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February 20, 1844: Birthday of Ludwig Boltzmann more: Today in Physics  





End of the World Update

April 2009

One of my brothers recently suggested that I should check for status updates at http://www.hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com/. In case the site has disappeared at some time when you read this, you can see a screenshot of the page as of April 2009 here.

I was amused to see that I could subscribe to the page. I didn't, but being a geek and all I decided to check the page source to see if there was anything interesting hidden:

According to the green text, it was requested. The rest of the source is amusing too, but you'll have to open it for yourself (I don't want to just copy someone else's work here).

I pointed out to my brother that you can hardly call something a status update when it only has one possible state. However, I think this website does merit some rambling thoughts on my part.

In fact, this was the first one of these articles that I ever wrote: Big Bang in a Test Tube?. I can't say it was my most successful page. I only ever received one email that I can remember. Someone who pointed out that in fact I was ignoring the fact that the hadron collider collisions would be in the center of mass frame and assured me that in fact top scientists were becoming more and more worried that in fact there is a significant chance that this machine would end the world. Now admittedly my PhD is in semiconductor Physics, so I'm quite willing to cede the point about center of mass frame meaning momentum conservation isn't an issue. I checked out the links he sent me and nowhere could I find his qualifications or specific "top scientists" who should know who were worried. Now you don't need to a PhD to be right and for the experts to be wrong, but when I'm not sure about something I'll bet on an expert's opinion over someone with no obvious credentials.

It did occur to me to wonder if a tiny black hole were somehow formed on earth, how long would it take to destroy the earth and would there be any possible recourse. It would have to get quite large before there would be substantial gravitational forces sucking other mass in. Has anyone projected a model for the timing of the earth being destroyed by such? Suppose it grew to the size of a gram or so - how big would it's event horizon be? What rate would mass (electrons etc.) be entering that causing it to grow? If we detected it at a small size, is there a way to move it? For example, embed it in a bucket of water and fire that off into space (NOTinto the sun!). I expect the event horizon would be extremely small, would it prefentially collide with electrons and hence charge up negative? If it is smaller than atoms would it fall through matter into the earth and hence be undetected until it was too big to do anything with? Maybe I should Google this, or maybe I'll just leave off with these questions and see if I can solicit more responses than my first article did...

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