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Subj: Critics Fear Collider Could Doom Earth (S598)
By DOUGLAS BIRCH,AP
Posted: 2008-06-29 23:04:48
Filed Under: Science News
Photo from Martial Trezzini, Keystone/AP...
Source: http://news.aol.com/story/_a/critics-fear-collider-
........could-doom-earth/20080628165609990001

MEYRIN, Switzerland (June 29) - The most powerful atom-smasher ever built could make some bizarre discoveries, such as invisible matter or extra dimensions in space, after it is switched on in August.

But some critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures: Will it spawn a black hole that could swallow Earth? Or spit out particles that could turn the planet into a hot dead clump?

The Pros and Cons

Martial Trezzini, Keystone/AP
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Scientists have been working for a generation to build the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle collider, called the largest science experiment in history. It consists of a ring of supercooled magnets 17 miles in circumference, buried 330 feet below the French-Swiss border.

Johns Hopkins University / ESA / NASA

cientists hope to find signs of the invisible "dark matter" that makes up more than 96 percent of the universe. A ghostly ring of dark matter is shown above in a faraway galaxy. The collider could also find evidence of extra dimensions.

........................Johannes Simon, Getty Images
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Part of the collider sits under the CERN research center, above. When the machine is at full power, two beams of protons will race around the huge ring 11,000 times a second in opposite directions. They will travel in two tubes about the width of fire hoses, speeding through a vacuum that is colder and emptier than outer space.

   M. Weiss / CXC / NASA
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Critics fear that the experiments on the powerful machine could create black holes, like one shown above, that could swallow the earth. Scientists working on the project laughed off such remarks. "Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans.

Lawrence Jackson, AP
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Physicist Stephen Hawking, seen in April, predicts that even if the collider created micro black holes, they would instantly evaporate.

  Jessica Gow, Pressens Bild / AP
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Physicist Martin Rees, left, receiving an award in 2005, estimates the chance of the particle smasher creating a global catastrophe at one in 50 million, about the same odds as winning some lotteries. Source: AP

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