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Old 03-29-2008, 08:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Asking a Judge to Save the World/Universe

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View: Asking a Judge to Save the World, or More
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Asking a Judge to Save the World, or More
March 29, 2008
Asking a Judge to Save the World, or More
By DENNIS OVERBYE
More fighting in Iraq. Somalia in chaos. People in this country can’t afford their mortgages and in some places now they can’t even afford rice.

None of this nor the rest of the grimness on the front page today will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth — and maybe the universe.

Scientists say that is very unlikely — though they have done some checking just to make sure.

The world’s physicists have spent 14 years and $8 billion building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.

But Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a “strangelet” that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called “strange matter.” Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Although it sounds bizarre, the case touches on a serious issue that has bothered scholars and scientists in recent years — namely how to estimate the risk of new groundbreaking experiments and who gets to decide whether or not to go ahead.

The lawsuit, filed March 21 in Federal District Court, in Honolulu, seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from proceeding with the accelerator until it has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment. It names the federal Department of Energy, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and CERN as defendants.

According to a spokesman for the Justice Department, which is representing the Department of Energy, a scheduling meeting has been set for June 16.

Why should CERN, an organization of European nations based in Switzerland, even show up in a Hawaiian courtroom?

In an interview, Mr. Wagner said, “I don’t know if they’re going to show up.” CERN would have to voluntarily submit to the court’s jurisdiction, he said, adding that he and Mr. Sancho could have sued in France or Switzerland, but to save expenses they had added CERN to the docket here. He claimed that a restraining order on Fermilab and the Energy Department, which helps to supply and maintain the accelerator’s massive superconducting magnets, would shut down the project anyway.

James Gillies, head of communications at CERN, said the laboratory as of yet had no comment on the suit. “It’s hard to see how a district court in Hawaii has jurisdiction over an intergovernmental organization in Europe,” Mr. Gillies said.

“There is nothing new to suggest that the L.H.C. is unsafe,” he said, adding that its safety had been confirmed by two reports, with a third on the way, and would be the subject of a discussion during an open house at the lab on April 6.

“Scientifically, we’re not hiding away,” he said.

But Mr. Wagner is not mollified. “They’ve got a lot of propaganda saying it’s safe,” he said in an interview, “but basically it’s propaganda.”

In an e-mail message, Mr. Wagner called the CERN safety review “fundamentally flawed” and said it had been initiated too late. The review process violates the European Commission’s standards for adhering to the “Precautionary Principle,” he wrote, “and has not been done by ‘arms length’ scientists.”

Physicists in and out of CERN say a variety of studies, including an official CERN report in 2003, have concluded there is no problem. But just to be sure, last year the anonymous Safety Assessment Group was set up to do the review again.

“The possibility that a black hole eats up the Earth is too serious a threat to leave it as a matter of argument among crackpots,” said Michelangelo Mangano, a CERN theorist who said he was part of the group. The others prefer to remain anonymous, Mr. Mangano said, for various reasons. Their report was due in January.

This is not the first time around for Mr. Wagner. He filed similar suits in 1999 and 2000 to prevent the Brookhaven National Laboratory from operating the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. That suit was dismissed in 2001. The collider, which smashes together gold ions in the hopes of creating what is called a “quark-gluon plasma,” has been operating without incident since 2000.

Mr. Wagner, who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, studied physics and did cosmic ray research at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a doctorate in law from what is now known as the University of Northern California in Sacramento. He subsequently worked as a radiation safety officer for the Veterans Administration.

Mr. Sancho, who describes himself as an author and researcher on time theory, lives in Spain, probably in Barcelona, Mr. Wagner said.

Doomsday fears have a long, if not distinguished, pedigree in the history of physics. At Los Alamos before the first nuclear bomb was tested, Emil Konopinski was given the job of calculating whether or not the explosion would set the atmosphere on fire.

