Settled Science that Is 'Controversial'

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Large Hadron Collider Won't Destroy Earth

People often fear what they don't understand, and the mind-bending particle physics being conducted at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tends to fall into that category.

In a circular tunnel 17 miles in circumference, powerful magnets accelerate protons and other miniscule particles to immense speeds. Eventually the particles slam into each other, and these collisions yield brand new particles. However, some people fear that they will give rise to black holes that will proceed to swallow the Earth.

But to the best of our knowledge, this is impossible. Black holes form when massive stars die out and collapse in upon themselves, becoming so dense that light itself cannot escape. If black holes could somehow form from particle collisions, there should be a lot more of them in the universe, as cosmic rays collide all the time, sometimes at speeds far greater than those mustered at the LHC.

Since 2008, no black holes have been spawned at the LHC. This has actually saddened some scientists. As a physicist at Fermilab recently told Nautilus, if it were found that black holes could somehow form from particle collisions, that would be a revolutionary discovery. It might even merit a Nobel Prize!

(Image: CERN)

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