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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...      Home login  
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 LeCutter
Joined: 2/25/2009
Msg: 87
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...Page 5 of 9    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Whilst I'm happy to see this has created a healthy and happy debate - for the most part - as a reader of Skeptical Inquirerer, I'm more concerned with "groupthink" mentality than anything else. In the Jan/Feb issue there was a wonderful article to this effect. They had a great article on Thomas Gold in this regard, where he went against convention several times - only to be called a quack and later proven correct. He demomstrated very clearly the danger of groupthink - something every boundry breaking scientist has had to deal with.

Now forgive the cheese, but after watching "The Core" the other night, it raised a good point where Stanley Tucci's character, Dr. Conrad Zimsky said....

Col. Robert Iverson: Forgive me, but, you know I'm not the expert here, but what if the core is thicker or thinner? I mean, what if it's not what you think it is? Isn't that going to affect the way the explosions are...
Dr. Conrad Zimsky: Yes, yes, yes, yes, and what if the core is made of cheese? This is all best guess commander. That's all science is, is best guess.
Col. Robert Iverson: So my best guess is you don't know.

Ok, that's fiction, but how closely art imitates life, n'est pas? I mean, as I stated prior, the scientists at the test of the first nuke were still betting if the atmosphere would go up in flame. That's a hell of a bet.

So now we're playing with something, with potentially massive and devestating energies, because we don't really understand it, yet the groupthink line is, 'Don't worry about it' even though they can't say for a certainty, one way or another, that it may be a major risk . And how many times has science said, 'Don't worry about it' when we should have. Thalidimide anyone? et al.

From everything I've read and understand, it's low to a point it's not worth worrying about. Yet, no one can say that for a certainty. I understand that risk brings reward, but the risk in this case can potenitally put everyone at risk. It just seems a big goddamn gamble when no one is certain about this either way, except the groupthink people who - history has shown - are wrong more often than right on many levels.
 RocketMan_Len
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 88
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 4/23/2010 4:28:07 AM

What we have there is a suggestion by some physicists that black hole production has significant probability.


No, what we have is the suggestion by some physicists that black hole production has a NON-ZERO probability. The ones I've found make statements along the lines of "while there is a minuscule chance that black holes may be produced, it should be taken into account" - it's a statement I agree with, but I also feel that the probability HAS been taken into account.


I never liked the idea of atmospheric nuclear testing, and it has turned out to be a bad idea.


It was a bad idea POLITICALLY... which has nothing to do with the physics involved. Like it or not, there is a difference. Agreeing with politicians and lawyers doesn't mean you were 'right' about the testing itself...

Like StarGazer said - if you have a concern, make the effort and take it to the World Court. The original article posted stated that the court that ruled the petition was outside its' jurisdiction was a State Court in Hawaii... so go up a couple of levels and try your arguments there.
 LeCutter
Joined: 2/25/2009
Msg: 89
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 4/29/2010 6:36:31 PM
If the physicists on the pro side knew for an absolute certainty there was no risk then they wouldn't need the LHC in the first place, would they? You don't build something like this because you already know the answers and the possible outcomes. And when you're messing around with energy on those scales - which no one has done before - than you can't be certain what the results will be. It's one thing to put a few guys in a rocket and send them off into space, the risk is to the guys in the rocket. Here we could potentially all be victims. If that's not a reason for pause, I don't know what is.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 90
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 4/29/2010 7:15:47 PM
It's one thing to put a few guys in a rocket and send them off into space, the risk is to the guys in the rocket.

Why is that different? If you've never done it before, how do you know that it won't cause the end of the world?

If that's not a reason for pause, I don't know what is.

Then I guess you should never do anything you haven't done before, since you can't possibly know what might happen.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 91
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 4/29/2010 7:26:56 PM
You all do realize that the initial discussions for the LHC date back to the '80s, don't you? That the initial agreement to begin construction was in the early '90s? So those of your firing off the warnings of doom, where were you then?

App, you indicate that the only thing the public will get out of this is a few articles for mass consumption and yet, from what I can tell, you're basing your objections on what you've read...in articles written for mass consumption. So on the one hand, your stating that this is not nearly enough information to gain a full appreciation of the science and the risks, but you're relying on that same source for your objections.

Do you not see the irony in that?
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 92
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 4/30/2010 8:16:02 PM

Do you not see the irony in that?


