It was supposed to start up in June, at which time the Earth would explicitly NOT be sucked into a tiny black hole. Or at least not quickly. Or at least not a black hole any different than the thousands that are already forming in our upper atmosphere more or less constantly.

Did it start up? No. There have been continued delays, or more accurately (perhaps), the exact startup depends on things that cannot be precisely measured mainly because they have never been done before and it is a good idea to take one’s time. I’m pretty sure the legal challenges have not been part of the delays.

Real high energy work with the machine is currently moved back to October 2008, although it is hard to find this information anywhere on the CERN site. But have a look.


  1. #1 Virgil Samms
    August 19, 2008

    It did start up on schedule, and we were sucked into an alternate universe in which the LHC is delayed by problems. Quantum physics is funny that way.

  2. #2 rpenner
    August 19, 2008

    The legal challenges haven’t slowed down CERN because (in the case of Wagner and Sancho’s Hawaiian lawsuit) the court papers were never legally served on CERN. CERN enjoys diplomatic immunity in Switzerland (as the Swiss embassy points out) and cannot be legally served court papers by the Swiss justice system.

    All of this is defined in a 1955 legal document Agreement between Switzerland and the European Organization for Nuclear Research Concerning the Legal Status of the European of the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland which is available on the web.

  3. #3 Charles Darwin
    August 19, 2008

    I have also wondered about this elsewhere.

    I suspect that there are several people standing around the LHC with Things With Wires Leading From Them That Are Left Over Now The Thing Is Finished, And Were Clearly Meant To Go Somewhere In That Thing, But Aren’t.

  4. #4 Romeo Vitelli
    August 19, 2008

    I do wish they’d get around to starting that thing. I have a side bet on the outcome. I stand to win a few bucks if the LHC creates a black hole that sucks the Earth into oblivion.

  5. #5 JP
    August 19, 2008

    read up, folks. it’s in the initial test phases:

  6. #6 Andrew
    August 19, 2008

    I read the wiki entry but it was not exactly clear or compelling for someone (like me) who did not already know pretty much what it would say.

  7. #7 Webs
    August 19, 2008

    I was really looking forward to shutting up the LHC nuts… damn!

  8. #8 Joetalitarian
    August 20, 2008

    According to BBC News it will be fully functional on the tenth of September.

  9. #9 yogi-one
    August 20, 2008

    I saw on the history channel some physicist was talking about how it would feel to get sucked into a black hole, like you just stretch and stretch forever. He said it would be his preferred way to die. The program was called The Last Days: 7 Ways the Earth Could End (or something close to that).

    I like the bet that you win if we get sucked into oblivion. That’s kind of like “if I die first, you owe me money!”

    You gotta admire the audacity.

    How dare you die before me! Why, I’ll show you a thing or three!

    But what if we just end up getting rolled into a tiny dimension? Does that count?

  10. #10 JTankers
    August 20, 2008

    Mother Nature obeys her own laws. The best science can to is attempt to discover them and our understanding is limited.

    What concerns me is reliance on apparently fundamentally flawed safety arguments. Other arguments propose significant potential for catastrophic results (planetary destruction in 50 months to 50 years).

    The risk of danger is high as revealed by nuclear physicist Walter L. Wagner who is notably suing for confirmed proof of reasonable safety. Professor Dr. Otto E. Rossler’s theories of danger and plea to the world for an emergency safety meeting should be addressed.

    A nightmarish situation, that can still be hoped to be averted in time through communication within the scientific community, is drawn attention to. Only a few weeks remain to find out whether the danger is real or nothing but a mirage. After this time window is closed, it will take years until we know whether or not we are doomed. The story line has all the features of a best-selling novel. The reader is asked to contribute constructively.

    Quote from Dr. Otto E. Rossler, a modern day Leonardo Da Vinchi, Professor of Theoretical Biochemistry, visiting Professor of Theoretical Physics, inventor of the Rossler Attractor, founder of Endophysics, winner of the 2003 Chaos Award of the University of Liege and the 2003 Rene Descartes Award, contributor to hyper chaos, micro relativity and author of approximately 300 scientific papers.

    Professor Rosslers latest interview with Alan Gillis may be found at

  11. #11 Romeo Vitelli
    August 20, 2008

    “But what if we just end up getting rolled into a tiny dimension? Does that count?”

