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Atom Smasher May Create "Black Saturns" 423

David Shiga writes "If we ever make black holes on Earth, they might be much stranger objects than the star-swallowing monsters known to exist in space. According to a new theory, any black hole that pops out of the Large Hadron Collider under construction in Switzerland might be surrounded by a black ring — forming a microscopic 'black Saturn'. This could happen if extra dimensions exist, as string theory suggests, and if they are large enough." An evocative excerpt from the article: "...there is an outside chance that in a few years in a tunnel near Geneva, physicists will make a black hole far smaller than a proton and circled by a squashed four-dimensional black doughnut."
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Atom Smasher May Create "Black Saturns"

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  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:27PM (#18005842)
    mmmmmmmmmmmm, higher dimensional.
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:30PM (#18005868)
    black saturn []
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The funny part is, even though the relation you are joking about is obviously not the original intent; the article doesn't do much better. The need to relate a look or description to a common object is very standard in media. Saturn is not the only object surround by a ring, nor does it really relate to the ring that the article is taking about. It just make a more personal relationship to the concept by stating that it's like Saturn.

    • by Drooling Iguana ( 61479 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:10PM (#18006328)
      Here's a better picture: .

      Note: Image has been heavily magnified.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:31PM (#18005874) Homepage Journal
    Are you actually suggesting that string theory might actually predict something that the standard model doesn't, and what it predicts might actually be measurable?! That's crazy talk! Next you'll be suggesting that string theory is disprovable and therefore actually science. I'll believe it when it happens.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dr. Spork ( 142693 )
      Yeah, I'm pretty confident that it won't happen, and that it won't slow down even one of those string-theory-mystics that make up today's physics departments. They'll just be like "Oh, our theory only really makes the predictions that are actually observed." But I hope my cynicism is misplaced!
      • But I hope my cynicism is misplaced!
        It is. Learn some physics. I don't like string theory either, but at least I actually have legitimate reasons for not liking it. "It's not science!!1one lol!" is not one of them.
    • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:37PM (#18005934) Homepage
      We are the String Theorists. You will be assimilated. Resistance is non-dimensionable!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:40PM (#18005970)
      That was what I thought when I read the article. One of the major complaints about string theory has been that there's supposedly no way to test it experimentally. But the article says such a structure could only exist if there are really four dimensions. So if we succeed in creating one, would that be an experimental confirmation of string theory? Seems to me, at the very least it would confirm one of the major premises.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        4 dimensions


      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:50PM (#18007540)
        String theory makes several predictions that are expected to be testable in the near future. String theory being untestable is a pop science myth that distorts the underlying truth -- string theory unfortunately has lots of parameters that need to be tuned.
    • by maynard ( 3337 ) <j DOT maynard DO ... AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:43PM (#18006006) Journal
      Testing String Theory: []

      Physicists create string theory test

      PITTSBURGH, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Scientists have long questioned the validity of "string theory" and now U.S. physicists have created a test for the controversial "theory of everything."

      [... click link to read article]
    • Large Extra-Dimensions are a set of theories inspired by string theory...sort of like a Hollywood movie that is "inspired by" true events. While finding them would certainly make people take more interest in string theory, they would not confirm nor deny string theory - just like you may get a hint of the "true events" from a Hollywood movie but it is in no way an accurate picture of what really happened. So sorry to disappoint you but this would still not confirmation of strings - just a hint that maybe we
  • by HomelessInLaJolla ( 1026842 ) * <> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:31PM (#18005880) Homepage Journal
    I can't read the fine article because CyberSitter blocks it. However, I did remember an article a while back that changed the way black holes were perceived to operate.

    Hm. Maybe google [] will help me to remember what it was. Oh yes. There [] it is. Darn. CyberSitter blocks loading that page. I know, user prefs, threshold 5. There we go. Now I can at least see the summary. Click, read, yep, that's the one I remember. Now, Samir Mathur, I remember a very nice .pdf showing his original hand-drawn representation along with some of the mathematical principles behind the whole "there is no true event horizon" hypothesis. Where was that []? Ah. There we go [].

