A Statement By Professor Brian Cox

Professor Brian Cox. Awesome. (Dave Pearson - http://tinyurl.com/62g84q)
Professor Brian Cox. Awesome. (Dave Pearson – http://tinyurl.com/62g84q)

On writing the article “Anyone Who Thinks the LHC Will Destroy the World is a Tw*t.” on Astroengine.com, I had no idea it would hit the front page of Digg.com and generate thousands of hits (booting Astroengine offline for 20 minutes). I wrote the supportive post as I believe Brian’s quote (from the Telegraph website), summed up the strain particle physicists are beginning to feel.

The original quote could be misconstrued as being offensive, but I believe the vast majority understood what he was saying. Brian was responding to reports that LHC scientists had received death threats in the run-up to the September 10th start date of the particle accelerator. With a combination of disinformation being spread by certain ill-informed individuals, media hype and mass hysteria, a solid statement was needed by a leading physicist to tame the unnecessary fear being whipped up.

I’ve been banging on about how safe the LHC is for some time, and I even vowed not to post another LHC doomsday debunking article as, quite frankly, I’m sick to death with the idiotic claims that micro-black holes, stranglets or gremlins could be produced by the LHC. The fact is that there is no danger and Brian explains why…
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“Anyone Who Thinks the LHC Will Destroy the World is a Twat.”

Brian Cox giving an inspiring talk (TED)
Brian Cox giving an inspiring talk (TED)

I’m a huge fan of Brian Cox. He’s often referred to as the “rockstar of physics,” which is a big complement considering the stereotypical physicist in everyone’s mind. From the get-go you know that Professor Cox is a guy you want in your laboratory, and you can see why from this excellent TED lecture he gave in Monterey, CA, this year. He is a tireless advocate of communicating science to the world and his outreach style is second-to-none. But like many modern scientists who are working on cutting-edge research, they are often at the mercy of public misconception, media hype and personal attacks. So when I hear news that some Large Hadron Collider (LHC) physicists are receiving death threats, I lose my faith in humanity…
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The LHC Could Spell Doomsday in 9 days! (Oh Please, Not Again!)

Big science at the LHC (Credit: <a href='http://qrczaq.blogspot.com/'>Qrczaq</a>)
Big science at the LHC (Credit: QrczaQ)

…actually, it’s 50 days until the first particle collisions, but who’s counting?

Right, this is officially the last Astroengine.com article I will write about the fear surrounding the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. All future articles will be consumed by the stunning science being carried out at this historic facility near Geneva in Switzerland. I realised months ago that scientists are on a losing battle when it comes to using scientific reasoning to quell the misinformation being communicated about what the LHC can do. Firstly, micro black holes will most likely not be produced (and besides, if they are, they will only live for an infinitesimally short period of time). Secondly, stranglets and magnetic monopoles have a vanishingly small chance of even existing in theoretical physics (they are speculative at best), let alone the nigh-on impossible event any man-made experiment could ever generate them. They are hypothetical particles.

To put the probability of the LHC creating a doomsday scenario into perspective, there is a better probability that a) all the air in my office will spontaneously drift to the other side of the room, leaving me to suffocate; b) I will spontaneously disappear as every single subatomic particle in my body decides to return their energy to the vacuum, or c) our four-dimensional space (three spatial and one temporal) will instantaneously become more “space-like,” freezing us in a strange new Universe where nothing happens (sorry, I’m getting a little carried away now). The point I am trying to make is that there is a higher risk of something “strange” happening to us in the “real world” than there is of something “strange” happening to the entire planet after being triggered by the LHC…

Still, the LHC lawsuit grumbles on and the media is still reporting silly science needlessly worrying people, distracting them from what the LHC is really going to do: revolutionize science.
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2012 Doomsday Fabrication: Abusing Science and Making Money

Ancient prophecy plus a dash of scientific disinformation equals fear (and the potential to make a lot of money)
Ancient prophecy plus a dash of scientific disinformation equals fear (and the potential to make a lot of money)

The Mayan long-count calendar ends on December 21st 2012. For many reasons, this is a very important event, religiously and spiritually. However, there are a huge number of doomsday scenarios that are being pinned on this day too. Why? Well your guess is as good as mine. This is a very strange phenomenon. We’ve heard “end of the world” theories for millennia; from Nostrodamus, the Bible to the Y2K Bug, but as yet (as far as I can tell) the Earth has not been destroyed. Many historic prophecies have been made deliberately vague to make a future event more likely to match the future prediction by the prophet. That’s fine, I have no problem with a mystical historic figure telling us the world is going to fry at an undetermined date by an undetermined harbinger of doom. But I have a huge problem with modern-day authors publishing scientific inaccuracies for personal gain.

I am writing this article after a number of emails were sent to me concerned about yet another 2012 Doomsday scenario, so I decided to investigate. This is what I found…
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Channel 4 Report About LHC Safety (ft. Walter Wagner!)

Working on the LHC (CERN)
Working on the LHC (CERN)

The LHC is set to go online in around two months time and the scientific world waits in anticipation for the first results. However, there are a few who are more concerned than excited for the LHC experiments. On Tuesday night, I was kindly asked to join the LHC debate with the prominent LHC critic, Walter Wagner on Captain Jack’s show Paranormal Radio. To be honest, I really enjoyed the open platform provided for me to ask Walter some questions about his forthcoming lawsuit against the US partners funding CERN. Mr Wagner is far from being a fantasist or “crank” (as I’ve seen unkindly written in some of the media), but his views are more in the realms of speculation, rather than being based on the actual physics predicted to come out of the LHC.

Today, science reporter David Fuller with the UK news channel ITN contacted me to say that he had covered Walter’s story in a news item for Channel 4. He put together a very balanced report that should allay any fears that micro black holes or strangelets could be produced by this awesome experiment in the search for the Higgs boson…
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LHC Worries are Based on Fear of the Unknown, not Science

The construction of the LHC is nearing completion, exciting or worrying? (AP)
The construction of the LHC is nearing completion, exciting or worrying? (AP)

I’ve heard some crazy talk in my time, but the fear surrounding the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has really surprised me. On writing a story last month that a guy in Hawaii (with a scant background in physics) was trying to pass a lawsuit to put a stop to the construction of the LHC, I realised the pressures physicists at the cutting edge of science are under. Physicists the world over have defended the science behind the LHC, and although some of the products from high energy particle collisions are as yet unknown, there is an infinitesimal chance that a black hole will swallow Earth… (I actually want a black hole to be created, the scientific implications will be revolutionary.)
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