NY Times: Potential Hazards of the LHC

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In summary: If the LHC produces strangelets at a rate of 1 trillion per second, how long would it take for the entire Earth to be covered in strangelets? 3) If strangelets were to actually form, would they be able to destroy the Earth or would they be absorbed by it? In summary, according to the scientific community, the chances of any harm coming to the Earth as a result of the LHC are incredibly low. However, due to the fact that strangelets have never been observed before, it is impossible to say for certain what would happen if they were to form.
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I was reading a NY Times article on the lawsuit filed by Wagner and Sancho and amongst the usual doomsday predictions of black holes devouring the earth, strangelets turning the Earth to strange matter etc... It made the claim that

...while nothing will happen in the CERN collider that does not happen 100,000 times a day from cosmic rays in the atmosphere... 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 the laboratory and so will stick around and thus could create havoc.

What kinds of things are they referring to? I mean... i know about the huge unlikelyhood of black holes causing trouble, and from what i understand strangelets would decay rather than destroy the Earth as we know it. Is there anything else (other than dragons)?
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/29/science/29collider.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&oref=slogin" is a link to the article.

And if anyone is willing... could you point me in the direction of some (introductory, if possible) websites/resources explaining QED & QCD as they relate to what will go on inside the LHC? I'm second year physics student - so I'm familiar with QM and various interpretations - but i haven't done anything on field theories. Of course if you're really feeling helpful, you could put some info in here for me!
 
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Hey,

I'm no authority on the subject, having only just finished an undergrad course on it myself (3rd year). However, unless your quite frankly awesome I think its a subject that takes a little time and patience to get your head round. Running straight into the physics theyre doing at CERN will be a massive headache I would have thought.

I have found web resources to be somewhat unreliable, although you will find what you need on wikipedia. - however these two books have been cracking...

Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics by Das and Ferbal - really nice text, takes you through all the basics of QCD and QED. Is a very good introduction.

Introduction to Elementary Particle Physics - its a little out of date, but Griffiths writes in a really easy to take in way. Lots of nice problems in his books too.

Although surely you must be doing an undergraduate course on it next semester? Are there no lecture notes for that you could get your hands on?
 
  • #3
Tyst said:
And if anyone is willing... could you point me in the direction of some (introductory, if possible) websites/resources explaining QED & QCD as they relate to what will go on inside the LHC? I'm second year physics student - so I'm familiar with QM and various interpretations - but i haven't done anything on field theories. Of course if you're really feeling helpful, you could put some info in here for me!

In addition to the books that Barny recommends, there is the excellent, but non-mathematical, Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics by Bruce A. Schumm.

Barny said:
ntroduction to Elementary Particle Physics - its a little out of date

Not anymore! A second edition comes out in a month or two; I have already ordered a copy.
 
  • #4
Ah fantastic, I may have to do the same. I've found all of Griffiths books such a nice read. A second edition is well over due at 21 years, I think the last release was 1987.

I'm a teaching aid in a school for a bit of cash to help with uni and one of the kids there started quizzing me on the "imminent destruction of the world due to nutjobs at CERN" as he so eloquently put it.

He seemed quite convinced he wasnt going to see his 16th birthday out due to an article similar to this- maybe it was this article he read. Was a challange and a half convincing someone who has only just got to grips with Ohms law that he was probably going to be fine.

Does anyone know if the safety reports that were produced decided to try and quantify the probability of things going a bit fruity? Would be interesting to see it.
 
  • #5
Read this article

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/indepth/30679

It gave two sources of rigorous studies, one for RHIC, and one for LHC, that point to the same conclusion.

Zz.
 
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  • #6
Not another "I am scared of the LHC" thread!

Hello there,

Recently I have heard about the LHC, and like most people who aren't fairly well educated on the subject of physics, I at first got scared of Black Holes. Eventually that fear decimated as I found more and more proof against dangerous MBH, but funnily enough my main fear has now moved onto the particles known as "strangelets". I have registered to this forum so people who have a better knowledge on physics can explain to me these following points.

1) What exactly is the accretion rate for a strangelet to convert earth? Interestingly enough, the LHC's no. 1 opponent Walter L. Wagner said it would take millions of years for a single strangelet to be the size of a pea (he says that it takes time to convert and burp, and that fusion would start out as nearly linear), yet I doubt him.

2) The LHC's collisions are expected to be hotter than a red pepper on a sizzling summer's day. Strangelets, on the other hand, are rather cold. Creating strangelets at an ion reactor have been described as akin to "creating an ice cube in a furnace".

3) To produce a dangerous strangelet, would it require several theories to support it to contradict one another (or something like that).

If you are able to answer these points, then thanks.

-George
 

1. What is the LHC and what are its potential hazards?

The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is a particle accelerator located in Switzerland that is used for scientific research. Its potential hazards include the creation of mini black holes and strangelets, as well as the potential for radiation leaks.

2. How likely is it that the LHC will cause a catastrophic event?

The chances of the LHC causing a catastrophic event are extremely low. The safety of the LHC has been extensively studied and reviewed by experts, and it has been deemed safe for operation.

3. What measures are in place to ensure the safety of the LHC?

The LHC has multiple safety measures in place, including a system that monitors the temperature and pressure of the machine, as well as a system that can shut down the accelerator in case of any abnormalities. Additionally, there are strict safety protocols and regulations in place that are constantly monitored and updated.

4. Have there been any incidents or accidents at the LHC?

No, there have been no incidents or accidents at the LHC since its construction and operation began in 2008. The safety measures in place have been effective in preventing any mishaps.

5. What are the potential benefits of the research conducted at the LHC?

The research conducted at the LHC has the potential to greatly advance our understanding of the universe and fundamental theories of physics. It could also lead to breakthroughs in technology and medicine, as well as advancements in renewable energy sources.

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