Tinfoil Tuesday Here on the Reg Large Hadron Collider (LHC) desk, where we follow the rollercoaster triumphs and disasters which occur at the world's mightiest particle-thrasher, there are occasional quiet spells. Right now, for instance, the titanic machine is shut down for a couple of days' technical tweaks.
On such days we cast about us for an entertaining LHC doom prophet - for instance the splendid though rather creepy Walter L Wagner of Hawaiian lawsuit fame, or the man known simply as "Doctor Dark Energy" and his somewhat foam-lipped plans to eliminate CERN chief Rolf Heuer "and all his bigbangers" using a nuclear weapon supplied by Osama bin Laden.
Today, however, we have a new contender. Step forward Professor Otto Rössler. The prof is perhaps the LHC doom-prophet best qualified in actual physics: though his life professorship at the University of Tübingen was awarded for achievements in chemistry, and he originally qualified as a medical doctor, the 77-year-old academic has taught theoretical physics and published papers on chaos theory. This certainly trumps Wagner's physics minor and Doctor Dark Energy's qualifications as a schoolteacher and "agricultural mechanisation specialist".
Professor Rössler wouldn't make our list just for this, however: what's really brought him up on our radar is an excellent interview he gave to Swiss anti-LHC tinfoiler blog (sorry, "non profit news agency") notepad.ch. In it, the prof reveals some new and splendid notions on how the great Collider will doom us all.
The basis of Rössler's concerns are an old friend, the idea that the LHC may create tiny black holes which could then fall into the centre of the planet, and - in his words - "eat the Earth from the inside out in a few years time". According to the prof, the entire world would then be packed down into a marble-sized sphere "a little bit smaller than 1.9 centimeters".
But that's rather old hat, and far more eminent physicists than Rössler have said that this can't happen - if it could, highly energetic cosmic-ray collisions in the upper atmosphere should have caused it to already.
Rössler counters by arguing that cosmic-ray micro black holes, created by lightspeed rays hitting stationary Earthly particles, naturally pop into existence moving extremely fast and zoom off into interstellar space - if necessary zipping straight through any planets or stars they encounter - before trouble can arise. But he says that LHC micro-holes, created by two proton beams of equal energy colliding with each other head on, could be moving so slowly when generated that they would be unable to escape the Earth's pull despite their extreme titchiness.
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