Talk about missing the point! When I wrote last month about the closing of the Tevatron, the giant particle collider in Batavia, I mentioned that work similar to the Tevatron’s now happens in Europe, where the Large Hadron Collider—which straddles the French and Swiss borders—will eventually smash particles together at seven times the energy of the Tevatron, in hopes of figuring out the elementary makeup of the universe. Certain fears attended the construction of both the Tevatron and the LHC: namely that in creating conditions like those that happened around the time of the big bang, the machines themselves would create a big bang, or forge a black hole, or create some kind of unpredictable and dangerous cosmic blooper—in any event, not a constructive development for life on earth. In 2008, two men filed a lawsuit asking that work on the LHC be halted until a little more research was done on the risks.
The LHC was turned on with little incident—some mechanical problems, no black holes—but the warnings haven’t gone away.