Time to break your Y2K survival kit out of the attic and blow off its cobwebs.
CERN's 17-mile long Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, along the French and Swiss border, will fire up on Wednesday for the first time at full blast. With any luck, it will tell scientists the secrets to Life, the Universe and Everything.
But a very, very nervous group says the LHC's inaugural firing could create a mini black hole or dangerous "strangelets" that will cause an End Times cataclysm. This is, of course, tragic news to those who believe the Mayan Calendar was supposed to take us all out on 12/12/2012, since we now won't be around to see if that prediction comes true.
An article in the Indianapolis Daily Fishwrap reports:
Some have raised the specter of the LHC creating subatomic black holes and other phenomena that will devour us all, despite nature having already conducted its own more-powerful collisions with cosmic rays. The objectors to the LHC say that the big difference between the cosmic ray collisions and those in the collider is that the LHC collisions are head-on, causing the black holes to stand still and not fly off into the nothingness.
The problem with that complaint, though, is that the beams of protons aren't hitting each other directly; they're crossing in an X pattern, like your old Hot Wheels race track where the cars are meant to collide in the middle. With an angled impact, any resulting weird stuff will fly off in odd directions and into space. There's also the theory of black hole evaporation (aka "Hawking radiation") that says all black holes are inevitably doomed to fizzle away into nothingness, with lifespan directly related to size. According to the generally accepted theory, these subatomic black holes will poof away in .000000000000000000000000001 seconds.
Meanwhile, the BBC has an extensive article about eschatology—your big word for the day.
Enjoy it while there's yet time.
It all ends Wednesday.
THIS JUST IN:
Have a look at Professor Brian Cox of Manchester University explanation of just what the LHC is, what it does, and why the people sending him death threats are a bunch of wankers. BTW, in addition to obsessing over particle physics, Professor Cox was a British pop star in the 1990s.