Particle collider no threat, safety panel says
A giant particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland, that is set to begin operations next week poses no threat to mankind, according to the latest report from the group in charge of safety at the facility.
The Large Hadron Collider, which is run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, lies in a 27-kilometre-long underground circuit beneath the French-Swiss border and is set to begin low-energy operations on Sept. 10.
It has attracted worldwide attention, in part because it has been a costly project, with a total budget of $9 billion. But it has also raised fears among the general populace about the potential dangers of such a large experiment.
Those fears are unfounded, wrote the safety assessment group for the LHC in a study published Friday. The safety group said its latest review should dispel fears of universe-gobbling black holes or anti-matter destroying the Earth.
If particle collisions like the ones created at the LHC had the power to destroy the Earth, such interactions would have wiped out the planet long ago, the group wrote Friday in the Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics.
"Nature has already conducted the equivalent of about a hundred thousand LHC experimental programs on Earth – and the planet still exists," they wrote.
It's the second such study by the safety assessment group. The first study, published in 2003, came to similar conclusions.
The collider will use a ring of super-cooled magnets to push two proton beams to speeds and energies never before reached under controlled conditions, crashing the protons into one another to create and detect a host of new particles.
It is expected to be the most powerful tool yet for physicists hoping to uncover the secrets behind the laws of the universe, both on the tiny scale of quantum mechanics and the huge domain of galaxies and black holes.
Physicists from universities across Canada will be involved in the LHC's operations through the ATLAS experiment, one of two main experiments studying the results of proton-on-proton collisions.