    Yes, but it won’t be as much money due to the severe currency deflation.

  12. #12 rpenner
    August 21, 2008

    JTankers is wrong when he claims what Wagner’s motives are. Wagner’s physics background is entirely inconsequential and as a result he considers his ability to phrase a vague question to be the equal of answering it. He considers his locating a scratch on a plastic plate from an experiment he did not conduct, with a methodology he did not develop, for a paper he did not write to be a great discovery, when the four authors of the paper retracted that claim 30 years ago. He is not a “nuclear physicist” — he’s a physics minor who possibly worked as a technician. He is not the author of scientific papers contributing to Man’s knowledge of the nuclear forces.

    Therefore Wagner’s issue isn’t about physics or safety, any more than praise from Stephen Colbert is positively correlated with sound Republican policy decisions.

    Wagner’s skills as a lawyer are meager at best. His scientific output, even as a botanist, is not widely known. I have not heard reports that separate legal issues have evaporated for Wagner, so as far as I know he’s still facing felony charges in Hawaii. He never served papers on CERN, and he failed to respond to DOE’s motion to dimiss. The anti-LHC noise-makers could have pinned their hopes on a pet rock for a better result.

    Roessler’s a sadder case. But you know he’s off his game when he fails to get his work published in journals where he is an honorary editor. And the calculation of “50 months” doesn’t appear even in pre-print. It is not science or math, but noise.

    Still waiting for a rebuttal of Giddings and Mangano which Peskin and I have (separately) summarized for the layman.

  13. #13 rpenner
    August 23, 2008

    Wagner failed to deliver anything like a rebuttal to the DOE’s request to dismiss. So here’s hoping it’s all over by Sept. 2.

  14. #15 rpenner
    August 29, 2008

    If Alan Gillis is correct, then a new suit was filed in a court that is much slower than US Federal court and has even less likelihood of ruling for the plaintiffs or even that it has jurisidiction over CERN.

    No idea whence comes the summary “The legal arguments that define the legitimacy of the suit appear clear-cut, and have been crafted in German by a well known Professor of International Law, Adrian Hollaender.” when there is no link to the claim or expert analysis. Here is the missing link:

  15. #16 Hank Campbell
    September 1, 2008

    Scientific Blogging is an open community so everyone can have their say unless they are total kooks, but sentences like “I theorize that what might occur at the LHC is a new type of Bosenova from what amounts to a BEC used there as a coolant …” from a writer with no physics training of any kind should tell you to take the article with a grain of salt. That ‘science and society’ section is for things a little looser than the real science categories and the researchers writing those.

    Wasn’t Wagner the guy who sued Brookhaven too? I mean, I am all for safety but if a group of people just make up things and then say ‘CERN didn’t test my theory so they are wrong’ it doesn’t carry a lot of weight.

  16. #17 rpenner
    September 29, 2008

    Based on the arguments given on September 2, Judge Gillmor has dismissed the Hawaiian case for lack of jurisdiction.

  17. #18 rpenner
    October 23, 2008

    Wagner files Notice to Appeal on October 20.

  18. #19 rpenner
    August 26, 2010

    The September 2008 dismissal of the US-based anti-LHC lawsuit, based on the District court’s decision that the US Federal court had no jurisdiction because the US Governments funding of parts of the LHC did not amount to turning CERN construction and operation into a ‘“major Federal action” within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act. 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(c)’, was appealed. On August 24, 2010, the appeal was decided by a three-judge panel and unanimously affirmed on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not meet any of the three legs of standing to sue in Federal court: ‘(1) an “injury in fact,” (2) “a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of” that is not attributable to “the independent action of some third party not before the court,” and (3) a likelihood that a favorable decision will redress the injury’ and, importantly, because ‘CERN has never been properly served, and is not a party to this case’ there was no one involved in the case who had a finger on the on/off button. This echoes the early questions of the District court concerning proper channels, a statement from the Swiss mission to the US, and concerns of Wagner’s own process server.

    Ultimately, the courts (like science) are evidence-based, and as the judges wrote: ‘Speculative fear of future harm does not constitute an injury in fact sufficient to confer standing.’ Which is what we have been telling Wagner (more or less) since before he filed.

    The decision in text with a link to the PDF with nearby transcripts and audio of the appellate hearing and 2008 decision: