LHC Lunacy & Doomsday Scenarios
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 23, 2009
In my last post, I took various physics woo-meisters to task for being what I call “Einstein cranks”. However, another class of physics crank deserves some notice, if only because they have made their cranky ideas so public and obvious. These are the cranks who believe the Large Hadron Collider is going to destroy the Earth by the creation of a black hole or strangelet.
**Aside: Even if the worst-case scenario were to come true, and a planet-eating black hole were to be formed in the LHC, this blog entry explains quite clearly why there is no concern.
All I can say is… balderdash… complete and utter pseudoscientific fear-mongering & balderdash. The following video from The Daily Show illustrates just how silly these arguments can be…
The arguments from these folks range from simply not understanding basic physics to delusional conspiracy mongering. Walter Wagner, the man in the video above, illustrates a perfect storm of woo regarding this issue. Allow me to list some of the flaws in his reasoning more specifically…
First off, the level of energy of the interactions within the LHC (or any particle accelerator, for that matter) is well within the range of numerous naturally occurring events. For example, high-energy cosmic rays have been slamming into our upper atmosphere for billions of years, and as yet none of these natural interactions has generated a black hole, strangelet, or any other form of deadly exotic matter which threatens to destroy our planet. So if nature has been performing such experiments for billions of years, why all the sudden fear that a machine will suddenly end up destroying us?
Another fatal flaw in Wagner’s argument is when he states “there is a 50/50 chance of the LHC destroying the Earth”. When challenged in the video clip as to why this is the case, he responds by saying “either the LHC will destroy the Earth, or it won’t – that’s 50/50.” You’ve got to be kidding me!
Wagner and the other woosters need to go back to school and understand basic probability if they take these lame arguments seriously. For example, if I shuffle a deck of cards, the odds that I will randomly draw the Ace of Spades is 1 in 52 (because there is only one Ace of Spades in a fair deck); but according to Wagner and his cranky ilk, there is a 50-50 chance I could draw the Ace of Spades! You know, I bet that when Wagner visits Las Vegas the folks running the casinos love to have him around – he will soon be rather broke using that twisted logic 🙂
So why are Wagner and other nuts making these arguments, despite their patent silliness? I have some ideas on this… one, they are simply paranoid conspiracy theorists – believe it or not, there are some folks out there who really think the government, Illuminati, etc are actually out to destroy the planet and this is how they plan to do it. A second possibility is some of these folks have a religiously based anti-scientific attitude, where they believe that by using the LHC to explore the physics of the Big Bang scientists are somehow impinging upon God’s domain, and God will punish us – this is analogous to the Biblical story of Adam & Eve eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Still a third possibility is that some of the woo-meisters are using the hysteria surrounding the LHC as a way of making money – after all, there are some of them who solicit donations on their websites as a way of paying for litigation in various courts to stop the startup of the LHC. And, sadly, I’m sure there are people who are both scared & gullible enough to send in money.
But what is the best evidence that the LHC is not the great, cosmic danger these whackjobs insist? It is the fact that on Sept. 10th, 2008 the LHC was successfully turned on… and the end-of-the-world didn’t come! Yup, I hate to break it to you, folks, but we’re still here – hmmm, fancy that.
To stay as up-to-date as possible on the status of the LHC and it’s Earth-destroying potential, allow me to recommend the following website…