The Large Hadron Collider is designed to fire up protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts before banging them together. Nothing, indeed, will happen in the CERN collider that does not happen 100,000 times a day from cosmic rays in the atmosphere, said Nima Arkani-Hamed, a particle theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

What is different, physicists admit, is that the fragments from cosmic rays will go shooting harmlessly through the Earth at nearly the speed of light, but anything created when the beams meet head-on in the collider will be born at rest relative to the laboratory and so will stick around and thus could create havoc.

The new worries are about black holes, which, according to some variants of string theory, could appear at the collider. That possibility, though a long shot, has been widely ballyhooed in many papers and popular articles in the last few years, but would they be dangerous?

According to a paper by the cosmologist Stephen Hawking in 1974, they would rapidly evaporate in a poof of radiation and elementary particles, and thus pose no threat. No one, though, has seen a black hole evaporate.

As a result, Mr. Wagner and Mr. Sancho contend in their complaint, black holes could really be stable, and a micro black hole created by the collider could grow, eventually swallowing the Earth.

But William Unruh, of the University of British Columbia, whose paper exploring the limits of Dr. Hawking’s radiation process was referenced on Mr. Wagner’s Web site, said they had missed his point. “Maybe physics really is so weird as to not have black holes evaporate,” he said. “But it would really, really have to be weird.”

Lisa Randall, a Harvard physicist whose work helped fuel the speculation about black holes at the collider, pointed out in a paper last year that black holes would probably not be produced at the collider after all, although other effects of so-called quantum gravity might appear.

As part of the safety assessment report, Dr. Mangano and Steve Giddings of the University of California, Santa Barbara, have been working intensely for the last few months on a paper exploring all the possibilities of these fearsome black holes. They think there are no problems but are reluctant to talk about their findings until they have been peer reviewed, Dr. Mangano said.

Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”
I'm not too familiar with what happens within the world of particle physics. I know that I've seen way too many TV shows and movies that depict apocolypse and armageddon because of such changes due to the flux capacitor being overmodulated.

What do you think of such scientific journeys and expenses? Do you find them to be overall beneficial to the world at large?

I definitely don't understand how a court in Hawaii has any jurisdiction or say in any matter for CERN. I think it not much different when my local Community Board #3, but more to do with the "awareness" that rb mentioned in another thread.

I have never been exactly sure just what the actual benefits of these scientific endeavors are. I know that they mean something and are positive studies, but I don't really know exactly what they produce as far as cause and effect.
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Old 03-29-2008, 09:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The above article sort of reminds me of the good old days when the King or the Courts or the Pope would imprison or put to death anybody who wanted to journey out to sea and risk falling off the edge of the earth, or suggest that the Earth was not the center of the universe ...I'm using some bad poetic license there to stretch my point.

I'm generally in favor of spending some significant resources on pushing the limits of our scientiifc knowledge. Hey, how long after 1493 would America have been discovered by Europeans if not for that; or understanding our solar system/universe; or the development of these stupid machines I'm typing ...errr I mean keyboarding... on now; or untold numbers of important medical breakthroughs; etc.

I'm also strongly in favor of responsible spending and allocation of our resources, so it seems to me we have a LOT of room for improvements in how we spend our money and better control spending of money we don't have; e.g. the war department, strange subsidies, narrow benefit niche economic bills, etc.
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Old 04-01-2008, 06:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If they do create a micro black hole, or a strangelet, it is my understanding that we would have a century (or more) to get our butts off the planet. If we can't pull our shit together in a century to colonize space as an alternative to complete obliteration, then we deserve complete obliteration.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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First of all, that article completely fails to address the possibility of gamma radiation. Dr. Bruce Banner was apparently not available for comment.

And secondly, there's only one judge I trust to save the world:



This post brought to you by the "Progress! Oh noes!" association.
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
I have never been exactly sure just what the actual benefits of these scientific endeavors are. I know that they mean something and are positive studies, but I don't really know exactly what they produce as far as cause and effect.
The LHC is just like any other technology. We use it, we learn from it. Learning is a noble pursuit in ts own right, but the next inevitable steps are to try to weaponize it and then to revolutionize the way we do something. Once we figured out that the atomic bomb worked and wouldn't end the world, we made a whole lot of them and started figuring out how to make energy without reducing air quality. I don't really see dark matter being weaponized for earth-based use, but it does have implications for a cheap energy source for interstellar travel .

