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The LHC is on, and we're still here

Posted by tigerhawkvok on September 10, 2008 11:46 in physics , news , anti-science

So I was going to make a post about how the world hasn't ended, but you know, this time around, doomsayers can't even doomsay correctly.

That is to say, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, turned on today at 10:33 CET, and we're all still here. The test beam went in one direction (not the two necessary you know, for a collision) at less than full power, so doomsayers can't possibly have been correct. However, I think it might be worth listing off a few reasons why the LHC couldn't destroy the Earth:

  • You've got protons. Accelerated really fast. So if you make a black hole, its going to have a really tiny Schwarzschild radius, or the radius of the event horizon (Rs). Like, GMc-2 (to first order). Which is to say, at the speed these guys are traveling, a completely tangential approach would only decay into the black hole at < 1.5Rs. How big is Rs? Ballparking, we have
    (10-11)(10-26)/(1016)=10-43 m. That's really really tiny. And since black holes evaporate roughly as ħm-2, really small things evaporate really really really really fast — in this case, 1020 kg/s. This little mini black hole will need to get within 10-43 m of particles faster than it evaporates, which even at a hairs breadth below the speed of light it doesn't cut it. Really roughly, it'll last:
    10-17m3 s = 10-98 s, Which translates to a distance of under 10-90 m — virtually no distance at all, and an infinitesimal fraction of a nucleus. In fact, being a very small fraction of a Planck length, its virtually meaningless to say it traveled at all.
  • This is a bit more complicated by the fact that black holes have no hair but retain charge, so this will be a charged nearly light-speed traveling black hole. Very small correction, but there.
  • The strangelet hypothesis also won't happen. Sure, colliding strangelets with normal matter can convert normal matter into strange matter. But, cross-sections are again really tiny, and statistics ensures that the reaction would die out by decaying of the strangelet.

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