Saturday, May 03, 2008

Atom smasher and micro black holes

Thousands of particles explode from the collision point of two relativistic (100 GeV per ion) gold ions in the STAR detector of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider; an experiment done in order to investigate the properties of a quark gluon plasma such as the one thought to exist in the ultrahot first few microseconds after the big bangImage via WikipediaHere is something to get you thinking, if have any interest in particle physics go to Geeks are Sexy and read about the LHC (Large Hadron Collider (i.e. atom smasher)) which has been built by CERN in Europe. Some scientists are voicing concerns that the LHC could create micro black holes and stranglets. Well I have heard of black holes but not micro black holes so I went to Wikipedia to find out what a micro black hole is. Well micro black holes are as you would expect very small black holes so small that they may not be big enough to affect even one atom. In addition micro black holes may just evaporate or fly off into space at the speed of light. But the LHC is not the only possible source of micro black holes though, cosmic rays are also considered to have sufficient energy to produce micro black holes and I would assume stranglets also. So then I went back to Wikipedia to find out what a stranglet might be and if I understand correctly a stranglet would be a group of strange quark(particles that protons and neutrons are made from)s vs. up and down quarks and if there are enough strange quarks you end up with a quark star. So having a star created in the middle of the LHC sounds like an undesirable result also.

So let's hope that neither the LHC or cosmic rays are able to produce a stable black hole or quark star. But if they do will any of us know it since everything would be sucked into the black hole or annihilated by a quark star or will time move so slowly that we will see it happen in slow motion.

fyi. On a sad note I just read this post that John Wheeler the scientist who coined the term "Black Hole" just passed away at age 96.


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