Thursday, August 7, 2008

Black Hole Catastrophe Theory and the Large Hadron Collider

(You deserve a break from catastrophic Philippine news...)

Der Spiegel (Physicists Allay Fears About the End of the World) points to the YouTube video above which depicts the wildly popular catastrophe theory that the world's largest ever "atom smasher"--the Large Hadron Collider about to be switched on at CERN (European Nuclear Research Center) any time now--could create a black hole big enough to swallow up the Earth. Of course, being a German magazine, (and therefore no fun at all), the report concentrates on the debunking of the theory by a group of German Quantum Physicists:
KET argues that those concerned about a tiny black hole growing into a large black hole fundamentally misunderstand well-established rules of quantum physics. For one, mini-black holes, the KET Web site assures its readers, would be just one billionth of a billionth of a gram in weight and would be extremely unstable. Indeed, according to a theory developed by the famous physicist Stephen Hawking, they would vanish almost instantaneously -- a phenomenon known as Hawking radiation. Anyone who says otherwise, KET says, doesn't completely get Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
In another lifetime, I was working on the design and manufacture of powerful superconducting magnets for the General Electric Co. which had been tapped to supply some three thousand of them for what would've been America's own version of the LHC, called the Superconducting Super Collider. But the US Congress killed the project in 1994, which would've been built in Texas. There is an apocryphal story that claims a US Senator asked the Nobel Laureate, Harvard Physicist Steven Weinberg, whether the SSC would help us read the Mind of God, but got the wrong answer (or a disdainful look!) and that's why the SSC was never built and had to wait for Europe to do it with the LHC. The cancellation was a really huge disappointment for the entire scientific community, and some say it marked the end of American dominance in particle physics.

Well I dare say we'll probably understand how to make and use black holes much sooner than we will figure out the US Congress. It's just our luck though...the CERN Black Hole would swallow up Mindanao and the MILF last of all.)


blackshama said...

Who knows? The artificial black hole may open to an alternate universe where GMA never cheated, the whole Catholic hierarchy is gay or female, politicians are honest, cops do their job ad nauseum..... in short Utopia!

As for US dominance in particle physics,I have this question for Dr DJB.

How come we hear of quasi-theological physics from the Brits and Aussies (Paul Davies and company) while the America can only dish out the new agey physics of Frank Tipler?

Aren't the Americans supposed to be religious enough?

DJB Rizalist said...

Whoa, Ben. Have you ever read Frank Tipler's The Physics of Immortality? He purports to prove the inevitability of the Last Judgment using pure quantum theory (with a lot of hand waving).

blackshama said...


No.But I read his earlier works. I opted for Paul Davies. :)

JTankers said...

Actually Hawking Radiation and Dr. Einstein's theory of relativity are not compatible.

In fact Dr. Hawking proclaimed that Hawking Radiation was correct because Dr. Einstein was "doubly wrong".

What is far more likely is that Dr. Hawking was at least "doubly wrong". Hawking Radiation theory is refuted by multiple peer reviewed papers as fundamentally flawed and does not exist.

Relativity theory is well tested. Dr. Einstein is the grand master of physics, not Dr. Hawking.

Dr. Rossler has a very enlighten interpretation of Relativity Theory, disputes CERN's hurried and unverified safety arguments and theoretically proves that if micro black holes are created they would be stable and he argues that micro black holes could destroy Earth in 50 months to 50 years.


Jego said...

On Hawking radiation, Leonard Susskind in an interview recalled what was at the time his and Dr. Hawking's dispute about whether or not information is lost when a black hole 'evaporates'. (Hawking said yes theyre lost forever, Susskind said no, then Hawking recently said Susskind is correct.) However, Susskind said something totally baffling to me, which I hope DJB, our resident physics geek, would explain. Susskind said this:

It violates one of the fundamental principles of physics, which says nothing is ever lost completely. You may say, "How can you say information isn't lost? I can erase information on my computer." But every time a bit of information is erased, we know it doesn't disappear. It goes out into the environment. It may be horribly scrambled and confused, but it never really gets lost. It's just converted into a different form.

My problem is this: if information gets horribly scrambled and confused, then effectively, information is lost. For example, this -- My kingdom for a horse -- contains information. Now let's scramble and confuse that to "" (some of the letters got further deteriorated into tiny specks, hence the dots). We see that the information is lost. Or to use another analogy, if for example we humans and all our artifacts disappeared from the earth (swallowed up by the blackhole created by the LHC for instance), except for a tiny piece of paper with the sentence "My kingdom for a horse" on it, could a sufficiently advanced civilization use that fragment and retrieve from the ether the complete works of Shakespeare? Unless physicists are using 'information' differently from the rest of us, I think Dr. Hawking conceded too soon.

DJB Rizalist said...

thanks for the link to makes for fascinating reading though I frankly don't know what to make of it. I'm more familiar with Dr. Rossler's work on chaos and fractals (after which one is named for him, if memory serves me right). thanks for dropping by, even if you're message could be the doom of us all.

JTankers said...

Yes Dr. Rossler is most famous for his contributions to Chaos theory. He is also the founder of the field of Endophysics.

Thank you for the forum.

Amadeo said...

Black holes?

Now, that's being racist.


The Nashman said...

that nobel story is why barack (a closet atheist) is pretending to be religious...he needs the votes of the religious nutters

there is another thing that can get you science funding these days and this is to insert the line 'potential use for the war on terror..." in your grant application

Jim Purdy said...

I've Got Einstein on my Mind
by Jim Purdy

Listen to me one and all, Oh dear,
For bad news I bring, The End is Near.

In the UK, the Daily Mail tried to clue us in,
That those mad scientists are going to do us in.

Yes indeed, they have published a news article
Warning us of a runaway sub-atomic particle.

The Large Hadron Collider is to blame,
And our universe will soon end in flame.

Oh man, the fireworks will be spectacular,
It'll be so big, I won't need my binocular.

As the end nears, some may grieve and mourn,
But I'll enjoy the show, just eating my popcorn.

Someday I'll entertain grandkids with the story I'll tell,
Oh. Wait. I guess I won't have any grandkids, oh well.

In college, we laughed at those physics dorks,
Always talking about their tachyons and quarks.

Yes, soon the world will be gone, we'll be no more,
Thanks to guys named Fermi, Heisenberg and Bohr.

So, as I await the end of all mankind,
I've got Albert Einstein on my mind.