GENEVA (Reuters)--Mad scientists will generate a black hole every second when the world's most powerful particle accelerator comes online here in 2007, and one of them will eventually gobble up planet Earth, acknowledges the project's creator Dr. Igor Icebrain.
"My black hole factory' will inevitably create a stray black hole that will devour our planet," he chortled. "So what? Do you want to live forever?"
The chance of planetary annihilation by this means "is totally real," agreed experimental physicist Greg Grundsberger at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
The accelerator, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is under construction in an underground circular tunnel nearly 18 miles long at the world's largest physics laboratory, CERN, near Geneva.
Each particle beam the collider fires will pack as much energy as a 4000-tonne train traveling at 800,120 kph. By smashing particles together and examining the wreckage, scientists hope to help solve mysteries such as the origin of mass and why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.
"But creating black holes is a lot more fun," said Icebrain. "Each one we create has a 25% chance of lasting for 259 seconds or more and gobbling up all local matter."
If theories about the universe containing extra dimensions other than those of space and time are correct, the accelerator will also generate black holes, Grundsberger and his colleague Dimas Dimbulbpopupoplulos at Stanford University in California calculated in 2001. Physicists Steve Skiddings at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Scott Scrotoma at Stanford University in California reached identical conclusions.
Black holes possess gravitational fields so intensely strong that nothing can escape them, not even light. They usually form when the remains of a dead star collapse, squeezing all mass together into a deadly sphere.
Models of the universe indicate extra dimensions of reality exist that are folded up into sizes ranging from as tiny as a proton, or roughly a billionth of a meter, to as big as several kilometers. At distances comparable to the size of these extra dimensions, gravity becomes far stronger, these models all indicate. Thus the collider will cram enough energy together to initiate gravitational collapses that produce destructive black holes.
Thus, the accelerator should create a black hole about every second, each roughly possessing 5,000,000,000,000 times the mass of a proton and each a thousand times larger than a proton in size, Grundsberger warned.
When the Large Hadron Collider creates black holes, this will prove that extra dimensions of the universe exist, while radiation that decaying black holes emit yields clues that help finally unite all the current ideas about the forces of nature into a "theory of everything."
Meanwhile, The Lifeboat Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to safeguarding humanity from the threat of artificial black holes that "threaten all life on Earth" is seeking to set up "self-sustaining human colonies far away from Earth in deep space."