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Investigating Artificial Black Holes 713

Posted by timothy
from the like-ghost-busters dept.
Robber Baron writes "I remember years ago watching a cartoon in which an inventor had managed to create 'portable holes.' Now along those lines, according to this story in the Christian Science Monitor, scientists are on the threshhold of developing the 'do-it-yourself black hole' (Well, no, it's not quite do-it yourself as you need a pretty large collider to pull it off.) They're hoping to use the new Large Hadron Collider at the European Center for Nuclear Research to create many tiny black holes and observe the Hawking Effect as they dissipate. Keep your shotgun handy though, as they are more than likely going to open up a portal into another dimension and all sorts of nasties are going to come pouring out."
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Investigating Artificial Black Holes

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  • by sweeney37 (325921) * <mikesweeney AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:11PM (#6043835) Homepage Journal
    Keep your shotgun handy though, as they are more than likely going to open up a portal into another dimension and all sorts of nasties are going to come pouring out.

    dear lord, haven't we learned our lesson from Doom [idsoftware.com], Stargate [stargate-sg1.com] and Half-Life [sierrastudios.com]?!

    science, it's done nothing but cause trouble.

    Mike
  • Is this dangerous? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sanity (1431) * on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:12PM (#6043844) Homepage Journal
    I always thought that if a black hole existed on Earth there would be a risk that it would start to pull in the matter around it, exponentially increasing its own mass and eventually sucking in the entire planet.

    I assume this won't happen, but can anyone explain why?

    • by Libor Vanek (248963) <libor,vanek&gmail,com> on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:20PM (#6043911) Homepage
      Just very short'n'simple - even such a massive accelator and/or collidator doesn't gain so much energy as most of the cosmic radiation rays. So - everything you can simulate there happens every day on the whole planet (but because you can't predict when and where you are unable to study it)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A very small (Planck-scale) black hole evaporates too quickly for that to happen.
    • by jericho4.0 (565125) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:22PM (#6043938)
      Top of my head, possibly wrong answer; Blackholes slowly evaporate over time, due to the Hawking Effect. As a hole loses mass, the effect goes faster. The amount of mass used in these experiments will result in a hole that evaporates in a tiny fraction of a second. In that short a span, there is not enough time to pull in enough mass to stop the evaporation.

      I still would not like to know the exact time of this experiment :-).

      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:28PM (#6043986) Journal
        But lets say a miny blackhole was formed on the edge of the accelerator. With more mass it would not evaporate quickly enough. Eventually within seconds would suck up the earth itself. By now it will be too big to evaporate because of the increase in mass.

        The hawking effect is only theory is in fact if your wrong we all perish. Sounds too risky for me.

        • by CrazyDuke (529195) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:53PM (#6044145)
          Matter is mostly empty space, so much so, that every time you touch something, there is a small amount of overlap before the electromagnetic repulsion of the electron shells is enough to stop it. If they are dealing with what I think they are (no I haven't RTFA yet), these are probably micro black holes that are subatomic in size.

          Even though the mass has colapsed, the black hole still has the mass of its creation (from the hadron collision). Think of it this way, if the sun suddenly collapsed in on itself and became a black hole (It doesn't have enough mass to do it itself, but lets just say.), the earth and all the other planets would still orbit it. They would not spontainiously be drawn to it more, for the sun, despite its change of state, still has the same mass.

          Taking these two points, the gravity effect on the surrounding matter is not enough to draw it into the black hole because gravity has very little effect on the subatomic level. So, the black hole would have to practically wander into other particles in order to gain mass. Except matter is mostly empty space, so that it is unlikely. Even if it does gain mass by colliding with another subatomic particle, the chances of it not disapainting before it smacks into another are very slim. I am not exact on the theories, but I think the probability is a technicality kind of like the one where it is technically possible to run through a wall without disturbing the wall (it is how diodes work).

          You may have a point if it does not dissapate, but even then, it is not as bad as you think.
          • by Dylan Zimmerman (607218) <Bob_Zimmerman@myrealbox. c o m> on Monday May 26, 2003 @11:44PM (#6044470)
            If I understand correctly, they plan to make some of those proton-sized toroidal black holes. They should only exist for a few billionths of a second before their gravity is no longer enough to maintain a Schwarzschild Radius and they simply become very massive subatomic particles.

            The temporal shear should only extend a few angstroms from the SR, so we don't really have to worry about it tearing stuff to pieces. Its gravity should only be a few nanometers per second squared any more than a few meters away from its surface, and that's barely detectable, so no worries there.

            We could actually learn quite a bit about space-time by observing these black holes.

            I have always wondered what happens beneath the Schwarzschild Radius. Since time dilation approaches infinity as you approach the Radius, wouldn't time be at a standstill inside the black hole? Therefore, material would accumulate at the surface and never move any further in because time stops for anything inside. You would get an infinitely thin layer of very high density right at the SR. Of course, since the more matter a black hole consumes, the more massive it becomes, the further its SR is from its center, so you wouldn't ever get a shell, you would find something more like a fog.

            If anyone knows that any of the above is wrong, then please reply and correct me. It just seems to be what would happen based on what I know of physics and relativity.
            • by mburns (246458)
              Time only stands still as seen from afar. Matter close to and within the black hole continues to experience the advancement of time until it hits the singularity.

              As for your notion of a shell, see Susskind's article, Sci. Am. April 1997 p. 52.

              You have duplicated part of his argument. Your fog notion is incorrect; the shell, as seen from afar, moves out with more mass accumulated. Susskind then notes that the shell does not appear at all to an observer following matter into the horizon, but that the she
    • by pVoid (607584) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:23PM (#6043950)
      Well, a black hole is just a critical amount of mass inside a critical diameter.

      It's like taking an apple, or if you want, the biggest freighter on earth, and compressing it to a microscopic size...

      The biggest freighter on earth isn't heavy enough to attract stuff around it... so the black hole it forms won't be either.

      Now that being said, I don't know how they intend to "stabilize" the black holes... because as you noticed, anything that touches it *will* be sucked into it, so what comes to my mind is a black hole the size of an atom free falling all the way to the core of the earth, and starting to consume everything that touches it until it eats up everything...

      And then we die. End of story.

      • by csguy314 (559705)
        This isn't really true. IANA physicist but I know black holes suck everything that reaches their event horizon because that is their Schwarzschild radius.
        The Schwarzschild radius is the distance from the center of something out to where nothing can escape it's gravitational pull. Everything that has mass should also have a Swarzschild radius. For all things, except black holes, that Schwarzschild radius is deep within the physical volume of space that the object occupies. Even for massive stars, the Schwar
    • I assume this won't happen, but can anyone explain why?

      Yes. Read the article before posting, that's how. <rolleyes>


      Because they are creating black holes smaller than the size of a proton, that lasts a fraction of a second. Since it's created in a vacuum, it dissipates before it has time to suck anything nearby in.

    • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:26PM (#6043973)
      The reference to the Hawkings Effect is the key. Steve H. has a well accepted theory that black holes leak. The smaller they are the faster they leak. (It's basically a quantum effect, if the black hole is low enough mass the singularity is close enough to the event horizon to let some matter tunnel out and escape. The event horizon shrinks further until the black hole evaporates.) If all goes right the holes we could create with our limited technology couldn't last long enough to cause any problems. This of course is all just theory, if he's wrong there will be hell to pay.
      • "If all goes right the holes we could create with our limited technology couldn't last long enough to cause any problems. This of course is all just theory, if he's wrong there will be hell to pay"

        Yes, If all goes right.....

        This is freaking me out.

      • by WhiteChocolate42 (618371) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @12:00AM (#6044549)

        The reference to the Hawkings Effect is the key. Steve H. has a well accepted theory that black holes leak. The smaller they are the faster they leak. (It's basically a quantum effect, if the black hole is low enough mass the singularity is close enough to the event horizon to let some matter tunnel out and escape. The event horizon shrinks further until the black hole evaporates.) If all goes right the holes we could create with our limited technology couldn't last long enough to cause any problems. This of course is all just theory, if he's wrong there will be hell to pay.

        First off, IANAQP (I am not a quantum physicist), but, that said, some corrections are in order... first of all black holes do not release matter as they dissipate, they release radiation (according to Dr. Hawking at least). Secondly, if he's wrong there won't be hell to pay, because the same theories that explain what black holes do are the theories that will allow this experiment to occur; in other words, we won't be able to create the black holes if the theories are wrong.

