarge and refresh.

The full story on why the LHC is considered safe can be found
at the CERN web site itself.


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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