The Hadron Collider could destroy our planet.
When I was researching my latest novel, a physicist remarked to me that “the Large Hadron Collider isn’t going to open the gates of hell, you know.” Darn it, I thought: that would have been a great publicity angle. For those of you who regard science as something that happens to other people, the LHC is a device for smashing protons together. Scientists hope to re-create the moments after the big bang and discover new stuff about the universe. Particularly, they hope to find the theoretical Higgs boson, or the “God particle,” as scientists hate to hear it called, which could explain the origins of mass in the universe. Unfortunately, as with any experiment worth pursuing, there are certain risks involved, and these include, according to the naysayers, the possibility that a miniature black hole will be created, sucking the Earth and all of us into it, where we will be crushed to a point of infinite density. Which will hurt, but not for very long. Similarly, the Earth might be flooded by strangelets, a form of quark matter that could initiate a fusion process converting all the nuclei on the planet to strange matter. The odds of this happening have been reckoned at about 50 million to 1: better than your odds of winning the lottery, curiously, which may not be entirely consoling. So far, the doom-mongers have been proved right in one respect: something terrible did happen when the LHC was about to be turned on. It didn’t work, which has led to further speculation, from serious scientists, that the collider is being sabotaged from the future. Now who says science isn’t interesting?
Connolly is the bestselling author of The Lovers, among many others, and most recently The Gates, in which the LHC opens the gates of hell.