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Retired nuclear safety officer and Spanish journalist duo file case against firms behind LHC

Months before the $6-billion, 30-year project was scheduled to turn on, the duo filed a lawsuit against the firms behind the "monster" machine.

Business Insider|
Last Updated: Apr 07, 2015, 11.12 AM IST
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Months before the $6-billion, 30-year project was scheduled to turn on, the duo filed a lawsuit against the firms behind the "monster" machine.  
Months before the $6-billion, 30-year project was scheduled to turn on, the duo filed a lawsuit against the firms behind the "monster" machine.  
The world's largest, most powerful particle accelerator -the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) -is scheduled to switch on in the next few days, according to a report in Nature. However, two men are not amused: retired nuclear safety officer, Walter Wagner and Spanish journalist, Luis Sancho. Months before the $6-billion, 30-year project was scheduled to turn on for the first time in 2008, the duo filed a lawsuit against the firms behind the "monster" machine. They claimed that they were trying to save the world from, what they thought, was almost-certain annihilation. The lawsuit was dismissed since the men failed to prove a "credible threat to harm".

Here are three concerns that the duo proposed in their lawsuit:-

Death by black hole

While black holes are generally huge, , it's possible that a small amount of matter, on the order of 10s of micrograms, could be packed densely to make a micro black hole. Before the LHC was turned on, the duo feared that by accelerating subatomic particles to 99.99% the speed of light and then smashing them together, it would create a particle mash-up so dense, as to spawn a micro black hole. However, CERN physicists discounted the possibility.

Death by strange matter

Strange matter is made up of individual, hypothetical particles, called strangelet. Wagner and Sancho worried that this could fuse with normal matter, eventually converting Earth into a single strangelet. However, the precise behavior of a single strangelet is unclear.To support this, physicists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, have been trying to create a strangelet particle with Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. So far, nothing.

Death by magnetic monopoles

In nature, magnets come with two ends ­ a north pole and a south pole. But in the late 19th century, physicist Pierre Curie predicted there's no reason why a particle with just one magnetic pole could not exist. A century later, this particle called a magnetic monopole, has not been made in the lab or observed in nature. But that didn't stop Wagner from suggesting a powerful machine like LHC could create a magnetic monopole that could destroy Earth.
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