Oh, I see tremendous irony in this reply...


The fact that I've seen some of the descriptive simplifications is irrelevant. The point is that that's all that most people, including you, will be able to get from the experiments.


So what's good for the goose is definitely not good for the gander. Your objections and my support, though based on the same material in your estimation (never mind Abelian who's actually read the material from the source) don't carry the weight. Yours outweighs mine because....why? It's you? Yes. Likely, knowing your ego.

Bottom line, you don't know what you're talking about any better than most (and even less than several) on this thread. However, like chicken little, you insist on running around yelling "the world is ending! The world is ending!"

And the best you can come up with to be insulting is "Car-Chaser."

And you fancy yourself an intellectual.
 RocketMan_Len
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 93
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 4/30/2010 8:33:21 PM


Like StarGazer said - if you have a concern, make the effort and take it to the World Court.



Thanks for the advice. Would it offend you if I don't take it? As I told Stargazer, others have already pursued the case.


Why would I be offended...? Your response tells me two things, though...

1 - that you failed to realize that I suggested going to the WORLD court. All of the other legal challenges have been put to either State or Federal courts, which have no jurisdiction. Since the UN court has no such jurisdictional problems, that's the place you should go.

2 - you like to talk a good game, but you don't have the willingness to take action to support your beliefs. Have you AT LEAST donated some money to the people who put up the original legal challenges...? I guess it doesn't bother you enough to do more than cry about it...


You ludicrously seem to believe that I'm the only person to voice any concern about the LHC.


And YOU seem to believe that the arguments put forth by the opponents of the LHC are more valid than they actually are...
 desertrhino
Joined: 11/30/2007
Msg: 94
view profile
History
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/2/2010 1:43:33 PM

But, because of that delay, the added delay of waiting till we can build the thing in space isn't a significant, serious or problematic delay.


Horse-crap. If you can even remotely demonstrate this to be true, I will drop dead of shock. Even the best projections for reduced cost-to-orbit are about $3000 per kilogram in the next ten years. At $8 billion for the collider, try tacking on $3,000,000,000 plus costs for living facilities, etc... the ROI will simply cease to exist.

There were those who said detonating a nuclear device in the atmosphere would ignite it. Should we still be waiting for the spinoffs from the nuclear physics behind the development of nuclear weapons, some 70 years later? You'd be typing on an IBM Selectric, MAYBE.

There were those who said manned space exploration would expose us to alien viruses that would kill off humanity. Should we have waited on that, too? Never mind the $8-$10 return to the economy on every dollar spent in the space program.

Then let's consider those arguing AGAINST the LHC:

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_of_particle_collisions_at_the_Large_Hadron_Collider
Otto Rössler, a German chemistry professor at the University of Tübingen, argues that micro black holes created in the LHC could grow exponentially.[67][68][69][70][71] On 4 July 2008, Rössler met with a CERN physicist, Rolf Landua, with whom he discussed his safety concerns.[72] Following the meeting, Landua asked another expert, Hermann Nicolai, Director of the Albert Einstein Institute, in Germany, to examine Rössler's arguments.[72] Nicolai reviewed Otto Rössler's research paper on the safety of the LHC[68] and issued a statement highlighting logical inconsistencies and physical misunderstandings in Rössler's arguments.[73] Nicolai concluded that "this text would not pass the referee process in a serious journal."[71][73] Domenico Giulini also commented with Hermann Nicolai on Otto Rössler's thesis, concluding that "his argument concerns only the General Theory of Relativity (GRT), and makes no logical connection to LHC physics; the argument is not valid; the argument is not self-consistent."[74] On 1 August 2008, a group of German physicists, the Committee for Elementary Particle Physics (KET),[54] published an open letter further dismissing Rössler's concerns and carrying assurances that the LHC is safe.[2][55] Otto Rössler was due to meet Swiss president Pascal Couchepin in August 2008 to discuss this concern,[75] but it was later reported that the meeting had been canceled as it was believed Rössler and his fellow opponents would have used the meeting for their own publicity.[76]
On 10 August 2008, Rainer Plaga, a German astrophysicist, posted a research paper on the arXiv Web archive concluding that LHC safety studies have not definitely ruled out the potential catastrophic threat from microscopic black holes, including the possible danger from Hawking radiation emitted by black holes.[3][77][78][79] In a follow-up paper posted on the arXiv archive on 29 August 2008, Steven Giddings and Michelangelo Mangano, the authors of the research paper "Astrophysical implications of hypothetical stable TeV-scale black holes",[56] responded to Plaga's concerns.[80] They pointed out what they see as a basic inconsistency in Plaga's calculation, and argued that their own conclusions on the safety of the collider, as referred to in the LHC safety assessment (LSAG) report,[5] remain robust.[80] Giddings and Mangano also referred to the research paper "Exclusion of black hole disaster scenarios at the LHC", which relies on a number of new arguments to conclude that there is no risk due to mini black holes at the LHC.[3][59]. On 19 January 2009 Roberto Casadio, Sergio Fabi and Benjamin Harms posted on the arXiv a paper, later published on Physical Review D, ruling out the catastrophic growth of black holes in the scenario considered by Plaga.[81] In reaction to the criticisms, Plaga updated his paper on the arXiv on 26 September 2008 and again on 9 August 2009.[77] So far, Plaga's paper has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.


