The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator that straddles the border of France and Switzerland, is quite busy lately playing with the most basic ingredients of the universe. Much of humanity is completely oblivious to what is taking place there, even though the elemental forces of creation are being manipulated as never before. Perhaps it's time to take a closer look at some of the more profound questions surrounding this type of scientific research. For the uninitiated, a more thorough description of the LHC with many informative links has been provided below.
"The LHC lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres (17 mi) in circumference, as much as 175 metres (574 ft) beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. This synchrotron is designed to collide opposing particle beams of either protons at an energy of 7 teraelectronvolts (1.12 microjoules) per particle, of lead nuclei at an energy of 574 TeV (92.0 J) per nucleus. The term hadron refers to particles composed of quarks.
The Large Hadron Collider was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy physics, including the existence of the hypothesized Higgs boson and of the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetry. It is funded by and built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.
On 10 September 2008, the proton beams were successfully circulated in the main ring of the LHC for the first time, but 9 days later operations were halted due to a serious fault. On 20 November 2009 they were successfully circulated again, with the first protonproton collisions being recorded 3 days later at the injection energy of 450 GeV per beam. After the 2009 winter shutdown, the LHC was restarted and the beam was ramped up to 3.5 TeV per beam, half its designed energy.. On 30 March 2010, the first planned collisions took place between two 3.5 TeV beams, which set a new world record for the highest-energy man-made particle collisions. " (Per Wikipedia)
Should CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) be conducting research, which purportedly can produce black holes and other "serious" phenomena, that can have awesome, unintended consequences for the entire planet? We're talking unforeseen, far-reaching ramifications that cannot even be conjectured " for the whole of civilization, mind you.
The link that follows furnishes us with a short description of what goes on within the workings of this Large Hadron Collider: (WARNING: Not for the fainthearted)
In the wake of the BP Gulf Oil Spill, many of us now know things that we were not aware of before the 20th of April. That applied science and applied petroleum engineering do not always keep up with the necessities and demands of the experiment or test or whatever it is that the scientists are subjecting to extraordinary scrutiny in their laboratories. In the case of the Gulf of Mexico, of course, the state of the art expertise and equipment, technology and methodology fell far short of capping an out of control oil well, as well as containing the spilt oil.
Does the vast majority of residents on planet Earth really want to allow a rich and powerful few to indulge themselves at the risk of unknown planetary consequences?
Should we be concerned about such license being arrogated unto itself by CERN in the name of scientific inquiry? Do these scientists really understand the unknown potential for inconceivable collateral damage, should these experiments go awry? Can there be unseen and unfelt toxic side effects produced in this type of particle physics research laboratory that can escape from the immediate environment and affect the surrounding French and Swiss villages and countryside? Do they really understand the implications of their unprecedented actions, should something occur in addition to the appearance of a strangelet(s)? Or a black hole?! Or the most elusive and sublime God particle? (1)
We ask these questions because very few seem to be curious about any potential repercussions. Of course, the more serious question is what will be CERN's response if unexpected contingencies arise that cannot be addressed appropriately in real time. Just as the equipment, technology and engineering of the Oil & Gas Industry had not been proportionately upgraded to respond to the challenges of the BP Gulf Oil Spill, the particle physics and nuclear research industry may find itself in a similar predicament, only with far greater consequences for humankind?
Perhaps it's time to pause and ask, "Why?" Why does our civilization continue down this path of analyzing, and fracturing, and taking apart, and splitting, and dissecting, etc. until there is nothing left on the laboratory table but ". ?
A very prescient fellow once commented that all of these experiments ultimately had at least one or two very specific goals in mind for those who are actually behind them, and who pull the levers of power and money to guarantee their funding: