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3Physicists Strive to Build A Black Hole - NYTimes

3Physicists Strive to Build A Black Hole - NYTimes -...

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Search All NYTimes.com Advertise on NYTimes.com Physicists Strive to Build A Black Hole Published: September 11, 2001 (Page 3 of 3) What if the theory is wrong and the black holes don't immediately disappear? Is there a danger of sucking the accelerator, the laboratory, the city of Geneva, the Swiss Alps and ultimately the whole planet into the hole? Could something like that ever qualify for an environmental impact statement? Hoping to avoid the kind of doomsday fears aroused two years ago by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., physicists have done some reassuring calculations. ''There is a constant flux of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays striking the atmosphere,'' Dr. Giddings said. ''The same calculations that we do for the L.H.C. also predict that around 100 such black holes a year are 'organically' and apparently safely produced in the earth's atmosphere in cosmic ray collisions. So if this were dangerous, we shouldn't be here to begin with.'' If black holes can be manufactured and studied in captivity, physicists will be able to test ideas in the hinterlands of understanding. The black holes are so tiny that they would obey the laws of quantum mechanics, but their gravity is so powerful that they must also obey general relativity. By observing how the two theories interact, physicists could see if they were just different manifestations of a more general law. They might even gain some insight into a conundrum known as the information paradox. A fundamental truth of quantum mechanics is that information can never disappear from the universe. But what happens when you drop an encylopedia down a black hole? When the black hole eventually disintegrates, the information would be gone.
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