Let's not forget Walter Wagner, the guy with the undergraduate minor in Physics, who filed suit in Hawai'i against the LHC. He's allegedly got a law degree, too, and he didn't realize the issue of venue would arise? He's clearly just trying to get famous and make a mint for a couple of years on the talk circuit.

NO BIG NAMES in theoretical or particle physics have come out against the LHC. Why? Because it's safe. The only people who have come out against it are dilettantes or desperate attention whores, with educations in other fields and a desire to stand in the limelight for a few months.

Appeal to non-authority authorities. Red herring. Straw man. Scare-mongering. Come up with something new, would you?
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 95
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/3/2010 8:57:14 AM

You're missing the point of what I said. I said that you won't get the information from the LHC experiments because it will be beyond your level. You'll get simplified descriptive articles and books. My point is that there's nothing in it for you. ...


You seem to think that anyone who find fault in your "logic" somehow misses your point. Quite the opposite. Your point is invalid. You're not a physicist so you have no original research from which to base an objection. You, by your own admission, lack the technical know-how to read and understand original research from physicists including the mathematics.

So your source of your objections is...what? Popular articles.


My point is that there's nothing in it for you. ...except for possible technical innovations, a long way down the line, resulting from knowledge gained in the experiments. But, because of that delay, the added delay of waiting till we can build the thing in space isn't a significant, serious or problematic delay.


What, you mean like...the internet? Yeah, too bad we've had to wait so long for that!


Some of them hope to make black holes, some of which will likely be slow, gravitationally-capturable black holes, close to the Earth's surface, and they don't know what will happen, because, as you yourself said, the experiments could rewrite phyisics.


Given your own admitted lack of knowledge in physics, how do you define "likely?"


The problem is that no one knows what will happen. The problem is that there are physicists on both sides of the safety question. That isn't what I call safety-reassurance.


Again, how can you sit there and so vehemently defend the alarmist position you've taken when your arguments and sources for your objections have repeatedly been shown to be so flawed!?


Some who know the relevant physics say the LHC is safe. Some who know the relevant physics disagree, and contest the theories that say it's safe. That's the problem.


More accurate to say that MOST if not ALL who know the relevant physics say the LHC is safe. A vocal minority who DON'T know the relevant physics disagree, and contest the theories that say it's safe. But, as in so many things, if you're in the minority, shout louder and make your claims even more extreme. Then proceed to insult the intelligence of those who dare to disagree with you.

Either way, it's academic. The thing is turned on and doing science. I look forward to your admission that you were wrong when the end of the world fails to materialize.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 96
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/3/2010 12:51:54 PM

Similiarly ridiculous. Most things you haven't done before, like trying a new ice-cream flavor, have no suggested scenario for destroying the Earth.

Why not? The only evidence you have that it won't is a theoretical likelyhood based on what we know about physics. I can make up a theory that postulates the existence of some flavor of ice cream that no one has tried, but will destroy the world if tasted. There's no evidence that suggests such a theory isn't ridiculous, but as long as you expect a guarantee instead of going with the odds, you couldn't rule it out.


Some of them do have a danger scenario for you--skydiving or bungee-jumping, for instance. So don't do them unless you want to risk your life. Risk yours, but yours only.