        Here's an question- since we put matter into the black hole and get out only radiation as it dissipates (or so the theory goes) could we theoretically create black-hole-driven power plants where we feed matter into black holes and harness the energy as it escapes? Or is the radiation created as the black hole collapses unusable as a source of energy? I suppose it would also depend on the amount of energy used to create the holes. And from a P.R. standpoint, the fact that many people (in the U.S. at least) are still scared of nuclear plants, and apparently even many slashdot readers think that tiny black holes function like ultra-powerful vacuum cleaners, could mean a little trouble getting the local black-hole power plant approved.

        By the way, I highly recommend Dr. Hawking's book The Universe In A Nutshell. You can get it here [amazon.com]. It's a lot easier to swallow than his previous book, and gets into many of the more interesting theories in science today without involving too much math. Topics covered include black holes, time travel, wormholes, etc.

    • Yes, I think so.

      While blackholes do indeed "consume" matter, they also radiate energy (which via Einstein's E=mc^2 is the same stuff).

      To understand Hawking radiation, image looking very closely at the event horizon of the blackhole. Everything on one side is doomed to be sucked in, while on the other, there is a chance it can escape.

      Due to the massive gravitational field particles are being torn apart and there is a lot of energy floating around. This high energy region causes particle/anti-particle pai
    • Aside (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mindstrm (20013) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:47PM (#6044107)
      from all the other reasons, it's because a black hole doens't have any magic "sucking powers"

      Beyond the event horizon, it acts as any other massive body.

      A black hole the same size mass as the sun would be much smaller, but at our distance from it, gravity would be the same, so the earth would continue to orbit...

      That kind of thing.

      So would a little black hole be dangerous? Sure.. you have to have a way to keep it in place, with electric fields or whatever... but other than that... it's not really a big issue.
      Beyond it's event horizon, a black hole is just another massive object.

    • From the article.

      "But wait", I hear you say, "Has anyone considered that creating artificial black holes might not be the best idea?" The idea of creating black holes in the laboratory has to give one pause. I mean, how can anyone resist the urge to imagine future headlines like "Artificial Black Hole Escapes Laboratory, Eats Chicago" or some such thing? In reality, there is no risk posed by creating artificial black holes, at least not in the manner planned with the LHC. The black holes produced at CERN will be millions of times smaller than the nucleus of an atom; too small to swallow much of anything. And they'll only live for a tiny fraction of a second, too short a time to swallow anything around them even if they wanted to. If it makes you feel any more comfortable, we're pretty sure that if the LHC can produce black holes, then so can cosmic rays, high-energy particles that smash into our atmosphere every day. There are probably a few tiny black holes forming and dying far above you right now. So I think we should all relax, fire up the Large Hadron Collider, and get ready for a view of the universe that we've never seen before.

    • Simple - the black holes are being made from nanoscopic amounts of matter. You can expect as much gravity from these black holes as you can from the original matter they are using.

      There is a much higher risk of being sucked into a empty soda can.
    • by GMontag (42283) <(moc.gatnomyug) (ta) (gatnomg)> on Monday May 26, 2003 @11:23PM (#6044361) Homepage Journal
      No, you have it backwards.

      If they make a black hole at the surface of the earth all the gravity runs out and we can fly.
  • What if (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:13PM (#6043845)
    What if hawking was wrong, and hawking radiation doesn't kill them off?
    Then how are we going to stop them from eating us all?
    • Re:What if (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:24PM (#6043960)
      What if hawking was wrong, and hawking radiation doesn't kill them off?

      Sue Hawking, duh.

  • Gordon, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Phosphor3k (542747) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:14PM (#6043855)
    You are late. They were expecting you in the test chamber ten minutes ago. Suit up and proceed there immediately.
  • It was Wile E Coyote (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enraged_jawa (641736) * on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:14PM (#6043862)
    I remember years ago watching a cartoon in which an inventor had managed to create 'portable holes.

    That was Wile E. Coyote in the Roadrunner, first introduced in the 1952 cartoon "Beep Beep".

