Fermilab? That Old Piece of Junk?

It seems that the old particle accelerator at Fermilab is soon to be outdone again. After being surpassed by the Large Hadron Collider (which is supposed to come online late this year, I think), the dowdy old American accelerator will now be in competition with the International Linear Collider. Of course, poor old Fermilab may get lucky: it’s been chosen as one of the potential sites for the construction of the new machine. Actually, I’ve always been partial to CERN, which may or may not be one of the potential sites.

Well, since I’m on the subject of the LHC and CERN, I must express a bit of a concern I’ve been harboring ever since I heard about the LHC. First, some background is needed: the LHC is a segment of the CERN particle accelerator which is (CERN hopes) to be the most powerful particle collider on Earth. Powerful enough, in fact, that the designers expect that it will create a subatomic black hole. Therein lies my concern: I am perfectly aware that black holes evaporate and disappear by emitting Hawking radiation until they’re gone, but I would certainly hope that it will evaporate quickly. You see, if the little black hole lasts long enough, it could begin consuming particles in the chamber, drift out of the chamber, and begin consuming surface material. This would happen fairly quickly, and the gravitational effects would increase exponentially until most or all of the planet had ben consumed. So I certainly hope that they’ve calculated the evaporation time quite precisely. I also hope they finally learn something about the veracity of string theory.


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