How do you know that skydiving from 200,000 feet isn't safe? No one has ever done it. The only evidence you have that it isn't comes from extrapolating the safety of skydiving from lower altitudes. Sort of like the sprculation about danger at the lhc.
 RocketMan_Len
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 97
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/3/2010 1:38:07 PM
StarGazer...


I look forward to your admission that you were wrong when the end of the world fails to materialize.


Won't matter - the line will then become "Well, it may not have happened TODAY, but it could happen TOMORROW."

There's no way to win against the paranoid...
 whitegold765
Joined: 12/26/2007
Msg: 98
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/4/2010 9:04:08 AM
Fears on the LHC are as unstoppable as they are vague.

A lot of people seem to think the scientists are just making stuff up, like they don't know what's going to happen and are just crossing their fingers and hoping it's interesting.

I've heard it stated by scientists that the amount of energy involved in the collision is roughly the same as throwing one mosquito at another mosquito. For particles that's an insane amount of mass to have (due to their accelleration) but it's hardly some terrifying amount of energy.

The argument seems to be based on the notion that if something's never happened before it could potentially be bad - but that's simply not true. Not only does it not follow logically that it's bad, but this sort of collision and interaction occurs all the time in nature. It's just hard to see and study.

A final point on black holes. Black holes operate by having tremendous mass. That's what produces the gravity well. If a black hole has that little mass it should snuff out. If not, there's the often cited risk of it going into the centre of the planet and slowly hollowing it out.

Remember, though, that the thing still has little to no mass. It would accrete material and new mass very very slowly. Some of the figures I've seen calculated how long it would take to pose a threat to the planet, even if this did happen. It was about 10 times longer than the remaining lifetime of the sun.

I think we're fine.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 99
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/8/2010 2:22:57 PM
That's the difference, you see: A genuine suggested scenario of danger.

There would only be a difference if I agreed that the suggested scenario was genuine. I don't.

Black holes are known to consume things.

Correction - the definition of what black hole means comes from a theory, general relativity. The concept isn't meaningful independent of the theory. The only evidence for their existence is due to measurements that fit what the theory describes. That rules out even creating a black hole without resorting to creating a new theory (for which no evidence exists) specifically tailored to create black holes at the lhc. It makes for a good pr campaign to sell the lhc, based on wild optimism, but it doesn't mean squat as a scientific argument.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 100
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/11/2010 4:07:06 AM
They also report the naysayers - who I can't say I was particularly impressed with. Only one individual with any reasonable background in the type of physics we're talking about here - and his arguments were found to be "flawed". Maybe some people just want their few moments of "fame".


I'm, mot sure which person you refer to with respect to the ``flawed'' arguments, but I took a wild guess from what I read in that link and read reference 68: (Rossler, Otto). I can dispense with this one in short order and I think I can make clear just how flawed this article is. The text of the article may be found at:

http://www.wissensnavigator.com/documents/OTTOROESSLERMINIBLACKHOLE.pdf

On page 2, Rossler mentions the Schwarzshild soluntion, but since he doesn't write it down, I'll include it her for reference. It's the equivalent of the ``pythagorean theorem'' (i.e., the measure of distance) in curved spacetime. I'm leavcing out the angular part, since it isn't relevant and clutters everything up:

ds^2 = -(1-R/r)dt^2 + dr^2/(1-R/r) [To get enginering units, replace R/r by 2Gm/rc^2)

R == 2Gm/c^2 is the radius at the horizon. Apart from the minus sign and the coefficient (1-2m/r), this looks just like ds^2 = dx^2 + dy^2 in plane trigonometry. The thing to note here is what happens as the coordinate r takes the value R (the horizon). Then, (1-R/r) = 0 and the second term becomes infinite and hence is a singularity. That could be one of two things. Either the coordinates are not good coordinates or it really represents a singularity. A coordinate singularity occurs in regular spherical polar coordinates (theta, phi) at the north pole. The coordinate phi isn't defined there, since (0, phi) is the same point for any value of phi, the azimuthal angle). As it turns out, we have a coordinate singularity which we can eliminate by picking better coordinates.

