Essay - Large Hadron Collider - Risk of a Black Hole - Dennis Overbye - Physics - NYTimes

Essay - Large Hadron Collider - Risk of a Black Hole - Dennis Overbye - Physics - NYTimes

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Search All NYTimes.com Science WORLD U.S. N.Y. / REGION BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY SCIENCE HEALTH SPORTS OPINION ARTS STYLE TRAVEL JOBS REAL ESTATE AUTOS ENVIRONMENT SPACE & COSMOS Harry Campbell Related Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More (March 29, 2008) A Giant Takes On Physics’ Biggest Questions (May 15, 2007) Physicists Strive to Build A Black Hole (Sept 11, 2001) RSS Feed Get Science News From The New York Times » ESSAY Gauging a Collider’s Odds of Creating a Black Hole By DENNIS OVERBYE Published: April 15, 2008 In Walker Percy ’s “Love in the Ruins,” the protagonist, a doctor and an inventor, recites what he calls the scientist’s prayer. It goes like this: “Lord, grant that my work increase knowledge and help other men. “Failing that, Lord, grant that it will not lead to man’s destruction. “Failing that, Lord, grant that my article in Brain be published before the destruction takes place.” Today we require more than prayers that a scientific experiment will not lead to the end of the world. We demand hard-headed calculations. But whom can we trust to do them? That question has been raised by the impending startup of the Large Hadron Collider . It starts smashing protons together this summer at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or Cern, outside Geneva, in hopes of grabbing a piece of the primordial fire, forces and particles that may have existed a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Critics have contended that the machine could produce a black hole that could eat the Earth or something equally catastrophic. To most physicists, this fear is more science fiction than science fact. At a recent open house weekend, 73,000 visitors, without pitchforks or torches, toured the collider without incident. Nevertheless, some experts say too much hype and not enough candor on the part of scientists about the promises and perils of what they do could boomerang into a public relations disaster for science, opening the door for charlatans and demagogues. In a paper published in 2000 with the title “ Might a Laboratory Experiment Destroy Planet Earth? ” Francesco Calogero, a nuclear physicist at the University of Rome and co-winner of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Pugwash conferences on arms control, deplored a tendency among his colleagues to promulgate a “leave it to the experts” attitude. “Many, indeed most, of them,” he wrote, “seem to me to be more concerned with the public relations impact of what they, or others, say and write, than in making sure that Go to Complete List » More Articles in Science » Today's Headlines Daily E-Mail MOST POPULAR Pursuing iPhone Thief, Officer Knew Right Buttons to Push 1.
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This note was uploaded on 01/28/2012 for the course AERO 2.0 taught by Professor Alexandratechet during the Spring '09 term at MIT.

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Essay - Large Hadron Collider - Risk of a Black Hole - Dennis Overbye - Physics - NYTimes

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