End of World One Step Closer. Or Not.

A vast physics experiment - the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - reaches a key milestone this weekend ahead of an official start-up on 10 September.

Engineers had previously brought a beam of protons - tiny, sub-atomic particles - to the "doorstep" of the LHC.

On 9 August, protons will be piped through LHC magnets for the first time.

The most powerful physics experiment ever built, the LHC will re-create the conditions present in the Universe just after the Big Bang.

  • This last sentence is the one that's caused a little panic amongst certain groups of the population - they are convinced that the experiment will create miniature black holes which will fall through the LHC towards the centre of the Earth, where they will orbit around, gradually consuing the planet from beneath our feet.

When the collider is commissioned, the beams will cross paths at allotted points along the tunnel, smashing into one another with cataclysmic force.

  • My God, have these people never seen Ghostbusters??

Scientists hope to see new particles in the debris of these collisions, revealing fundamental new insights into the nature of the cosmos and how it came into being.

Now that is seriously cool (well, hot, actually) - to be able to recreate what the whole of reality looked like mere femtoseconds after it started...

BBC story

Critics have previously raised concerns that the production of weird hypothetical particles called strangelets in the LHC could trigger the mass conversion of nuclei in ordinary atoms into more strange matter - transforming the Earth into a hot, dead lump.

Earlier BBC story

Amusingly paranoid story

Analog Magazine article

Picture of End of World One Step Closer.  Or Not.
LHC black hole.jpg
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its a lion8 years ago
Here's a webcam feed from the LHC. Just thought someone might want to watch it.

jugad8 years ago
I assume the definition of event horizon is that point where the escape velocity becomes greater than speed of light. Now if we fire in a bullet towards a black hole, but a bit offcenter such that the projectile goes in like a comet which is not aiming the sun. If the projectile goes beyond the event horizon, why would it not come back out? It did gain the energy to come out while on the way in. Amusingly, I think I have a way to exceed the speed of light. If the laws of physics work symmetrically, if a particle at event horizon needs greater than light speed to escape the black hole, then a particle falling into the black hole faster than say, a particle starting at rest from infinity, will be accelerated to higher than light speed when it hits the event horizon :-) Or have we changed the definition of event horizon? On the same lines, I guess any particle which is not aimed at the dead centre of the black hole should be able to simply loop out...
Kiteman (author)  jugad8 years ago
Anything entering at or below the event horizon will spiral into the singularity.

Just crossing the horizon does not mean they exceed c. To escape, they have to exceed c, and since they cannot even reach c, that is impossible.
jugad Kiteman8 years ago
Look at my reply to Adrian Monk... What I was wondering was that according to symmetry, if I expend x amount of energy/velocity coming far from a heavenly body like the earth/sun etc, I should gain the same amount while falling in. Since no amount of energy/velocity is enough to escape a black hole, a particle falling into the black hole should gain precisely that amount of energy and velocity - which are infinite energy and "more than speed of light"... Ofcourse this sounds absurd... what I was wondering is how they understand/resolve it.
A) Do you mean supersymmetry? If so, the answer is no. The theory of super-symmetry doesn't have to do with that.

B) Energy and velocity are two very different things.

C) Well, no-there's no relationship there. It might happen, depending on your velocity while you're heading there, but not necessarily.

D) What?

E) It is impossible to gain have infinite energy.
Aww... lets just agree that we wont reach the answer between us. I cant explain the question any more :-)
Actually, I just noticed this, but the definition of even horizon is as follows: The point at which an object can never escape the black hole. There is no way to locally tell if you have passed the event horizon, it's not marked in any way.
But they can't exceed the speed of light. According to Einstein, you can't even attain it. You can come very, very close, but you can never reach, or exceed the speed of light.
I know... we cant attain speed of light. But what I have is a question of symmetry. Imagine the following situation... Escape velocity from earth is 11km/sec. If atmospheric friction and other heavenly bodies are ignored, then an object fired up from the earth surface at 11 km/sec will get away from earth and become slower and slower such that asymtotically, it will come to rest at infinity. Reversing this, we see that any object sufficiently far from earth at rest will start to accelerate towards the earth and will reach a velocity of 11 km/sec when it hits the surface. How does the same scenario play out in the case if the earth surface is replaced with the black hole's event horizon. Gravity is so strong that maximum velocity possible is not good enough to escape... reversing this situation, what velocity will a particle attain if sent in from far away? Same question to kiteman as well.
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