However, Rossler doesn't seem to get this idea. Instead, he goes to commit a second error (eq 1). In his notation, he writes the radius R at the horizon as r_s and he integrates the function:

integral dr / (1 - r/r_s)

through the horizon. In other words, he gets the right indefinite integral and blindly plugs in the limits on either side of where the function goes to infinity, thereby not even integrating the function correctly. Someting similar can be done correctly (cf ``tortoise coordinate'' or ``Eddington-Finklestein'' coordinates at Wikipedia). Rossler then concludes (1) That it takes an infinite amount of time for a light ray to reach the horizon (which would sort of be correct if he wasn't sloppy and he interpreted it correctly; and (2) therefore the speed of light goes to zero.

That would be ok if he was talking about the result if he was claiming that this result was his. Then we could simply conclude he was wrong. Instead, he claims the result is what orthodox general relativity gets, but the interpretation is wrong. But, it gets worse before we finish the page.

In the last paragraph, he Rossler tosses out a lot of word salad regarding ``the constant c'' interpretation and the ``variable c interpetation.'' I admit, this took a minute to figure out what the hell he was talking about, since in orthodox general relativity, the speed of light is constant, contrary to what he claims. What he actually means by constant is globally constant and what he means by variable is locally constant. The prcise mathematical meaning here isn't relevant because a simple physical example will make this clearer than it is to Rossler.

You and a friend start at the North pole and walk in opposite directions toward the south pole at a constant velocity. When you arrive at the South pole, you are walking toward each other. This probably seems unsurprising, but it illustrates the fact that on a curved surface, it appears that you changed directions, which you can't do by walking at a constant velocity on a flat plane. If the Earth was flat, you would walk away from each other forever. However, neither of you changed velocity, so obviously you cannot define a velocity for either of you in a global way. Iy doesn't make sense to compare vectors at different points on a curved surface. Each person can, however, measure his own velocity and conclude that it's constant. If each of you tries to measure the other's velocity and compare it yours (which is constant), you'll conclude that the other person's velocity changed.

How does this apply to Rossler's argument? We don't need the Schwarzschild metric to see that he's wrong. The bending of starlight during a total eclipse or gravitational lensing will do. If two light rays that are parallel are bent around a massive object, the rays will be bent toward each other. If you assume that the speed of light is constant, then you have to conclude spacetime is curved. Otherwise, the velocity of the two light rays have to change to be bent toward each other. Hence, the only way to interpret a constant speed of light is in terms of a local velocity (what Rossler calls the variable speed interpretation he claims is wrong.) The only other option is that the speed of light is really not constant, however, since we have never made a measurement where the speed of light is not c, that wouldn't be correct. Since everything that follows is based on more than one erroneous statement, there's no point in looking at the next page. To paraphrase W. Pauli, Rossler is not right. He's not even wrong.

 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 101
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/13/2010 8:15:07 AM

The individual I was thinking of was Rainer Plaga who is an astrophysicist. He posted his criticismson the web at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0808/0808.1415v3.pdf but as far as I know, he couldn't get it published in a peer-reviewed journal.

I read through it, but not to the extent of checking that his conclusion follows from his assumptions. Given that he received input from other physicists like t' Hooft and Penrose, it's probably safe to assume that given his assumptions, his concusions are at least plausible. That leaves the question of how plausible his assumptions are, since it's always possible to assume anything consistent with existing data and necessary to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. So, if you assume that he hasn't created a model that obviously has implications that would contradict existing data, that leaves the merits of the model and his assumptions. The model can be found in:

http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0110255

Like some other catastrphe scenarios, the model relies on speculation about the energy regime that additional extra spatial dimensions might be relavent - which relies on the assumption that extradimensions exist - which relies on string theory (as it is understood), which is not really an argument for a disaster. I'd say it's more of an irony. The development of every new generation of accelerators has been justified by the new physics that could reasonably be expected to be found. Unfortunately, around the mid 1980s, the only physics anyone really expected to discover was that the standard model correctly predicted the existence of the t and the tau neutrino. (The neutrino oscillations discovered in the late nineties were something the standard model didn't really address beyond their irreleance to the basic model due to the known upper limits on the neutrino masses. Therefore, the standard model was silent on that issue)

The discovery of the t quark and tau neutrino surprised no one. I think it was exciting mainly because there was no experimental data or convincing theoretical model that predited the existence of any new physics since the standard model was assembled. In other words, fundamental physics has been pretty boring in terms of new discoveries, despite all of the effort to find something interesting. The attempt to sell the supercollider was based on hype about supersymmetry (for which there is also no evidence beyond whatever aesthetic appeal it has.) Note that the energy of the supercollider was supposed to be about 20 times greater than the lhc, yet no one voiced any concerns about anything at the time. It got cancelled because the price tag was a tad high.