    I think the Acme corporation has the patent on them, along with Jet powered Roller Skates, Coyote-sized Slingshots, Dehydrated Boulders, Do-It-Yourself Tornadoes, spring-loaded Boxing Gloves, dropping Anvils from Tightropes, Jet-propelled Pogo sticks and Unicycles, and Fake Railroad Crossings.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:15PM (#6043865)
    Just don't put your portable hole inside a bag of holding.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:15PM (#6043873)
    my ex always told me that she was like a black hole... attracting all type of shit... I guess I wasn't enough of a shit, so I managed to escape. :)
  • Boooooom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frenztech (302220) <{gro.yznerf} {ta} {todhsals}> on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:18PM (#6043899) Homepage
    So...

    a) How long does it take one of these micro blackholes to decay. and...

    b) Are they positive that a blackhole will just decay nicely. The big bang only took one particle supposedly, so...what happens when a blackhole pulls in upon itself? Boom?
    • Re:Boooooom (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mindstrm (20013) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:50PM (#6044131)
      No... the big bang didn't just take "one particle".

      It's just that if we follow the maths backwards, we end up at a point where all 4 dimensions (Or more, depending on your theory) are infininitely small, and there is no such thing as time or distance.

  • Whoa... (Score:4, Funny)

    by praxim (117485) <pat@NOspaM.thepatsite.com> on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:19PM (#6043900) Homepage
    Please tell me I'm not the only one to read that as "Large Hardon Collider."

    It must be the Slashdot->Goatse.cx->Giver thing. I need to get out more.
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:20PM (#6043910) Homepage
    Motto over the European Center for Nuclear Research:

    "Liberate tutemet ex inferis."

    No wonder the Christian Science Monitor picked this one up. ;)
  • by Pall Agamemnides (673074) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:21PM (#6043920)
    I believe someone already make an artificial black hole about two or three years ago... It was located at the New York Stock Exchange.
  • If scientists could do this, and black holes can be used as wormholes, then maybe we can travel time?

    What would be worse, a gray goo scenario gone bad in the laboratory, or a home-made black hole gone bad?

    I choose the black hole.

  • I believe this was the reason the brookhaven institute in Long Island was shutdown.

    This could easily wipe out every living life form on Earth. Why? just for some stupid experiment.

    Maybe the reason why seti has not found any alien life forms is because they run experiments like this and wipe themselves out.

    We should not play with the fabric of time and space.

    • First, the Brookhaven National Laboratoy is NOT shutdown - see http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/about_BNL.htm). They are also doing heavy ion collider research, attempting to create a quark-gluon plasma and they have published a paper on why it will NOT create black holes or open the fabic of space and time and destory the earth. If I am wrong, please post the URL of the announcement - I missed it.

      But this news that CERN might create black holes IS distrubing. Even if they do have a short, short half-life - what
    • Actually, they are all clustered up in the Andromeda galaxy, all the civilizations of the cosmos, all giggling behind tenticles, fronds and telepathically, and then hysterically shusshing each other: "Tee hee! They're about to do it! I can't wait to see the look on their faces! Hush now... we don't want them to hear us!".

      --
      Evan

    • by jgardn (539054) <jgardn@alumni.washington.edu> on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @05:40AM (#6045991) Homepage Journal
      IAAP -- I am a Physicist.

      Environmentalism is leaking to the cosmic ray / subatomic particle world! Pretty soon, they will be saying "Save the muon!" and "Stop abusing our natural resources -- don't harvest photons!" I can't wait for the day when they will try to elevate the particles to be on par with humans, like they are doing with monkeys, dogs, and fish.

      And that whole "we shouldn't play with the fabric of space and time" crap -- Okay. Let's stop playing with the fabric of space and time. Everyone, you must cease existing immediately, but without releasing any radiation at all. Any attempts at motion -- even very slight or slow, will also disrupt the fabric of space and time, so you must do this without moving any parts of your body. There, now that we have prevented anyone from disrupting the space time continuum, we should probably move to eliminate the earth, the sun, and all the planets as well. There's no telling what their enormous gravitational fields could do to space-time around them!

