Here’s another obscure blast from the past – the European Organization for Nuclear Research, better-known by its initials (in French) CERN. Do you happen to remember the brief stir of publicity from around two years ago when that institution’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was finally built and could start smashing sub-atomic particles into each other along a 27 kilometer-circumference magnetic track? That fleeting bit of excitement (among those who cared, at least) quickly evaporated when the huge thing didn’t work quite right when they first flipped the proverbial switch, and so had to be repaired.
Don’t worry, though, because the scientists finally got the LHC to function properly late last year. Or rather, if you do need something to worry about, consider the possibility out of theoretical physics that has been looming ever since the LHC finally started operations, and which was also certainly known about before the gigantic thing was even built. When it smashes these sub-atomic particles into each other, you see, one by-product is black holes – small black holes, to be sure, but there has always been some possibility of one or more of them getting bigger and basically swallowing up the whole Earth. (more…)