Meanwhile, string theory was reborn (yet again) in the 1990s by finding a way to negate the reason it was abandoned the last time. All of a sudden there is speculation about black holes with extra dimensions which, as luck would have it, might be produced at energies that are just out of reach of current accelerators. The irony is that some extremely speculative justification for the lhc came back and bit the lhc on the a$$. I give the catastrphe arguments little credence because I give the arguments for creating black holes little credence. If you accept the arguments for black holes based on a model with cherry picked parameters, someone else is free to cherry pick different parameters.

The only physics that one might expect from any argument that is sound, is finding the Higgs. Everything else is a blind crap shoot, which is quote different from the way physics has historically progressed. I can't think of any discovery that has not been motivated by at least some plausibility argument that had a basis in existing physics.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 102
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/17/2010 1:38:45 PM
While on this subject, someone said that the gravitational force between masses separated by a proton-radius are just as low if the matter is in a black hole at that distance.

That is correct.

But, if a black hole is in contact with a proton, might not the center of mass of the black hole, with the black hole's arbitrarily small size, be considerably closer than that, to the nearer part of the proton?

The concept of two objects being in contact with each other is a classical concept from a picgture of objects as rigid spheres. The quantum mechanical picture of what ``contact'' means is very different, because two objects can only ``contact'' each other if they interact via a common force. If two particles do not interact via a common force, then the two particles literally cannot collide.

For example, what is the radius of a proton? The answer depends on whether you are referring to the radius as seen by a charged particle or a strongly interacting neutral particle like a neutron (which interacts via pion exchange) or a weakly interacting particle like a neutrino, which can only interact via the exchange of a W+, Z. What is usually quoted is the rms chrge radius.

The relevant concept here is called a cross section, which gives an intuitve picture in terms how ``big'' the particle is effectively, in terms of the area of a disk, usually in units of barns (10^-24 cm^2) and the strength of the coupling for the force. The ratios of the forces elative to the strong nuclear force are approx: strong force = 1; electromagnetic force = 10^-3; weak force = 10^-7; gravity = 10^-39. Hence, gravity is very weak. Gravity is a factor of 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 times weaker than the electromagnetic force (if I counted the zeroes right). So, one has to calculate the scatteing cross section to figure out the likelyhood of a ``collision.'' (This is why it's important to slow neutrons down to make an atomic bomb work. The cross section for nutron capture increases at lower energies. i.e., the neutron and nucleus are effectively ``bigger'' and the more likely to ``collide.'')

Since the gravitational field depends on the mass, the quantity of interest would be the effective ``matter radius.'' Calculations from a couple of papers put the capture cross section for a black hole moving slowly through matter in the same ballpark as the cross section of neutrinos that regularly pass through the earth without ever undergoing a collision (somewhere arond 10^-36 cm^2 or a trillionth of a barn). That means there is a lot of empty space and collisions are not going to happen very often.

A good enough possiblilitly to make physicists excited, enthusiastic and hopeful.

I'd say that is stretching it a bit. I'd call it wishful thinking. Particle physics has been extremely boring for the last quarter century. It really does suck to have a model like the standard model which no one believed would work so well that every attempt to find even the slightest indication that it was wrong, would fail for this long. In 25 years (actually a few years longer), there has not been a single experiment that indicates any evidence for new physics.



 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 103
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/17/2010 3:09:05 PM
Abelian, that was beautiful!
 LeCutter
Joined: 2/25/2009
Msg: 104
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/19/2010 10:41:41 PM

Why is that different? If you've never done it before, how do you know that it won't cause the end of the world?


Oh come on, Abelian, it's a question of scale and you know it.


Then I guess you should never do anything you haven't done before, since you can't possibly know what might happen.