The people who claim that this will release a strangelet or create a black hole are doing so out of ignorance. A strangelet would decay to its ground state before it could escape the containment field, and there it would interact with matter like any cosmic ray. At the energy level of the LHC, a black hole would evaporate before it could suck down more than a few atoms, and it would be completely contained within the accelerator ring.
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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From what I understand these form naturally on their own, its just impossible to predict and measure them.

I have to admit when I first heard of this it triggered alarm bells but then I did the research.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I am lead to believe that Mr. Wagner flunked out of physics and then pursued law, and this is the result of him watching too many episodes of Eureka.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
I'm not too familiar with what happens within the world of particle physics. I know that I've seen way too many TV shows and movies that depict apocolypse and armageddon because of such changes due to the flux capacitor being overmodulated.
I thought it was the oscillation over-thruster being improperly modulated with 1.22 Jiga-watts.

@BadNick:
My thoughts too. As an engineer, scientific progress gives me hope that a better world can be made.


@ Tophat665:
Amen.

@Martian:
Thank you!


@MSD:
We don't know what a strangelet would do. All heavy particles that we have created thus far have decayed into their base particles in a matter of microseconds, however if we create particles that are more stable than our own.. who knows? The Shadow knows... Muwhahahahaha!

Also, a black hole would not be bound by anything to stay in the "containment field" of the accelerator, because a black hole does not retain charge/magnetic properties (as far as I have read, I may withdraw this later). Any microscopic black hole would just fall into the Earth. Evaporation is just a theory (one I thought was proven 8 years ago in the Fermilab... must have been a different discussion I had in nerd club).


@Ustwo:
Don't worry. If Oh-My-God particles have collided with the Earth and we live, I don't think we need to worry about this. Yes the particles are being created at rest with the lab... but...
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Should we really believe that physicists have no motivation for self-preservation?

If the world is destroyed by any scientific research... well... that'd be pretty messed up.

This crackpot in Hawaii needs to talk to someone who can explain it all to him - from what the research is really about, to the proper petitioning procedures if he's still not satisfied.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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There was a fear in the 40s that a nuclear weapon could create a chain reaction that would be unending.

What we need is clear and verifiable evidence that this won't destroy the universe.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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eh, it's time to start over anyway..

let em build it.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:59 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I'd like to see them employ this experiment in DC please.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:02 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'd like to see them employ this experiment in DC please.
Just fyi, you're in the same universe as Washington DC.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Just fyi, you're in the same universe as Washington DC.
Knowing they were first by a millisecond or two though would be gratifying as I cross the event horizon.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:20 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Knowing they were first by a millisecond or two though would be gratifying as I cross the event horizon.
If the time distortions caused by the massive gravity are as radical as some physicists theorize, then it could be longer than a few milliseconds. Gotta love the warping of space/time!
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:31 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Damnit, I need to have a picture of Ogre from "Revenge of the Nerds" right now! I've got to learn to keep those things handy!
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:40 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Martian, that's just dreadful.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:55 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Just fyi, you're in the same universe as Washington DC.
I'm just outside the beltway, and even from here, that's not a particularly intuitive or obvious observation. I'd say that from inside the beltway it would sound flat out incorrect.

So I'd say put it in DC.

I believe it's impossible to prove that any given thing won't destroy the universe (though it's really the habitability of the planet that's at stake), and equally impossible to prove that DC is in the same universe as the rest of us.
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Old 04-02-2008, 02:30 PM   #18 (permalink)
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http://public.web.cern.ch/Public/en/LHC/Safety-en.html

It's a crackpot being an idiot. Really.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:10 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by willravel
If the time distortions caused by the massive gravity are as radical as some physicists theorize, then it could be longer than a few milliseconds. Gotta love the warping of space/time!
Meh, the outward rate of the gravitational pull will radiate at the speed of light, no question. We won't feel a thing. Just feel comforted that if we do create a black hole that sinks to the center of the earth and starts eating us up... there will be a small black hole that orbits the sun, with a radius of order of magnitude 10^-27-m... I am not too worried about that engulfing the universe as it can't!
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:20 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Martian, that's just dreadful.
Aww, you know you love it.

