In recent years the scientific community is shaken with the new discoveries made by the Large Hadron Collider (or the LHC). As the name suggests, this collider is colossal. As large as having 27 km of circumference in a tunnel near the France-Switzerland border in Geneva. This machine has many superlatives related to it. It is the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, and the biggest single machine in the world, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) from 1998 to 2008
The scientists at CERN are trying to study the particles and their behavior by smashing them at very high speeds. The resultant decay particles obtained are very useful in predicting the existence of the particles which so far have been only proved in theory like the Higgs Boson or the god particle.
Apart from all the exciting discoveries and bunch of white lab coat-clad scientists, there is a group of people that firmly believes that the LHC will cause the early doom of our world. Even though these concerns are baseless, they are still so deep rooted that a man from Hawaii filed a court case against CERN in protest of experiments being conducted in 2012.
Here are a few myths which are usually marooned with the LHC
1. The LHC can create black holes
True. LHC can create Black Holes
Black holes are the classic space sci-fi movie villain that gobbles up everything like a monster. They are nothing but a region of intense gravity from which even photons can’t escape. The gravity is so strong because the mass density is infinite in that region. No wonder it sounds scary when you hear that the LHC can create black holes. But don’t worry these black holes are microscopic and highly unstable with a life span of a few milliseconds. Even if such a mini black hole manages to survive somehow, it can’t possibly suck up our world. It takes a star with a mass 1000 times larger than our sun to collapse and form a decent intimidating black hole.
2. The LHC is recreating the big bang.
The big bang is not something that we can recreate inside a 27 km ring. The LHC is just a particle collider. It is smashing particles at very high speeds to study what all particles were formed during the big bang. And hence help us understand the building blocks of our universe.
3. The LHC can create Vacuum Bubbles
Vacuum bubbles are what they sound like…bubbles of vacuum which keep on expanding with the speed of light until there is nothing left. They are theorized to form due to quantum fluctuations. However, scientists don’t think it is possible for us to create one anytime soon. “Most likely it will take 10 to the power 100 years [a one followed by 100 zeroes] for this to happen, so probably you shouldn’t sell your house, and you should continue to pay your taxes,” said Joseph Lykken. He is a theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. “On the other hand it may have already happened, and the bubble might be on its way here now. And you won’t know because it’s going at the speed of light, so there’s not going to be any warning”.
It is sure comforting when scientists talk about the possibilities on ‘the other hand’ while trying to assure you that there is no impending doomsday coming along.
4. Scientists are working to crack open a new dimension
This one has to be the most fictitious myth on the list. Scientists probably wish that finding a new dimension would be as easy as smashing particles. The theory of parallel universes and alternate dimensions has been around for quite some time now, but no substantial evidence has been established yet.
5. Lethal Cosmic Rays
Just like any other particle collider LHC dose recreate the natural phenomenon of cosmic rays under controlled lab conditions. Cosmic rays are particles produced in outer space, some of which are accelerated to energies far exceeding those of the LHC .Particle collisions producing cosmic rays happen all the time in nature and the LHC won’t produce anything which hasn’t been already produced naturally. Collisions multiple times stronger than that at LHC have already taken place but our planet still exists.
6. Strange Matter
Strange matter is a particular form of quark matter, usually thought of as a “liquid” of up, down, and strange quarks. It is also known as strangelets. There are concerns regarding the strangelet eating up the nuclei of the ordinary matter and change everything into a big blob of hot dense gooey substance. However no strange matter has ever been found and it cannot remain in that state for more than a thousand-millionth of a second even in theory. Also Relativistic Heavy Ion colliders in USA has been running tests for last 8 years looking for strange matter and haven’t found any yet. Also LHC is twice as powerful as RHIC so there is a less likely chance they accidentally create strangelet.
7. Magnetic Monopole
Magnetic Monopoles are substances with a single pole which is said to cause proton decay. However, monopoles are too heavy to be produced at LHC. If they were light enough to make, then the cosmic collisions in the earth’s atmosphere should be making it and the gravity would be effectively trapping it in. The fact that the earth exists itself defeats the myth.