Sunday, March 30, 2008

Creating a black hole

In Saturday's New York Times (the paper copy, though it was online as well) I read about the giant particle accelerator being built in Europe. Right outside Geneva to be exact. Apparently this massive spinning device (called the Large Hadron Collider) will take protons and smash them against each other at great speeds. Kind of like a crash-up-derby if you will.

Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho aren't so sure that this is a good idea. Messrs Wagner and Sancho are concerned that the action of ramming protons together will produce a black hole which will devour the earth. To stop the construction, they filled a lawsuit in Hawaii of all places.

If you're like me, you probably read this and thought "what kind of nut jobs are these two guys?" Turns out, they are nut jobs, but did have such a compelling argument that the researchers at the Large Hadron Collider conducted further studies looking into their concerns. And while there actually is a small chance Messrs Wagner and Sancho might be right, they are moving forward with the Collider anyways.

I plan on telling this story next time there is a dull moment at a work meeting. I can't wait to watch the faces after I tell others that we might be eaten by a black hole in the coming years. Doesn't the idea of creating a black hole make those boring peer reviews all the less meaningful?

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