    Someone please tell me how the current article lines up with these from years past. Please try to do so without profanity so that I can click my comment and read the reply without CyberSitter dumping the page.
  • by Synesthesiatic ( 679680 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:33PM (#18005898) Homepage
    Wait, so Homer was right about the donut shaped universe []? Damn Hawking, always taking credit for other people's ideas!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:50PM (#18006092)
    ...the dreaded Black Uranus.

    That is something you don't want anywhere near you.
  • And then we'd never know, would we? Where's that History Eraser Button when you need it most?
  • by NetSettler ( 460623 ) * <> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:57PM (#18006170) Homepage Journal

    From the article:

    ... a black hole far smaller than a proton and circled by a squashed four-dimensional black doughnut ...

    I get the impression that the "small size" thing is supposed to be reassuring. But aren't all black holes comparatively small, compared to what they've had for lunch? How big would a black hole be that, say, had accidentally swallowed the Earth? And I suppose mass should also reassure me. But the thing is, my gradeschool science oversimplification of black holes said their defining characteristic was not their mass but their insatiable, chain-reaction-like desire to swallow more mass ... like a rolling snowball.

    And it's all well and good to say some theoretical rays we've never seen before will magically swing in at the end and save us, but... Since this is testing an unproven theory and not applying a well-understood theory, what are the procedures for evaluating the level of risk?

    And what is the recourse of those who don't agree? Science has ethical guidelines for not experimenting on humans because of risk. Does the fact that humans are in the next room ... or the next building ... or the next city, "safely away" from the black hole being created, mean that there is no ethical obligation for informed consent? It would seem like there are more rules governing putting make-up on a rat than there are on this kind of experimentation...

    I don't know the details of this kind of thing. I just have to trust someone doing them does. But I wonder exactly what I'm trusting. Anyone know?

    • by Servo ( 9177 )
      What if it were a white hole? Would you be so quick to start this kind of fear mongering? Not all scientists are racists, ya know!
    • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:16PM (#18006376) Journal
      The short answer is: don't worry.

      All black holes emit "Hawking radiation []", which causes them to slowly lose mass. For black holes below a certain size, this evaporation due to Hawking radiation will be so fast that they won't even have a chance to grow through matter accumulation before they evaporate into nothing. I know this doesn't match up with the pop-science description of black holes--where they consume all matter around them until nothing is left--but suffice it to say that the pop-science explanation leaves out many of the important details.

      So, again, the creation of micro-black-holes is nothing to worry about. Remember that although the energies in the LHC are really massive, there are other similarly high-energy natural events occuring throughout the universe, and they appear not to routinely form micro-black-holes that consume everything around them. Creating stable (i.e.: big) black holes appears to be a comparatively rare event.

      Some people are not appeased by the above arguments and point out that our current theory of particle physics may be lacking in some unforseen way, and we will destroy ourselves. Then again, the only reason to think a black hole will form at all is because of the current theory of particle physics. If that theory is wrong, it's more likely that... well... no black hole will form at all. (Again, look around the universe and notice the distinct lack of universe-consuming mega-black-holes.)
      • "Some people are not appeased by the above arguments and point out that our current theory of particle physics may be lacking in some unforseen way, and we will destroy ourselves." ... leading me to postulate a new theory on why, to date, we've found no evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. There is an unavoidable technology track where civilizations start playing with high energy physics and figure they can in fact produce a micro black hole and that it will be safe. Each time they are
    • by tftp ( 111690 )
      Black holes are theorized to evaporate, and the smaller they get the faster they evaporate. However this is an unproven theory [], and if it is seriously incorrect then we may have a problem.

      On the other hand, if the scientists accidentally produce a constantly growing black hole that orbits above and through the planet and makes holes in everything then at least these scientists' theories will be proven wrong, and they will be ashamed of their stupidity for the rest of their lives.

