Sorry, say boffins, the LHC still hasn't sucked us into a black hole

Apocalyptics sigh and hope something shows up

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Simulated computer display of a particle collision in the large hadron collider (LHC) - image by CERN/Science photo library

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has still failed to produce microscopic black holes, according to a new analysis of data from the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration.

The idea, beloved of theoretical physicists, lawyers, and cranks others, is that collisions even down to the Tera-electron-volt (TeV) scale could produce microscopic black holes.

If they did pop up, it would be more than a curiosity: it would provide empirical support hitherto lacking for the notion that there are extra dimensions we haven't seen before. This, in turn, would give scientists a new angle for investigating the nature of gravity.

In this paper at arXiv, the University of Alabama's Shaqoi Hou and Benjamin Harms and the University of Mississippi's Marco Cavaglia reckon they've ruled out micro black holes with 95 per cent certainty.

What the paper does offer is a lower boundary for micro black hole formation. If the black hole decays into Standard Model particles, Hou's group reckons they can't form at mass less than 5.2 -6.5 TeV; if the decay leaves a remnant black hole after decay, the mass can't be lower than 2.2-3.4 TeV.

To get those values, the group first ran computer models of how black holes should form in LHC collisions, if they form at all; and compared the simulation data with experimental data from the CMS collaboration.

Black holes aren't ruled out yet, though: “The predicted lower limits constrain the ADD [additional dimensions – editor] model but do not exclude it”, the researchers write. ®

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