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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