  • """
    This could happen if extra dimensions exist, as string theory suggests, and if they are large enough.

    Why is it that every single time that something suggests something that string theory "predicts" but has many many other explanations, it's touted as a victory for evidence of string theory? (btw this is similar thinking to that of "Intelligent Design" folks) In this case, there are many other theories that have more dimensions.

    Basically, IF this is happens, it is only a HINT that some theory that has
  • by Glowing Fish ( 155236 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:02PM (#18006226) Homepage
    Black Saturn, the street tough PI that got kicked off the force for refusing to go along with some crooked cops. Now, he dispenses his own brand of street justice, but has a heart of gold that melts all the ladies.
  • "Thrice Upon A Time" (Score:3, Informative)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:03PM (#18006240) Homepage
    This had been discussed here [], and the plan to create microscopic black holes on Earth is something to be wary of.
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:28PM (#18006490)
    If you think Lake Geneva and Lake Constance are large, wait until you see Lake Switzerland.
  • e-mail (Score:2, Funny)


    priority: highest

    re: micro saturn black holes

    1. Formation confirmed

    2. Evaporation confirmed not!!!!!!!!

  • The Black Saturn's.

    We're really small. Our music sucks you in, and we're growing.
  • Until now, String Theory has been that, a theory. It has been endless multidimensional mathmetics, on might cynically say to generate Phd's. Now an experiment is on the horizon which could be used to prove/disprove string theory. This should be interesting, especially if the extra dimensions are not observed.

    Get a brane []! -- String theory humor
  • FTFA: The spinning ring would also drag space-time around with it, making the central black hole spin as well.

    Perhaps I'm too Newtonian in my thinking here but, in order to conserve the angular momentum (presumably zero) of the particles that went into the collision, wouldn't the central black hole have to spin in the opposite direction of the ring? In that case, since we've got two objects dragging space-time in opposite directions, what happens to space-time in the space between?

    Or, since we are t
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      no no no you iggorant fool The strings are dangling into the hole and through the process of reverse obfusification the angular momentus is transparently reversified to nullify the boolshiteicus component according to the theory of string-a-lingus-bodingus.
  • Not that easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:18PM (#18006920)
    If it was that easy to make black holes, then cosmic rays could cause black holes...

    I think Prof Hawking said that a collider capable of making black holes, would be the size of the solar system.
  • by shotgunefx ( 239460 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @06:24AM (#18009584) Journal
    But could it create a Black Venus (NWS) []?

    Funny how some childhood skinemax memories can stick in your brain.
  • John Titor Anyone?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Steeltoe ( 98226 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @09:03AM (#18010354) Homepage
    If youre new to John Titor, heres the complete archive of his texts: _project.html []

    An interesting interview with Larry Flynt: []

    I have my fair deal of scepticism against John Titor and the claims he has traveled from the future to fetch an old IBM machine besides testing the time-machine, but so much that he wrote about in 2000-2001 thereabouts, has in fact come true. These are just the broad ones: []

    This is yet another drop in this mans pretty hefty prediction bucket. At the time of this link, there were no mentions of black holes being generated in the new smasher, but now it seems that this too will come true (if possible), and very much in the same timeframe as predicted too! g1 []

    This is the person who even told Hawking was wrong, and later Hawkin conceded he was wrong on the subject! cgi?noframes;read=165532 []

    Time Traveller The Movie. John Titor doesnt HAVE to be proven correct. WE can DO something about it, starting with ourselves! tml []

    A site that is covering news in the media and corelating it with Titors predictions: []

    I dont claim any of this is true, in whatever what you regard as truth, but when reading this, it is startling how accurate the person who wrote those messages in 2000-2001, is describing the trends of our society, problems of the US, Mac Cow Disease, CERN beginning to experiment with mini-black holes, and much more.. For the sake of our planet, and our future, it is worth considering living as THOUGH weve already been through this, than not. He describes a more primitive, but also a more enlightened society if you read the archives from the first link.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"