Flatter Earth: The Large Hadron Collider Could Shrink Our Planet To The Size Of A Football Field According To Martin Rees

Monday, 01 October 2018 - 11:07AM
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Monday, 01 October 2018 - 11:07AM
Flatter Earth: The Large Hadron Collider Could Shrink Our Planet To The Size Of A Football Field According To Martin Rees
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One of the most-hyped fears about the Large Hadron Collider before it was first turned on was the theory that it might inadvertently create a black hole that would engulf the Earth. Since then, no black holes have materialized, although one author really wishes they would (a small one, just to prove parallel universes exist). According to British cosmologist Martin Rees, however, black holes aren't the only thing we should be worried about when it comes to weird, potentially cataclysmic events triggered by the LHC...

In his book, On the Future: Prospects for Humanity, Rees takes some time to outline some of the more exotic doomsday scenarios the LHC could cause, including the well-worn black hole theory. Even more terrifying, however, may be the emergence of strangelets:

Opening quote
"The second scary possibility is that the quarks would reassemble themselves into compressed objects called strangelets. That in itself would be harmless. However, under some hypotheses a strangelet could, by contagion, convert anything else it encounters into a new form of matter, transforming the entire Earth in a hyperdense sphere about one hundred metres across."
Closing quote


TL;DR – Our entire planet could shrink down to something the size of a football field because we decided to play with particle physics.

All right, Martin Rees, you got us – that somehow sounds worse than a black hole.

But the worst-case scenario he puts forward in the book is even more disturbing: "Some have speculated that the concentrated energy created when particles crash together could trigger a 'phase transition' that would rip the fabric of space. This would be a cosmic calamity not just a terrestrial one."

Similar to the debunked theory that atomic tests could ignite the Earth's atmosphere, Rees claims that it's possible (though highly unlikely) that our little LHC experiments could cause these events. Meanwhile, CERN (which operates the LHC) has already released a statement reaffirming that whatever the LHC does "nature has already done many times over during the lifetime of the Earth and other astronomical bodies" (referring to the high-speed collision of particles).

So, sleep tight – the LHC probably won't kill us all.

Probably.

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