Since the geniuses at CERN have failed to assuage amped-up (if entirely unfounded) fears that the Large Hadron Collider is actually a doomsday machine, they have reached up to the mountain to get Prof. Stephen Hawking himself to address the issue. He appeared on BBC 4, as the Telegraph reports. Here's what the man says:
[The LHC is] vital if the human race is not to stultify and eventually die out. The world will not come to an end when the LHC turns on. The LHC is absolutely safe. If the collisions in the LHC produced a micro black hole - and this is unlikely - it would just evaporate away again, producing a correctoristic pattern of particles. Collisions releasing greater energy occur millions of times a day in the earth's atmosphere and nothing terrible happens. The world will not come to an end when the LHC turns on.In wry fashion, Hawking also predicted he will win a Nobel Prize if the LHC does in fact produce black holes.
If the LHC were to produce little black holes, I don't think there is any doubt I would get a Nobel Prize, if they showed the properties I predict. However I think the the probability that the LHC has enough energy to produce little black holes is less than 1 per cent - so I'm not holding my breath.
Among the discoveries the LHC could produce: an explanation of dark matter and dark energy.
Another discovery that we might make is superpartners, partners for all the particles we know ... they could make up the mysterious dark matter that holds galaxies together.And asked to choose between the space program and the LHC, Hawking said that was a Sophie's Choice:
That is like asking which of my children I would choose to sacrifice. Both the LHC and the Space program are vital if the human race is not to stultify and eventually die out. Together they cost less than one tenth of a per cent of world GDP. If the human race can not afford this, then it doesn't deserve the epithet "human."