A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

The safety of switching on the Large Hadron Collider

August 20, 2008

Most people interested in the Large Hadron Collider have heard about recent grumblings from a small, dedicated cadre who believe that the risks of starting up the LHC are unacceptable, primarily because they think it could create microscopic black holes that would destroy the Earth.

Although this argument had been refuted many times, and repeated safety studies commissioned by CERN have agreed that the risk is negligible, a new essay is well worth reading. Michael Peskin, from Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, has penned a viewpoint for the American Physical Society's new online publication, titled Physics.

In it, he discusses the recent technical paper by Giddings and Mangano (G&M) on the risks of black hole production at the LHC. The paper itself is long and probably only readable by scientists, but Peskin's viewpoint summarises the main arguments admirably clearly. As readers following this topic know, there is a negligible risk, but Peskin relates the quite fascinating contortions that G&M go through to try to find a significant risk before disposing of all those arguments.

If you haven't read a discussion of this issue but would like to find out a bit more than the newspapers have discussed, Peskin's viewpoint is well worth reading.

There is a lot of good stuff in Physics and so you might want to add its RSS feed to your feed reader. And you do have symmetry breaking coming in by RSS to your feed reader already, don't you?

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