KentuckyFC writes: Now that the physicists have had their say over the safety of the Large Hadron Collider, a law professor has produced a comprehensive legal study addressing the legal issue that might arise were a court to deal with a request to halt a multi-billion-dollar particle-physics experiment (abstract). The legal issues make for startling reading. The analysis discusses the problem with expert witnesses which is that any particle physicists would be afraid for their livelihoods and anybody else afraid for their lives. How can such evidence be relied upon? It examines the well established legal argument that death is not a redressable injury under American tort law which could imply that the value in any cost benefit analysis of the future of the Earth after it had been destroyed is zero (there would be nobody to compensate). It asks whether state-of-the-art theoretical physics is really able to say that the LHC is safe given that a scientific theory that seems unassailable in one era may seem naive in the next. But most worrying of all, it points out that the safety analyses so far have all been done by CERN itself. The author says this: "It is remarkable to think for a moment how CERN's situation might be viewed if, instead of operating a particle accelerator, CERN was a developer of pharmaceuticals. If a pharmaceutical firm attempted to take a drug to market based on the safety assessment of a panel of five of its employees, who in turn relied on the scientific work of one employee and one other scientist with a pending visiting position with the firm--it would be a scandal of epic proportions." The question left open by the author is what verdict a court might reach.
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