Q: Will CERN create a black hole?

Physicist: Unfortunately, ultra small black holes straddle the line between quantum mechanics and general relativity, which makes it difficult to make useful predictions.  The answer is: a solid maybe.  If your conCERN is that the black hole thus created will destroy the world, you can relax.

First, the hole will be so small that you couldn’t force-feed it an electron.

Second, the TeV (the energy an electron has after being pushed through 1,000,000,000,000 volts) collisions that CERN is aiming for happen in nature.  Statistically, they should happen in the upper atmosphere somewhere in the world a couple times a day.  The record is held by the OhMyGod particle detected in 1991, which had an energy of around 300 million TeV.  So if we can form tiny black holes, then nature’s already beaten us to the punch.  The evidence of these ridiculously high energy collisions come in the form of a “shotgun” wave of intense radiation, that only affect small areas on the ground a couple hundred yards across.  You’ve been hit by several of these events in your lifetime, and been none the wiser.

Do to the effects of Hawking radiation (which makes small black holes fizzle out and disappear), the scientists at CERN are working on methods to detect the secondary effects of a fresh black hole evaporating, instead of detecting the hole itself.  They don’t expect it to last long enough to get from the collision point all the way to the detectors, which are only inches away.

CERN: The last thing James Bond will ever see.

CERN: The last thing James Bond will ever see.

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10 Responses to Q: Will CERN create a black hole?

  1. Pingback: physicist and mathematician

  2. Pingback: Q: Will black holes ever release their energy and will we be able to tell what had gone into them? « Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist

  3. Claus Rolff says:

    What do we now know about dark matter and what is the relationship between dark holes and dark matter?

  4. The Physicist The Physicist says:

    What’s a dark hole?

  5. G says:

    In the very near future, CERN will find the speed of light to be only a single step in the speed race. Unfortunately university’s, colleges and many PHD’s have been forced to search for answers in a very narrow scope of vision. Einstein was one of the worlds finest physicists, but he also had a limited scope. Time as we know it is not constricted to current findings. Time, in my humble opinion, will be found deeply miss understood. With everything in life often the elephant sitting in the middle of the room is missed for an arm chair or sofa. But the most incredible thing is that we will one day see that our future selves have returned to our time on many occasions. Not for anything but a brief moment. Further investigations into our past will reveal our future.

  6. wraparound says:

    Just in case, can we NOT fire the thing up on December 21, 2012…lol
    Seriously, I wouldn’t want you to hit a single carbon atom with 4 protins from 4 different precise right angles and at exactly the same time … implosion …bad.

  7. Pingback: Q: Would it be possible in the distant future to directly convert matter into energy? | Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist

  8. Kevin says:

    If you can grasp the idea that something as small as a black hole started out as a sun, the idea that a black hole created by smashing a few sub-atomic particles together would cause a world-ending event seems a little silly.
    But then I guess you should never start with the assumption that quantum mechanics will make sense…

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