Anxiety about the Large Hadron Collider — AKA the Doomsday Machine — may not have been over nothing after all.
Three physicists have reexamined the math surrounding the creation of microscopic black holes in the Switzerland-based LHC, the world’s largest particle collider, and determined that they won’t simply evaporate in a millisecond as had previously been predicted.
Rather, Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and Sergio Fabi and Benjamin Harms of the University of Alabama say mini black holes could exist for much longer — perhaps even more than a second, a relative eternity in particle colliders, where most objects decay much faster.
Under such long-lived conditions, it becomes a race between how fast a black hole can decay — and how fast it can gobble up matter to grow bigger and prevent itself from decaying.
While the authors say it’s “not possible” that a black hole created in the collider could swallow the Earth, I remind you that it was well-meaning scientists who inflicted Africanized honeybees on the rest of us. We’re dealing with theoretical physics here. They won’t really know until they actually create the first micro black hole.
If it begins to grow instead of decay… well, it’s not like there’s a hole extinguisher on hand in case of singularity.
So you have to wonder if the shutdown of the LHC after the initial test was really because of an electrical failure or because of something a bit more dire.