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

3 thoughts on “Your Friend the Black Hole”

  1. 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. 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. 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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

the Rick Beckman archive
Scroll to Top