At some time in the not to distant future, a collection of men with egg shaped heads will decide it’s time to power up the Large Hadron Collider. It’s a big and scary bit of science which plans to recreate the first few nanoseconds of the Big Bang.
Not surprisingly, this has spooked some people. If, they say, the plan is to recreate the big bang, how do you know that you won’t do a very good job of it and, well, create a new universe in the middle of this one? Worse still, they fret, what about if you accidentally create a black hole in the fields under Switzerland?
Says the man from CERN:
Any microscopic black holes produced at the LHC are expected to decay by Hawking radiation before they reach the detector walls. If some microscopic black holes were stable, those produced by cosmic rays would be stopped inside the Earth or other astronomical bodies. The stability of astronomical bodies constrains strongly the possible rate of accretion by any such microscopic black holes, so that they present no conceivable danger.
You see? The eggy men take the concerns very seriously. So seriously in fact that they’re willing to back it up with maths!
Look, it’s a 10^-19 chance, and you’ve got a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving.
Well, that told you!
The thing is, that it’s still possible. And if it does all go wrong and we get sucked into a black hole then the chances are that it’s going to happen slowly enough for us to have a good old panic about it. How quickly? Well that’s a good question, and one that I couldn’t have answered if I was stone cold sober. Since I’m not, I’ll give it a shot…
Until this time, the suckiest of sucky things took 3 years to destroy 34mi2 of English countryside. It started in 1964 when the government had ‘an idea’ and ended on 23rd Jan 1967. Everything that’s happened in that troubled land since 1967 has been of complete insignificance and has been ignored by everyone outside the event horizon.
Unfortunately this means that it would take the best part of a decade for the black hole to swallow the Swiss and it would be nearly fifty years before trains stopped leaving the Channel Tunnel. Maybe we need to adjust our opinions of suck before black holes get the reputation of being as dangerous as garlic bread on a first date.
Either way, it’s obvious that we need to be prepared. As in all the planet threatening disasters that Hollywood has informed us of, the most important thing to do is find a member of the opposite sex, look them in the eye very seriously and ask “do you really want to die a virgin?”
Once we all stop thinking about knotting virgins up and dumping them in beetroot juice to make tie-dye virgins, we come to what is obviously the most serious concern we have. Some of us here may not be virgins. Shocking, but true. So I have come up with an alternative…
Should the LHC go all black holey, everyone will be issued with a kink and a member of the opposite sex (sorry to those who want a same sex partner – Hollywood has informed us that you don’t exist in disasters). It will be your duty to look your assigned person in the eye and say to them “The black hole is coming. Do you really want to die without taking part in a furry bukakke scat orgy with midgets and nuns?”