Your Friend the Black Hole

A lot has been made about the Large Hadron Col­lid­er, which is sched­uled to resume oper­a­tions this Octo­ber, and some are won­der­ing whether the col­lid­er is capa­ble of destroy­ing the world. The most “like­ly” sce­nario I’ve heard is that the col­lid­er could cause the for­ma­tion of a black hole which would suck Earth into crush­ing oblivion.

Believe it or not, the cre­ation of black holes is hoped for as it would help con­firm the exis­tence of the­o­ret­i­cal dimen­sions, among oth­er things. 

Don't Panic! And you need­n’t wor­ry. Look at any object on your desk. If it were to col­lapse into a black hole, you would not be sucked into it, not unless you got so close as to enter its event hori­zon. Grav­i­ty cor­re­lates to mass, and if a book col­lapsed into a black hole, its mass would remain the same, as would its grav­i­ty. (Actu­al­ly, a book would have to be com­pressed to such an infin­i­tes­i­mal size that if it were to form a black hole, you’d be hard pressed to notice it, I bet.)

Such is the case at the Large Hadron Col­lid­er as well. Black holes may very well be formed, but they cer­tain­ly aren’t going to destroy the earth. Remem­ber: Even if our own sun col­lapsed into a black hole, Earth would con­tin­ue orbit­ing it as usu­al — the sun’s grav­i­ty would remain constant.

So don’t fret this Octo­ber. Unless you’re wor­ried about an out-of-con­trol anti­mat­ter reaction. ;)

Just kid­ding!

Large Hadron Collider — XKCD #401
Large Hadron Col­lid­er — XKCD #401

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3 responses to “Your Friend the Black Hole”

  1. torrant Avatar
    torrant

    The Large Hadron Col­lid­er will only pro­duce black holes if some of the the­o­ries of mul­ti­ple dimen­sions of the uni­verse turn out to be true. The pro­duc­tion of black holes will sub­stan­ti­ate the the­o­ries pre­dic­tions. Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can has an arti­cle describ­ing how col­laps­ing stars can pro­duce black holes or alter­na­tive­ly “naked singularities”.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=naked-singularities

    Per­haps LHC will pro­duce both. For­tu­nate­ly, naked sin­gu­lar­i­ties allow mat­ter to pass through them, so they won’t be gob­bling up any­thing. They are sim­i­lar to black holes, but with­out the event hori­zon. That is what makes them naked. By the way, since they are naked there are of course pic­tures! Be sure to check out the slide show at the bot­tom of the page linked above!!!

  2. Rick Beckman Avatar

    I’ve read enough Lawrence Krauss, Michio Kaku, and Stephen Hawk­ing to know that what­ev­er the Large Hadron Col­lid­er does, it’s going to be freak­ing awe­some, as par­ti­cle physics typ­i­cal­ly can’t help but being. :)

  3. David Avatar

    It’s fun­ny that peo­ple are so worked up over the LHC. Cos­mic rays and par­ti­cles have been per­form­ing these same exper­i­ments (albeit in an uncon­trolled and untestable envi­ron­ment) since the begin­ning of the uni­verse. And, they’re going on now.

    Even if they did man­age to gen­er­ate anti­mat­ter as a result of col­li­sions, I’m sit­ting in the camp of rel­a­tive­ly unin­formed peo­ple who would pro­pose the anti­mat­ter to sim­ply poof into its base com­po­nents, split­ting the match­ing atom (like­ly hydro­gen from the pro­ton stream) and form­ing a rapid­ly dis­si­pat­ing blip of ener­gy. It like­ly would not cause a chain reac­tion, unless enough anti­mat­ter was produced.

    In some­what sim­i­lar physics exper­i­ments, we see that split­ting one atom of hydro­gen does almost noth­ing. The pow­er of the atom­ic (or hydro­gen) bomb lies in split­ting mul­ti­ple atoms through a chained process.

    But, this is all just head­space exper­i­men­ta­tion. Octo­ber will be much more interesting.

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Rick Beckman