The scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, are mainly concerned with smashing tiny particles together at high speeds to determine their properties and discover new, smaller particles. Online conspiracy theorists, though, have other concerns.
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), an enormous underground loop in which large magnets accelerate particles to high speeds, is about to start another round of experiments, thereby reviving doomsday theories that have been around since the LHC’s inception. There have been several failed attempts to shut CERN down via lawsuits, hundreds of YouTube videos with millions of collective views, and a seemingly infinite number of tweets, all worried that the scientists at CERN are (knowingly or otherwise) on the brink of committing heinous crimes against nature and humanity.
Black Holes and CERN
One of the most popular beliefs among conspiracy theorists is that all of that atom-smashing may create a black hole which could swallow up the Earth. This fear was articulated in a 2008 lawsuit that attempted to stop the LHC before it started: “The compression of the two atoms colliding together at nearly light speed will cause an irreversible implosion, forming a miniature version of a giant black hole. […] Any matter coming into contact with it would fall into it and never be able to escape. Eventually, all of earth would fall into such growing micro-black-hole, converting earth into a medium-sized black hole, around which would continue to orbit the moon, satellites, the ISS, etc.”
It would not be possible to create a dangerous black hole using the LHC: quite simply, astronomical black holes are extremely massive. There is not enough mass or energy involved in any LHC experiment to create one. Interactions at similar energies happen all the time in the Earth’s atmosphere: if they could create dangerous black holes, we wouldn’t
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