      Why am I being so foolish? Because everything you do -- everything you are -- disrupts the space-time continuum. In fact, some physicists believe that matter and energy are just folds or tears in the space time continuum. It was Einstein who discovered that space-time wasn't as continous as we had hoped, both from a Relativistic notion, and from a gravitational notion. But it is these inconsistencies that make life, and all existence, possible.

      I think it is really sad that so many uneducated people want to get involved in this discussion, when they have nothing to add and gain nothing from hearing the experts. It's like 40 years ago when the mention of "radiation" and "radioactivity" would send common folk running in fear. Now it's just "black holes" and "particle accelerators".

      Let me rephrase that in plain English: Don't tell me what I can and can't do unless you take the time to learn about it. After all, you would hate to have the Pope come and say "You shouldn't clone in Java and other programming languages. Cloning is wrong."
  • Cartoon (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Someone above mentioned Acme Co. for creating this, but I also clearly remember seeing this done in a Pink Panther cartoon when I was quite young.

    At least they can't patent it, as there is clearly a lot of prior art. :)
  • Old News (Score:5, Funny)

    by Boglin (517490) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:31PM (#6044011) Homepage Journal
    These scientist want to study structure which anything can enter, but nothing can leave? /dev/null
  • In all seriousness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xihr (556141) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:42PM (#6044074) Homepage
    Natural cosmic ray (probably created by supernovae or hypernovae) are far more energetic than any puny little collision we can muster. Concerns about doing something bad because of our particle collider experiences is unwarranted; if something bad were potentially laying in wait, it would have already been sprung billions of years ago from cosmic rays events. The most energetic cosmic ray -- consisting of a single proton -- had the kinetic energy of a hard-thrown fastball.
    • by PSC (107496) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @05:00AM (#6045879)
      Natural cosmic ray (probably created by supernovae or hypernovae) are far more energetic than any puny little collision we can muster.

      First off, the origin of 10^20 eV cosmics is not at all understood. The Auger experiment [auger.org] for example is investigating this question.

      Second, those very high energetic cosmic particles crash into earth (or whatever object in their path), which is basically at rest (compared to the speed of the cosmics). In particle physics, this is called "fixed target mode". Since both energy and momentum are conserved in the crash, the particles produced in the collision are not at rest but must carry the momentum of the cosmics (think billard). Thus, only a small part of the energy of the cosmics is avalable for forming new objects, namely sqrt(E), which is only 10 GeV, well within range of terrestral accelerators since over 10 years. The rest of the cosmics' energy just propels the new objects.

      The Large Hadron Collider at CERN will crash protons at 7 TeV energy against other protons of the same energy/speed but opposite direction. This is called "collider mode", and the entire energy of 2x7=14 TeV is available for new objects.

      (Well, not really, since protons are themselves compound objects, made of 3 quarks and lots of "gluons" which glue the quarks together. So really its only a quark-quark or gluon-gluon collision with less than a sixth of 14 TeV but still more than the 10 GeV above.)

      There is of course the possibility of a cosmic particle colliding with another cosmic particle, but given the rate of 5 of those cosmics per 1000 km^2 per year, and the very low cross section of these high energetic particles, this isn't going to happen very often :-)
  • by djupedal (584558) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:43PM (#6044082)
    Bugs Bunny used these to escape from E. Fudd. Nothing new about them, then :)
  • by Muhammar (659468) on Monday May 26, 2003 @10:49PM (#6044119)
    Here is an old czech folk song (it actually rhymes in original)

    "We used to have a grandpa and he was getting pretty old. One day in July - early morning -
    he went into the cellar - to get a pitchfork
    for haymaking. But he never made it back, it looks like that he has vanished for good.

    Chorus: "We have a small black hole in the cellar.
    It eats everything it finds and it has no restraint. Grandma, please don't go there for coal - or it will eat you too - and police will never ever find you!"

    Scientists came from far away - and from near too, grandma is nervous and beats us all, the kids. She is all alone there to do the cleaning and taking care of kitchen - while grandpa sits in the cellar and is infinitely heavy.

    Chorus: "We have a small black hole...

    Don't worry grandma, please don't despair, my wife is making the lunch. Her food is usualy quite terrible and I am gonna use it to feed the black hole. So I fed the leftovers from lunch to the black hole and it threw up everything including the grandpa. Then I took the chaisaw and cut the hole into pieces. And so the man won again over mysterious forces.
  • First they want to replace our GPS, now they want to open a gateway to hell. Please Stop Europe!!! Just fade into the history books.
  • by mdubinko (459807) on Monday May 26, 2003 @11:03PM (#6044217) Homepage
    Something I've wondered about: Electrons definately have mass, and seem to have a zero physical size.

    So, why are they not black hole singularities with infinite mass? Why don't they evaporate in a puff of Hawking radiation?
  • wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by tempny (602740) on Monday May 26, 2003 @11:07PM (#6044245)
    I honestly don't think I've ever seen this many paranoid, uninformed, and irrational responses to one slashdot story. And I am aware of how many of those there usually are.

    People almost sound as if ms were trying to make these black holes.
  • by m1a1 (622864) on Monday May 26, 2003 @11:25PM (#6044369)
    A lot of people are mucking up a fuss about the black hole sucking everything up. It should be pointed out that these claims are by and large ridiculous.

    It seems to be a mistaken idea that the gravity of an object is determined by its density. This obviously isn't so. Two electrons collided in a collider at high energy still have the mass of two electrons. Even if they are crunched into a "black hole" the gravity is not enough to suck everything into it anymore than two electrons sitting next to each other could suck everything up.
  • Eddington limit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dark-br (473115) on Monday May 26, 2003 @11:25PM (#6044373) Homepage
    Just speculating, but since black holes do evaporate, and the smaller they are the faster they evaporate, I wonder what the implications of evaporation would be in the presense of an acretion disk.

    Given that in the process of evaporation, a black hole emits radiation, at some point the radiation pressure from the evaporation would balance out the force of gravity pulling matter into the black hole so then the black hole might stabilize in size.

    Surely they'll have named that limit already, but I don't think it's the same as the eddington limit.

    Or perhaps there won't be a limit here because the cross section area of the acretion disk would be so small compared to the surface area of the event horizon. (yes, I think that incoming matter would have to form a disk and not form an acretion shell)

  • insane (Score:3, Informative)

    by io333 (574963) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @12:05AM (#6044571)
    Read Steven King's "The Mist" (a shortstory).

    This is a bad idea.
  • Oh my. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NegativeK (547688) <tekarienNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @12:57AM (#6044828) Homepage
    I fear that this post may be lost in the numbers surrounding it, but it needs to be said. First off, I'd like to give an example of how utterly tiny this thing will be. If the sun were to turn into a black hole instantly, its event horizon would have a 3km radius. For the sun, that's extraordinarily tiny. According to the article, this thing should have the mass of a couple hundred protons. That's, in case you can comprehend these numbers, 1.67*10^-25. Now, the radius of this bugger will be that times 1.48*10^-27. Yeah. That's FREAKING TINY. 2.47*10^-52 tiny. Many many many orders of magnitude less than the Planck distance.

    Now, to address another issue. Hawking radiation is a pretty solidly entrenched idea. Particle and anti-particle pairs do form in space - the existance of the particles which are a part of it have been experimentally verified through the Casimir effect, which is Googleable. So worries about that not happening are pretty unnecessary. And, as many others have stated, these microscopic black holes have been forming and evaporating all the times due to cosmic rays right above our heads.

    For those who wish to learn more about black hole physics, I have to suggest an excellent source for the layman: Jillian's Guide to Black Holes. [dragonweave.com] She can explain things in simple terms, and has some hefty gravitational wave and Penrose diagrams for the really interested.

    Oh, and P.S.: If the world really is sucked up by a black hole, it'll be a saving grace for all of the physicists who have been extraordinarily wrong for the past three-quarters of a century. ^-^

    And yet another P.S.: For those physicists out there, what interesting things start to happen with black holes at scales this much past the Planck length? I believe that I've read somewhere about quantum gravity showing up heavily, but I'm unsure. =)
  • by skraps (650379) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @01:21AM (#6044981)

    Anybody care to bet whether the black holes will be stable? I'm betting they will simply dissipate.

    If they gobble up the whole universe, I'll pay one million dollars to each any every one of you, honest. If not, then you'll owe me.

  • Proven? (Score:5, Informative)

    by adipocere (201135) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @01:32AM (#6045049)
    It's worth pointing out that Hawking Radiation has never been observed. It's theoretical. We've got some really solid evidence for the existence of black holes. We don't have anything for Hawking Radiation.

    Not long ago, I attended a symposium where the presenter made a decent case, using some of the same arguments from QM that Hawking used, plus some other bits (sorry, don't have the notes), that Hawking Radiation would actually be forbidden by other physical laws. While the stuff at Ph.D. level and beyond me, it wasn't for the rest of the audience - and they couldn't poke any holes in it right away. Or by the end of the Q and A session.

    Is it fringe? Sure. Be nice to verify, though, in the face of what could be a world-ending event. If black holes exist sans Hawking Radiation, we'd be in quite a bit of trouble upon the production of even the smallest one. Probably wise to check that little problem out. I'm not advising doing anything wacky and superparanoid, like building it on the Moon

    Scientific method is great, but when it comes to doing planet-wide experiments, you get a sample size of 1 and no control group. Oh, and no "do-overs." This is Chicken Little, signing off.

    • Re:Proven? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not long ago, I attended a symposium where the presenter made a decent case, using some of the same arguments from QM that Hawking used, plus some other bits (sorry, don't have the notes), that Hawking Radiation would actually be forbidden by other physical laws. While the stuff at Ph.D. level and beyond me, it wasn't for the rest of the audience - and they couldn't poke any holes in it right away. Or by the end of the Q and A session.

      I've read at least four independent derivations of Hawking radiation,

    • Re:Proven? (Score:3, Informative)

      by praedor (218403)

      As is oft said, if black holes produced by a collider are dangerous, then it is already too late as the cosmic rays striking our atmosphere all day, every day, carry more energy by orders of magnitude than the energy of the best collider. Thus, these cosmic rays would already be producing a shower of black holes all day, every day. It must already be too late (if hawking radiation is incorrect).

      The only reasonable conclusion is that if they manage to produce any quantum black holes, which is what we're

  • Not likely to happen (Score:4, Informative)

    by SiliconEntity (448450) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @02:30AM (#6045296)
    The article doesn't make clear that this is an extremely speculative prediction which requires some highly nonstandard physics results. Indeed, if this accelerator (or cosmic rays for that matter) actually produces black holes it will undoubtedly be considered one of the greatest and most astounding physics discoveries of the past 100 years.

    The paper that started all this speculation (which is now presented as fact more often than not) is http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/hep-ph/0106219 [lanl.gov]. In that article, the authors explain that the model requires a version of the universe that has ten dimensions, arranged in such a way that the Planck mass, where gravity merges with other forces, is about 10^3 GeV. Standard physics says that the Planck mass is at 10^19 GeV. Their assumption is 16 orders of magnitude different from the conventional wisdom.

    The paper above concludes with the comment, "Collider study of black hole creation would certainly be an astounding pursuit". Indeed, the authors and experimentalists would be guaranteed Nobel prizes if black holes actually form.

    Unfortunately, popular articles gloss over the speculative nature of these predictions and we are told that the LHC "should be enough" to create black holes, and that cosmic rays are "probably" creating them right now. The levels of certainty implied by this wording could not be more misleading.
  • by Ed_Moyse (171820) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @03:17AM (#6045486) Homepage
    This is cool! I've come to work today and found you all talking about us!



    Many people have already pointed out that black holes are not going to destroy the earth, but I guess people might be interested in this [hef.kun.nl], which is a simulation of what a black hole event might look like. It shows an end-on view of the the ATLAS detector (picture [web.cern.ch]), with most of the noise and rubbish taken out.

    The curved, coloured lines are tracks left by charged particles. The green ring is the electromagnetic calorimeter, whilst the red ring is the hadronic calorimeter. Calorimeters just measure energy - so the histograms radiating out show how much energy was deposited at each point. So by looking at the histograms you can get an idea of how energetic the track was. Hope that makes sense!


    Incidentally, the picture is zoomed to show the interesting detail better. The detector is extremely large! Look here [atlasexperiment.org] for a picture that shows people standing next to it ... it's about 5 storeys high, and is in a cavern 100m underground which is about 13 storeys high. Oh, and I work on it...

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