I'm just slightly worried about the world's biggest and most expensive
($8 Billion) machine, will soon be up and running outside Geneva (the
project itself is called CERN). There's a very good chance it will
yield enormous scientific discoveries, and a very, very, very small
chance it will destroy the planet.
It's called LHC, or Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest high-
energy particle collider. Among other things, when it starts slamming
steams of protons into other protons at near the speed of light it's
expected to answer questions scientists have until now had only
theoretical answers for, and that's the problem. Nobody knows for sure
exactly what will happen. Remember, some scientists thought there was
a chance the first Atomic tests would vaporize the Earth's atmosphere,
didn't happen.but nobody knew for sure until they pressed the button.
Among the things scientists say might to be created in the LHC
experiments are mini-black holes. In Space, big black-holes suck mass
inside them, you know.planets, stars, solar systems.things like that.
Physicists at CERN say these tiny black holes, if they're created at
all will quickly evaporate and I'm sure they're right. But those big
Black Holes in Space, didn't they start out as tiny Black Holes?
Couldn't a tiny little black hole, suck in a little dust, then some
paper, a scientist's pen, then a scientist, then the LHC, then the
planet? OK, OK.I know that's silly, after all, my mind locks up every
time I get halfway through Steven Hawkin's "A Brief History of Time"
and these guys at CERN are the best physicists in the world, Nobel-
prize winners among them.
But. a couple of other pretty bright guys in Hawaii have filed suit,
saying essentially that even a small risk of planetary suicide is too
great a risk. They want a restraining order on LHC research until we
know more about the slight, but decidedly earth-shattering (one of the
few times that world isn't overused) possibilities.
All this reminds me of a car ride a few years ago with my nephew Jack,
who was just a child at the time. His father was explaining the comet
that was visible in the nighttime sky. "What if it hits us", Jack
said. My brother answered "Don't worry, the scientists say it'll miss
us my a million miles". Jack looked up at the sky quietly for a moment
and then said "They could be wrong you know". Exactly.