Again, scale. Me jumping off a bridge doesn't potentially imperil the entire planet. We'd still be living in caves if no one risked anything, but it's about the scale of the risk. Science has too much of a history of groupthink for me to trust a handful of guys playing around with the building blocks of the universe saying, 'Relax, don't sweat it. What's the worst that go wrong?' when they don't fully know themselves. On this sort of scale moving forward very slowly and very cautiously is warranted. By your rationale you're saying lets hand out refined plutonium to anyone who wants it because we can't possibly know what might happen.
 Caexars
Joined: 10/25/2008
Msg: 105
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/22/2010 12:04:07 PM
I have to agree with this. I'm all for science and new discoveries, but our thirst for knowledge has outgrown the primitive, short-sighted, selfish, and destructive tendencies of our species.

In order for us to be foolhardy in regards to theoretical physics, we should first have the means to transport ourselves the hell out of this galaxy and the ability to terraform other planets just in case something bad happens. But in order for us to be technologically advanced in such a way, more (potentially lethal) experiments and data need to be collected and metabolized.

It's always about the catch 22 isn't it.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 106
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 5/24/2010 10:51:09 AM

Again, scale. Me jumping off a bridge doesn't potentially imperil the entire planet.

The only difference here is that the disaster scenarios for the lhc are crafted from more sophisticated arguments. Sophistication doesn't make them more valid.

We'd still be living in caves if no one risked anything, but it's about the scale of the risk.

Do you know anything about the physics involved? If not, what is your basis for your opinion, especially given that the consensus among physicists is that there is no credible argument for a disaster?

Science has too much of a history of groupthink for me to trust a handful of guys playing around with the building blocks of the universe saying, 'Relax, don't sweat it. What's the worst that go wrong?' when they don't fully know themselves.

Could you please point out a few key examples of the above?

By your rationale you're saying lets hand out refined plutonium to anyone who wants it because we can't possibly know what might happen.

On the contrary, I know all sorts of things that not only can happen, but have a good chance of happening. Not many of those things are positive and any of those positive things would be better served by not simply handing Pu over to some random group of people.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 107
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 6/24/2010 12:09:53 PM

I don't know modern physics, but I thought that gravitation was a common force between a black hole and a nucleon.

Sure, but before one can talk about how forces relate to interactions between particles in any sort of intuitive way, you first have to get away from thinking in terms of what appears self-evident from a classical perspective. (Actually, the classical picture of a collsion totally falls apart if you try to make it work rigoriusly, so what seems self-evident is actually on so at a superficial level.)

That being said, particle interactions can be broken down into three quantities. One is the coupling constant for the interaction. Another is what is called the matrix elements between the initial and final states that result from the interaction. The last is the phase space (which for this purpose we'll call the enerfy availavle to the final state). The strong interaction between nuclei has a strength of about 1 (but very short range) . The electromagnetic interaction between charges is about 10000 times smaller. The gravitational interaction is even smaller, about a factor of 10^-39. So right away, you can conclude that gravitational collisions don't contribute a lot to the interactions taking place at the atomic level. In other words, the chances of any collision taking place through the gravitational effects is very small, regardless of anything else you assume. It will take a while for a TeV mass black hole to get close enough to another particle to accrete it.

Second, the matrix elements are just expressions of conservation laws. Those aren't going to matter much here, except to the extent that you want to know the rate of Hawking radiation, since photons carry angular momentum and that has to be conserved when a photon is emitted. The phase space factor would be relevant in telling you whether absorption or scattering was more likely by virue of the incident momenta an engergies. Since we're assuming the particles are moving relatively slowly, it's not relevant either.

From a more complete treatment of hat I've outlined above, the papers I've referenced calculate the accretion rates.

Ok, let's bet the Earth on "a couple of papers" :-)

Everytime you ingest a pill, you're betting your life on research that depends on statistics at levels that are a million times more lax than the average statsitical analysis done for any result in physics to be considered credible. If you don't believe global warming is happening, you're betting the Earth on a coin toss at best. But, before even appealing to that argument, I'd first have to believe that at least one doomsday scenario for black hole production was based on anything more than creating a scenario to fit a predetermined result.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 108
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 6/24/2010 10:18:09 PM

I think that the gist of what folks are saying is based, not on precise knowledge of science, and the science of probability, but the "grey area" that exists among scientists, politicians, and the private sector. The LHC is much more reliant on scientific probability, as are other "hard" experiments done in the past -- with nuclear energy, cloning, quantum physics.

