So What Are the Odds?

John Howe’s Glorund vs Turin imageWell, I’ve said (and pointed to) enough on the matter, but I could not resist a quote from today’s essay by Dennis Overbye in the New York Times (do have a look at the rest of it):

Besides, the random nature of quantum physics means that there is always a minuscule, but nonzero, chance of anything occurring, including that the new collider could spit out man-eating dragons.

Excellent! Proper flying, armoured, fire-breathing, talking, treasure-hoarding, magic-wielding ones I hope. It would sharpen the focus of humanity quite nicely. (Secretly, I’m not sure that I don’t prefer that to happen over discovering the new (and of course non-apocalyptic) experimental access to studying quantum gravity we’d get if we could create black holes at the LHC*. I expect that after some morning coffee I’ll come back to my senses…)

Enlargeable image is one of John Howe’s lovely paintings. Turambar and Glorund, (Turin and Glaurung, for you populists) from a wonderful tale of a battle from Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales (or was it the Silmarillion…no I think it was the former). (Yes, I know that Glorund/Glaurung was not a flying dragon.)


*Of course, if they were Anne McCaffrey type dragons, we’d get to study extra dimensions as well, right? (Not sure if anyone has a clue what I’m talking about… so I’ll not elaborate.)

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10 Responses to So What Are the Odds?

  1. Jude says:

    McCaffrey’s dragons would be nice, especially since they’re based in science fiction, not fantasy (although I’ve largely overcome my prejudice against fantasy). Maybe the LHC will just wake the dragons up (see the movie Reign of Fire).

  2. Clifford says:

    I’d prefer Tolkien dragons… Except for their being able to go “between”, I find McCaffrey’s dragons much less interesting. As for the Science Fiction vs Fantasy debate… I’ve never understood why there was a reason to choose. There’s good and bad on both sides. It’s a bit like disliking either all dogs or all cats, in favour of the other*.

    At the end of the day, it’s all about telling the great stories that captivate us – whether there are swords and magic or lasers and nanobots is sort of irrelevant if it is a good story told well.



    *Although cats are clearly better, on balance, of course.. 😉

  3. Pyracantha says:

    maybe the LHC could spit out a “Boltzmann Brain?” (I learned about this bizarre idea from NEW SCIENTIST magazine.) And then maybe it could solve our world’s problems with its near-infinite intelligence, before popping back into non-existence.

  4. How about the LuckDragon Falkor from the Never Ending Story?

  5. Elliot says:

    With QM, just about anything can happen anytime anywhere. Like right now I could just turn into a djeuixldhhnsxchern…….

  6. Plato says:

    Since your spam filter ate my last post I thought I would try it again by referencing it now. There Be Dragons?

    Maybe that is what you want(?) and should just leave it at that?

  7. Elliot says:

    It just occurred to me that this argument could have been used to push for renewed funding for ILC in the United States. I think it would be tremendously disappointing to a group of “patriotic” Americans, if the world was destroyed and the United States did not get credit for it.


  8. JTankers says:

    I am an American, and I think as a rule we try to save the world, not destroy it. Case and point…

    CERNs web site states that we have not been destroyed by effects of cosmic rays and micro black holes will evaporate.

    However, cosmic rays strike relatively stationary objects and results travel too fast to be captured by Earths gravity, while colliders smash particles head on, may focus all energy to a single point and can be captured by Earths gravity. Einsteins relativity theory predicts that micro black holes will not decay but instead only grow, and Hawking Radiation contradicts relativity, is unproven and is disputed by at least 3 peer reviewed studies that find no basis in science to support it.

    The LHC Safety Assessment Group has been trying for months to prove safety without success. However science may still be a few years away from being able to prove safety or not.

    Professor Dr. Otto E. Rössler (winner University of Liège Chaos Award and René Descartes Award), Dr. Raj Baldev (Director of the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research) and others are warning of a very real, very possible, very present danger to the planet from the Large Hadron Collider. Dr. Rössler predicts that a single microblackhole could destroy the planet in as little and 50 months. His calculations have been released for peer review.

    If this experiment is so safe, why arent CERN scientists allowed to express any personal fears they might have about this Collider?

    Alleged in the legal action: Chief Scientific Officer, Mr. Engelen passed an internal memorandum to workers at CERN, asking them, regardless of personal opinion, to affirm in all interviews that there were no risks involved in the experiments, changing the previous assertion of minimal risk. (Statisticians generally consider minimal risk as 1-10%).

    Previous safety studies ruled out any possibility of creating microblackholes in a collider. But predictions have changed and CERN has estimated the possibility of creating 1 microblackhole per second in the Large Hadron Collider. No peer reviewed safety study has ever been produced that I am aware of that speaks to the safety of creating microblackholes on Earth.

    If we delay for a safety study, some scientists at CERN may not be the first to discover some new science, and some Nobel prizes may be at stake.
    But which would more wise, conduct a full and independent adversarial peer reviewed safety study first, or just turn it on now and discover science as quickly as humanly possible?


  9. JTankers says:

    I should say we may be a few years away from being able to predict a probability of danger or not with some degree of confidence with respect to creation of micro black holes and capture of by Earth’s gravity.

    The only joke here is that we have NO peer reviewed safety studies that I am aware of that take into account the predictions that the Large Hadron Collider may create micro black holes and some percentage of such MBHs created may have velocities slow enough to be captured by Earth’s gravity. the 1999 RHIC safety study only stated that creation of micro black holes was not beleived to be possible at the proposed energy levels. These predictions may have changed!

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