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CERN declares Large Hadron Collider perfectly safe

Strangelets and black holes? Pah

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Here's some good news for those of you who like the universe just the way it is: CERN has declared its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) perfectly safe.

The LHC Safety Assessment Group (LSAG) has issued a report (summary here), which addresses the key concerns surrounding the doomsday particle accelerator, due to fire up later this summer.

The findings back a similar 2003 probe into the possibility of the LHC provoking an apocalyptic event and concludes the device's collisions "present no danger and that there are no reasons for concern".

Specifically, the report addresses the key theoretical menaces posed by the LHC, including the formation of microscopic black holes, vacuum bubbles and strangelets.

Of black holes, the LSAG declares: "According to the well-established properties of gravity, described by Einstein’s relativity, it is impossible for microscopic black holes to be produced at the LHC. There are, however, some speculative theories that predict the production of such particles at the LHC. All these theories predict that these particles would disintegrate immediately. Black holes, therefore, would have no time to start accreting matter and to cause macroscopic effects."

Moving swiftly on to vaccum bubbles - described as the universe in "a more stable state...in which we could not exist" - the report gives the theory short shrift: "Since such vacuum bubbles have not been produced anywhere in the visible Universe, they will not be made by the LHC."

Regarding your strangelet - a "hypothetical microscopic lump of ‘strange matter’ containing almost equal numbers of particles called up, down and strange quarks" which might "coalesce with ordinary matter and change it to strange matter" - the LSAG notes that the US's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider hasn't to date produced any and "experience there has already validated the arguments that strangelets cannot be produced".

All of this will come as a great relief to Walter L Wagner, who with fellow Hawaiian Luis Sancho, earlier this year filed suit in an attempt to delay fire-up of the LHC.

His campaigning website warns: "The LHC propaganda machine [saying] that 'everything is safe' is well funded by your tax dollars, paying large salaries to thousands of people who have much to lose financially should the LHC be unable to prove its safety. As most of them perceive the risk to be small, they are willing to take that 'small risk' at our expense. The actual risk cannot presently be calculated."

Back at the LHC, meanwhile, five of the 27-kilometre machine's eight sectors are currently "close to their operating temperature of 1.9 degrees above absolute zero" and the other three are "approaching that temperature". Once everything's nicely chilled, "electrical testing will be concluded in readiness for first beams, currently scheduled for August".

Which leaves just enough time to ingest the full-fat LSAG report (pdf) before planet Earth is swallowed by proton-eating magnetic monopoles. ®

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