Some people think the Earth is flat. It's founder was a member of the Royal Atronomical Society and the Royal Geographic Society. Does that give his arguments any credence:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth_Society

Look at what's happened with the "science" behind deep sea oil rigs.

What science? The problem with the deep sea oil rigs had nothing to do with science or even engineering. It had to do with ignoring engineering design principles because the accounting department didn't want to pay for it to be done right.

People seem to confuse science with technology.
 hyoid
Joined: 5/12/2009
Msg: 109
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 6/25/2010 6:52:37 AM

In the case of the LHC, yes, there is politics involved -- that's what led to the project being moved away from Waco, TX. That's about the extent of it.


Waxahachie

The SSC was a classic example of a pork barrel project.
When approved by the federal govt, the president, speaker of the house and president of the senate were all from Texas. Where was it sited? Here's a hint-Not at the location with a reusable existing infrastructure and workforce experienced with building this type of machine. I had several colleagues relocate to work on the SSC. I seriously considered going but the political uncertainties scared me off.

So several billion dollars were spent digging a large hole in Texas. When the political leadership changed , Congress found the malfeasance of buying potted plants for the newly constucted administration building, called the project corrupted beyond repair and allocated another billion dollars to shut it down.

The funny thing is if it had been sited where it should have been, I'm certain we'd be celebrating 10 years of physics results this year.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 110
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 6/25/2010 8:16:37 AM
The SSC was a classic example of a pork barrel project.

That's true.

When approved by the federal govt, the president, speaker of the house and president of the senate were all from Texas. Where was it sited? Here's a hint-Not at the location with a reusable existing infrastructure and workforce experienced with building this type of machine.

Actually, I think that argument overstates the case for building the SSC in Batavia. The site selected in Texas turned out to be a poor choice and I'm sure politics had a lot to do with it, but the infrastructure and workforce experience is a weak argument for selecting Batavia over Waxahachie. For one thing, land is a lot more expensive in Batavia. I'm not really sure what about the infrastructure at fermilab would really be reusable (except perhaps the accelerator itself as an injector).

The workforce was experienced in building what was suitable for the way fermilab was constructed. For example, at that time, 5T superconducting magnets were not mass manufactured. The Fermilab magnets were constructed individually which doesn't scale up to the requirements for the ssc. especially when it comes to having to replace one. This is evident from the design proposals submitted by several competitors for the contract, including Fermilab. The design proposed by the Houston Area Research Consortium (HARC) was competitive with the design proposed by Fermilab and although Fermilab was eventually awarded the design, I don't think there was any clear consensus on which was actually better. If experience was really a major factor, then the Fermilab design should have been clearly superior to competitive designs from groups with much less experience.

What I do know is that the Fermilab design fell short of the claims, which made the decision on the design, questionable and possibly politically motivated. Part of the reason that the ssc was able to get funding at all was that the people from Texas made sure just about every politicians from every state who voted for it got some polical advantage from funding that flowed into their state for being involved in some aspect of building the ssc. Also, I knew one of the people who was heavily involved in designing the beamline. He came from Los Alamos and his expertise in accelerator design is beyond question, so it's not really clear that he wouldn't have been recruited to do the work regardless of where it was built. Personally, I think a better choice for the site would have been in the desert, possibly in New Mexico.

I had several colleagues relocate to work on the SSC. I seriously considered going but the political uncertainties scared me off.

I was in graduate school at the time and the ssc would have been a natural place for me to consider working. However, I was unconvinced by more than just the political uncertainty. The expectations for the physics itself were a bit optimistic.

So several billion dollars were spent digging a large hole in Texas. When the political leadership changed , Congress found the malfeasance of buying potted plants for the newly constucted administration building, called the project corrupted beyond repair and allocated another billion dollars to shut it down.

The funny thing is if it had been sited where it should have been, I'm certain we'd be celebrating 10 years of physics results this year.

I think the malfeasance would have shut it down regardless of where it was built. I'm not even really convinced that the ssc was ever really expected to be finished, by the people who voted to fund it.
 tiguar
Joined: 9/15/2011
Msg: 111
New legal challenge for the Hadron Collider...
Posted: 7/4/2012 6:06:38 PM
July 4th, 2012, lots has happend.
What will come of the knowledge which is gained?
Little concerned about this bit..
[/"CERN has an immunity from court action" ]
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