“German woman fails to prove atom-smasher will end world”

by Walter Olson on October 22, 2012

“A German woman who feared the Earth would be sucked into oblivion in a black hole failed Tuesday in her court bid to stop the work of the world’s most powerful atom smasher.’ [Phys.org]

{ 9 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 10.22.12 at 11:36 am

What about the precautionary principle? I thought we had to be able to prove that no harm would come before we would allow an experiment to take place. After all that is what the environmentalists argue to prevent GM plants from being grown.

2 Leland D. Davis 10.22.12 at 1:34 pm

Even with the precautionary principle, essentially, we know that everything that could happen in even the most energetic particle accelerator collisions happens all the time in the earth, naturally. There is a class of cosmic rays, the ultra-high energy cosmic rays, which have very high energies. Recently, in the graduate university program I am enrolled in, (sorry, I am not a lawyer), a man came to talk about an experiment to quantify this cosmic ray events in the Utah desert. One of the puzzlements is that, according to some calculations, these cosmic rays either originate close to earth, or do not exist, but we know, experimentally, both that ultra high energy cosmic rays do exist, and it seems unlikely that they come from nearby sources, so there is a great deal of scientific interest in the phenomenon. As to the LHC causing the earth to be sucked into a black hole, as one person put it, if it could happen, it would have happened already. One explanation of why it does not happen is Hawkins work on radiation from black holes. Back in the day, particle physicists would go to mountain tops to find their exotic particles, but the need for experimental control, and better intensities, led to the development of particle accelerators.
Oh, before I became unemployed as a molecular biologist, and decided I needed to train for a new career, I was trying to apply to jobs at Monsanto to develop GM crops. Now I am training as a health physicist to work in the nuclear industry. I must be on my way to being popular with all the right people!
Leland Davis

3 Richard Nieporent 10.22.12 at 6:26 pm

Leland, I believe you missed the sarcasm on my part. The precautionary principle has no basis in science. It is being used by environmental fanatics to attempt to stop the development of new crops.

4 OBQuiet 10.22.12 at 8:49 pm

Well, won’t we all feel silly (for the few moments we have remaining) if she turns out to be right. But you can rest easy, sure in the knowledge that there will be a few dozen firms struggling to be the first to file the Class Action before the world is torn apart.

(Now removing tongue from cheek)

5 Bill Alexander 10.22.12 at 8:53 pm

Leland: “(sorry, I am not a lawyer)”

One never has to apologize for not being a lawyer.

Also, even if they could create a micro black hole, the gravitational attraction towards it would be immeasurable small.

6 rxc 10.23.12 at 7:04 am

I believe that the physicists who designed the first nuclear weapons had a betting pool on the question of whether the first test would ignite the atmosphere and instantly incinerate all of us. It is not clear how one side would have collected…

7 Robert 10.24.12 at 8:56 am

I can’t help but admit that a tiny part of me secretly wishes she was right, and a black hole appears sucking us all in.

Think of the satisfaction this plaintiff will have going around saying: “See! I told You!”

8 D 10.24.12 at 12:47 pm

Bartender: You really think the world’s gonna end?
Ford: Yes.
Bartender: Shouldn’t we lie down? Put paper bags over our heads or something?
Ford: If you like.
Bartender: Would it help?
Ford: Not at all.

9 NickM 10.25.12 at 7:28 pm

If she had sued in Italy, she might have won.

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