WHEN the Large Hadron Collider, a giant particle accelerator near Geneva, was switched on last September, the press was full of scare stories about the risk of it producing a tiny black hole that would, despite its minuscule size, quickly swallow the Earth. In fact, the first test runs could never have made such an object. And, just over a week later, the LHC broke and has not yet been repaired. But it is true that one of the things its operators would like to create, if and when they get it going again, are miniature versions of those fabled astronomical objects whose intense gravity means no light can escape them.
Among their reasons for this aspiration is a wish to examine Stephen Hawking’s famous but untested prediction that, despite their famous blackness, black holes do actually emit radiation, including light. But if they do not get the LHC running pronto, they may find themselves beaten to the prize of producing this so-called Hawking radiation by an experiment being carried out on a desktop in a laboratory in Haifa.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Geneva vs. Haifa
Remember that giant atomic contraption built under the Swiss-French border that cost gazillions and didn't work? Well, I don't profess to understand any of this article, but the first two paragraphs were fun: