The Quantum Pontiff

Lawsuit brought against CERN and the LHC for the possibility that it might produce black holes which will eat the earth. I look forward to seeing string theory on trial. Maybe something like an inverse “Inherit the Wind” play to follow.

Oh, and this made me laugh:

Mr. Sancho, who describes himself as an author and researcher on time theory, lives in Spain, probably in Barcelona, Mr. Wagner said.

Probably in Barcelona?


  1. #1 PalMD
    March 29, 2008

    Of course, it is impossible to know both the position and momentum of a crank simultaneously.

  2. #2 JohnQPublic
    March 29, 2008

    I guess we’ll never know if they’re right.

  3. #3 Matthias
    March 29, 2008

    Well, he might be travelling a little more during the trial, so maybe we get to know a little better where he probably is.

  4. #4 rpenner
    March 29, 2008

    After years of pointless posturing and very scary scenarios backed up only with bad hypothetical physics, the lawsuit to stop CERN was filed on Friday, March 21.

    New York Times story:
    Nature (interdisciplinary science journal) story:

    CC: to Uncertain Principles.

    The announcement I was given (with links to docs):
    The complaint (in Word format, ick):
    My quick look at the complaint, with a rationale on why hypothetical physics should not be part of EPA reports:
    My rationale on why hypothetical physics should not be part of Risk Assessment, made in ignorance of the complaint:

    Note that the COMPLAINT says Luis Sancho is a resident of Hawaii.

  5. #5 guthrie
    March 29, 2008

    One guy has been claiming Fermilabs will produce supernova for 7 years now:

    It is unclear whether he is bonkers, having a laugh, or carrying out some strange sort of experiment.

  6. #6 Phil Warnell
    March 29, 2008

    Hi Dave,

    You are aware the construction of the LHC is a sinister plot conceived and executed by Stephen Hawking. That is, after the black hole forms to have Cern disappear, he will be assured of receiving the Nobel Prize πŸ™‚



  7. #7 Dave Bacon
    March 29, 2008

    Phil: only if the black hole evaporates. If it stays around “No Nobel For You, Dr. Hawking!”

  8. #8 natural cynic
    March 30, 2008

    It’s all just part of the interstellar highway development project. No problem, mon.

  9. #9 Phil Warnell
    March 30, 2008

    Hi Dave,

    “Phil: only if the black hole evaporates. If it stays around “No Nobel For You, Dr. Hawking!”

    Don’t be so sure, he has recently been preparing for space flight and you are aware he has written a new book called “A Briefer History of Time” :-).



  10. #10 H.C.
    March 30, 2008

    What this stupid is saying, is “I think the LHC is the solution of the Fermi paradox”. But the Fermi paradox has been studied enough and is understood well enough to know that this is of course nonsense.

  11. #11 A Babe in the Universe
    March 30, 2008

    Just as humans once feared sharks and wolves, there is a lot of fear and prejudice about Black Holes. Even scientists share the same silly misconceptions about being sucked up.

    A typical Primordial Black Hole has a mass of about 10^11 kg. Since this is more than the mass of LHC, one theoretically produced there would be even smaller. If you were only one meter away from this PBH, the gravitational tug would be only 2/3 what you feel from Earth.

    Suppose you were suicidal, reached out and touched the PBH. The first gram of your fingertip would be turned into about 10^13 joules of radiation, the yield of a small nuclear warhead.

    The rest of you would be blown into the next county, easily exceeding the Black Hole’s tiny escape velocity. You would not be sucked into the Black Hole even if you wanted to be!

    Unless you believe in extra dimensions, LHC is not powerful enough to produce a stable Black Hole. If by chance one were produced, it would evaporate almost immediately. I hope this makes everyone sleep better at night.

  12. #12 daenku32
    March 30, 2008

    What is more likely is that all that energy contained in the accelerator will suddenly get released and cause a huge explosion. But even that is not even remotely likely to actually happen.

    And of course:
    “There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.””

  13. #13 peter
    March 31, 2008

    I thought many collisions involving Cosmic Rays in the upper atmosphere contained substantially more energy then the LHC will be able to produce… am I misremembering?

  14. #14 andy.s
    April 1, 2008 the U.:

    I haven’t read the lawsuit, but, I am assuming that the plaintiff is arguing that the large dimensions might exist and that Hawking decay doesn’t happen.

    Since large dimensions haven’t been ruled out, and Hawking decay has never been observed, this scenario is at least plausible. (Although I’m not sure, even then, if it would eat up the earth: I think you’d just get a little bitty BH orbiting through the earth, picking up a few hundred million atoms at a time).

    Peter: that’s actually a better argument than the Hawking radiation argument since it appeals to actual observation.

  15. #15 rpenner
    June 18, 2008

    Update: The trial has been scheduled for June 2009. (But I expect it to die in the next 14 days.) The plaintiffs have not served court papers on even half the named defendants yet, and the Department of Energy’s earliest notes suggest that this case is essentially still-born.

  16. #16 rpenner
    June 20, 2008

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