If this guy can't take CERN seriously enough to actually educate himself on the matter, then I refuse to take him seriously.

It's the 50 foot ants all over again.
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:30 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Also, a black hole would not be bound by anything to stay in the "containment field" of the accelerator, because a black hole does not retain charge/magnetic properties (as far as I have read, I may withdraw this later). Any microscopic black hole would just fall into the Earth. Evaporation is just a theory (one I thought was proven 8 years ago in the Fermilab... must have been a different discussion I had in nerd club).
OK, I got that half-wrong, but from the CERN site:
Quote:
If the LHC can produce microscopic black holes, cosmic rays of much higher energies would already have produced many more. Since the Earth is still here, there is no reason to believe that collisions inside the LHC are harmful.

Black holes lose matter through the emission of energy via a process discovered by Stephen Hawking. Any black hole that cannot attract matter, such as those that might be produced at the LHC, will shrink, evaporate and disappear. The smaller the black hole, the faster it vanishes. If microscopic black holes were to be found at the LHC, they would exist only for a fleeting moment. They would be so short-lived that the only way they could be detected would be by detecting the products of their decay.
and about strangelets:
Quote:
Strangelets are hypothetical small pieces of matter whose existence has never been proven. They would be made of 'strange quarks' – heavier and unstable relatives of the basic quarks that make up stable matter. Even if strangelets do exist, they would be unstable. Furthermore, their electromagnetic charge would repel normal matter, and instead of combining with stable substances they would simply decay. If strangelets were produced at the LHC, they would not wreak havoc. If they exist, they would already have been created by high-energy cosmic rays, with no harmful consequences.
Unjustified fears are easy to come by without research, but I would consider the fears about black holes and strangelets as unfounded as the claims that cell phones cause brain cancer.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:37 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:27 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MSD
Unjustified fears are easy to come by without research, but I would consider the fears about black holes and strangelets as unfounded as the claims that cell phones cause brain cancer.
Oh, I absolutely agree. However, one valid argument that still remains is that anything is created will be create at rest with respect to the lab. All cosmic rays would do is produce their funny offspring-particles and they would still carry a good deal of kinetic energy and shoot through the earth.

Even so, I am not afraid of the process.

It is interesting that Hawking "discovered" it. I thought before that it was proven. Then I read up and many things imply that it is theoretical and then other sources show tables of black holes, their radii, and the thermal radiation that would be emitted...

I get conflicting information where I look.
damn conflicting articles   click to show 



Do I trust the Hawking? Hell yes. I am not worried about what the CERN creates in its lab.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:38 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I want to know why the fuck scientists are doing this in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
What we need is clear and verifiable evidence that this won't destroy the universe.
I like it. "Okay boys, we either destroy the universe or we don't; if we're right and this is safe, then we get to thumb our noses at everyone. If we're wrong, then we're all dead, so really it's win-win!"
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:52 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augi
Oh, I absolutely agree. However, one valid argument that still remains is that anything is created will be create at rest with respect to the lab. All cosmic rays would do is produce their funny offspring-particles and they would still carry a good deal of kinetic energy and shoot through the earth.

Even so, I am not afraid of the process.

It is interesting that Hawking "discovered" it. I thought before that it was proven. Then I read up and many things imply that it is theoretical and then other sources show tables of black holes, their radii, and the thermal radiation that would be emitted...

I get conflicting information where I look.
damn conflicting articles   click to show 



Do I trust the Hawking? Hell yes. I am not worried about what the CERN creates in its lab.
Technically, black holes themselves are hypothetical. The problem with a lot of this really advanced physics is that you get to a point where nearly all of it is hypothetical, because we don't yet have technology sufficiently advanced to prove it. Everything from Higgs bosons to Glueballs to Strangelets to singularities are all so far only proven in theory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suave
I want to know why the fuck scientists are doing this in the first place.
See above. The LHC will allow us to do things with elementary particles that have previously been impossible, which will lead to a better understanding of the world around us.

Yay science!
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:04 PM   #26 (permalink)
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@ Martian:
I thought black holes are generally accepted as real things in our universe. We can't see them, but we can observe their effects on nearby objects. Haven't we all ready done so?
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:14 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augi
@ Martian:
I thought black holes are generally accepted as real things in our universe. We can't see them, but we can observe their effects on nearby objects. Haven't we all ready done so?
They are generally accepted. Being generally accepted does not equate to being proven.

There is circumstantial evidence that suggests their existence is highly probable. However, we have no direct evidence that black holes actually exist. Due to the nature of black holes, I'm sure you can imagine such evidence is decidedly hard to come by.
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Old 04-03-2008, 03:17 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I think people over-react when they hear "black hole". The mass at the center of a black hole is simply extremely compact matter. This compact matter would have no more gravity than the object that created it (often times less due to the amount of mass of the original object lost in the creation of the compact mass). The thing that makes them dangerous is that it compacts the gravity well of that object also. And that is only dangerous if the object that created it had a lot of gravity.

So think about it this way. The troublesome black holes are made from massive stars that fail under their own gravity. The matter in the star then plunges toward the center of the star crunching together and pounding the matter into a super-compact form.. often a lot of the rest of the material that isn't compacted is blown off (nova) or just becomes an additional part of the mass. This compact ball has a bit less gravity than the star that made it due to the loss of some material.

Now, the hugeness of the original star spreads its gravity well out over a large area and dissipates it a bit. The mass in the center of the black hole, on the other hand, is so much more compact that the gravity well is condensed into a smaller area.. because the "weight" is all in one spot the well is a lot deeper.

Think of it like a bed of nails. If you step on a single nail, that thing is going strait through your foot.. all of your weight is focused on that tiny little sharp point. However when you step on a bed of nails your weight is spread out over such a large area that you only sink a little bit. (i got tired of the balls on a bed sheet analogy )

Ok... now keep all that in mind and consider a gold atom. A gold atom has jack shit for a gravity well.. You don't see gold atoms sucking in anything. Now smash two of them together and what do you get? Well.. apparently a bunch of possible results. BUT if somehow you created a super-compact ultra-tiny mass it would still only have the gravity of those two gold atoms. I HIGHLY doubt that that could do anything.

As for the black holes radiating and losing small amounts of energy over time i believe this mostly has to do with energy and the smaller particles being able to slowly, over time, escape the event horizon of a black hole. I'm not sure if that applies to the central mass itself, but i could be wrong.

Seeing as how a micro-singularity wouldn't have the gravity to really to hold itself together, like a large one created by a star would, perhaps they would just fall apart and dissipate. They certainly wouldn't have enough mass to super-compact more material into itself and that is what would "grow" a small black hole like that. If by chance this thing could attract other matter it would just make a clump of regular matter.
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Old 04-03-2008, 03:40 AM   #29 (permalink)
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LHC's? Black Holes?

this whole ordeal reminds me of this article. 'Atom smasher may give birth to "black Saturns'

i dont think we have anything to worry about. i remember 9 or 10 years ago one of my friends was freaking out about something similar to this. "Were all going to turn to strange matter" he said.

"we'll be little blobs of grey just oozing where we lye" he screamed.

nothing happened. nothing will. were good.

-wishes he had the mind of michio kaku right now-
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Old 04-03-2008, 03:49 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ObieX
I think people over-react when they hear "black hole". The mass at the center of a black hole is simply extremely compact matter. This compact matter would have no more gravity than the object that created it (often times less due to the amount of mass of the original object lost in the creation of the compact mass).
It takes energy for the black hole to form? Yes black holes are those scary science things and people do over react when they hear of it. Just look at the progression of horror. First electricity gave way for Dr. Frankenstein to create his monster. Then the atomic bombs made Godzilla. Currently genetic engineering and biological weapons makes way for Resident Evil. People are just afraid of what they do not understand.


