Monday, June 30, 2008

It Will Answer Questions...If We Survive

A new atomic supercollider's construction is nearing completion in Europe and will be turned on in August. Scientists are hopeful that the collider, billed as the largest scientific experiment in history, will solve long-unanswered questions about subatomic physics.

Scientists also hope that the experiment will not destroy the world.

An AP report says this:

The safety of the collider, which will generate energies seven times higher than its most powerful rival, at Fermilab near Chicago, has been debated for years. The physicist Martin Rees has estimated the chance of an accelerator producing a global catastrophe at one in 50 million — long odds, to be sure, but about the same as winning some lotteries.

By contrast, a CERN team this month issued a report concluding that there is "no conceivable danger" of a cataclysmic event. The report essentially confirmed the findings of a 2003 CERN safety report, and a panel of five prominent scientists not affiliated with CERN, including one Nobel laureate, endorsed its conclusions.

Critics of the LHC filed a lawsuit in a Hawaiian court in March seeking to block its startup, alleging that there was "a significant risk that ... operation of the Collider may have unintended consequences which could ultimately result in the destruction of our planet."

Read the rest here