@ Martian:
OK. So scientists haven't proven without a doubt that it is a black hole? So what do they call objects that cannot be seen and have stars whizzing around them?
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:54 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augi
@ Martian:
OK. So scientists haven't proven without a doubt that it is a black hole? So what do they call objects that cannot be seen and have stars whizzing around them?
Well, that's the big question, isn't it?

First off, it's really not as simple as 'objects that can't be seen.' There are all kinds of stellar objects that we either haven't found or can't detect. It all has to do with luminosity.

The basic premise is that bright objects make less bright objects near them harder to detect. Like most of the basic premises in science, this is intuitive; if you place a candle in front of a search light, you're probably not going to be able to see the candle.

On top of that, it's incorrect in a technical sense to say that one object orbits another, as no one object is fixed in space. Rather, it's more accurate to say that two objects interact. In the case of a very small object interacting with a very large object (the Earth with the Sun, for example) the practical result is that the large object stays in place, since the gravitational pull of the smaller object isn't very often sufficient to cause a significant movement in the larger one. In the case of two objects that have a lot of mass, on the other hand (say, a black hole and a star), things get a bit more complicated. Making it worse is that none of this stuff exists in a vacuum and nearby massive objects will also exert gravitational pull, resulting in much more complex equations.

I'm really not going to get into it all here; it's fascinating stuff, but there's a whole big pile of background theory that has to be explained before we can even begin to explain alternate possibilities of what's going on here. Suffice to say, however, that even though we're nearly entirely sure that black holes exist and are affecting other objects in space, we can't be entirely sure, and that as long as we have alternate explanations and no direct evidence regarding the existence of black holes they do remain hypothetical. If you're interested in learning more about it all, Hawking's work is a good place to start, but to understand that you're probably going to have to also brush up on Kepler and special relativity and... well, you get the idea. We do have evidence that points to their existence and even gives us some idea as to what happens around them, and it's not all gravitational (or rather, it is, but it's more complex than just 'it pulls everything towards it'). Dr. Hawking in the first edition of A Brief History of Time (the very first book I ever read on the subject, as is the case for a great many people) stated that we were "95% certain" in 1988; I'd go as far as to say we are 98 or even 99% certain now. It's just that little 1% that gets in the way.

Understand that there are few if any actual physicists out there who are going to argue against the existence of black holes. Since Hawking conceded his bet with Thorne, nobody really feels confident in saying that these things don't exist. On the other hand, until we have incontrovertible proof, we cannot scientifically claim that black holes do exist; hence my statement above that they are still technically hypothetical.
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:09 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSD
Unjustified fears are easy to come by without research, but I would consider the fears about black holes and strangelets as unfounded as the claims that cell phones cause brain cancer.
No, that is the wrong order of certainty.

We are more certain about black holes and strangelets produced not consuming the planet than about brain cancer from cell phones.

We are more certain that a bullet shooting a can of pop will not trigger a big bang than we are about the LHC not destroying the earth.

Sun won't go supernova tommorrow? That might be in the right ballpark.
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:58 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakk
No, that is the wrong order of certainty.

We are more certain about black holes and strangelets produced not consuming the planet than about brain cancer from cell phones.
Cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation, which is defined as such because it cannot cannot emit radiation capable of ionizing atoms, which is how radiation causes tissue damage or mutations.
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:13 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Sure, but it might heat the skin, which weakens immune response, which allows cancers that happen anyhow to survive.

Ie: there is a slim, small chance that something could happen. It is extremely small and unlikely chance.

The "destroy the earth" theory is less likely than that. Nature is doing higher energy experiments all of the time, and planets aren't going poof and forming strangelet bombs or black holes all of the time.

The only thing really special about the LHC is the ability to watch it happen. Everything else is has been reality-tested up the wazoo.
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