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Large Hadron Collider Sparks 'Doomsday' Lawsuit 731

Posted by Zonk
from the this-looks-like-a-job-for-superman dept.
smooth wombat writes "In what can only be considered a bizarre court case, a former nuclear safety officer and others are suing the U.S. Department of Energy, Fermilab, the National Science Foundation and CERN to stop the use of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) until its safety is reassessed. The plaintiffs cite three possible 'doomsday' scenarios which might occur if the LHC becomes operational: the creation of microscopic black holes which would grow and swallow matter, the creation of strangelets which, if they touch other matter, would convert that matter into strangelets or the creation of magnetic monopoles which could start a chain reaction and convert atoms to other forms of matter. CERN will hold a public open house meeting on April 6 with word having been spread to some researchers to be prepared to answer questions on microscopic black holes and strangelets if asked."
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Large Hadron Collider Sparks 'Doomsday' Lawsuit

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  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:41PM (#22887470)

    the creation of microscopic black holes which would grow and swallow matter


    Are they serious? They make it sound like a Pandora's Box that could destroy the whole planet, or solar system.

    The rest of it just sounds so bizarre it's unreal. The fact that it is people on the inside saying it is somewhat concerning. I don't even know what to think, but those "headlines" are truly spectacular.
  • Not this again... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ethan Allison (904983) <slashdot@neonstream.us> on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:42PM (#22887496) Homepage
    I smell FUD. It says in the article that most scientists dismiss the whole doomsday machine theory.
  • Hawking Radiation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesilverfox06 (999188) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:45PM (#22887512)
    So what if it creates microscopic black holes? They'd dissipate in a fraction of a second. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:46PM (#22887518)
    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/solarsystem/2006_mag_recon.html [nasa.gov]

    I havent seen any massive blackholes emerge and gobble up the sun or solar system. How the hell would the puny LHC be able to do it?

    The jerks suing are just trying to make a name for themselves.

  • Hold on... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:46PM (#22887524)
    Hold on, haven't we been bombarded by even higher energy particles from space for billions of years now without us, or for that matter the world (as in the rest of all visible matter) turning into a black hole?
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:48PM (#22887550)
    The microscopic black hole thing is passably plausible, although any such tiny black holes are far more likely to evaporate almost instantly than launch into a positive feedback state.

        The magnetic monopole creation is almost surely complete bunk, as (so far as I know) no one has ever detected signs of such a thing (nor is anyone certain that such a beast can exist). On the other hand, Dirac showed that the existence of even a single magnetic monopole, somewhere in the universe might explain charge quantization. The converse, however, may not hold.
  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:51PM (#22887580) Journal
    The reason they're doing the experiment is because they don't know what will happen.

    Any scientists who say that they know one way or another what will happen are not scientists at all.

    Scientific experiments that aren't surrounded by uncertainty and doubt are not much use in removing uncertainty, are they?
  • by EjectButton (618561) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:52PM (#22887594)
    I think we can all agree that even if it does end the world it would be an even greater crime to build a machine that big and then not turn it on. I would rather be converted into strangelets than living in THAT world.
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:57PM (#22887644) Journal

    even if it does end the world it would be an even greater crime to build a machine that big and then not turn it on.
    he he... glad you see it that way. better to be destroyed trying to learn something new than live forever in a state of perpetual ignorance.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wass (72082) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:02PM (#22887704)
    A nuclear safety officer is hardly on the 'inside of' the LHC team.

    The article didn't go into the scientific backgrounds of the guys involved, but the job requirements of being a nuclear safety officer is hardly any prerequisite to being able to in any way accurately understanding the quantum chromodynamics, or even quantized general relativity (which nobody can do yet), etc involved in the LHC.

    This would be like an airport luggage screener making claims about the aerodynamical stability of a fighter aircraft, or an electrician who can wire up a new 110 AC outlet in your house making claims about transistor-level details of the latest Intel CPU.

    While it's possible they might be experts in highly technical fields hugely beyond their job descriptions, it's fairly unlikely.

    This doesn't mean that their concerns are necessarily invalid, but they shouldn't be given any more credibility than other non-members of the LHC team.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:02PM (#22887706)

    As you sow so shall you reap.

    After reading the tenth or twentieth scientific article that interviewed people working on the LHC, that includes some wild speculation about remote possibilities that might come to pass when it comes online... this surprises me not at all. I understand being a bit sensationalist to make a more entertaining article. I understand hyping the potential a bit to help keep that government funding coming in. Still, black holes, strangelets, cascading subatomic events, time travelers finding the earliest point to return to... it was a bit much. Maybe you get promoted in experimental physics by making waves and smoking pot with the boss. The you want your name in a magazine so you spin some half-assed idea as though it was a real possibility. The only problem is, some people listened and are now worried.

    This is why the Manhattan project was top-secret: two out of six physicists think it might destroy the planet... okay those are good odds, let's try it.

  • by thesilverfox06 (999188) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:02PM (#22887710)
    Well then it's a good thing I didn't get my information FROM Wikipedia, but instead just linked to it since it's a convenient resource and the information contained on that article agrees with my previous knowledge of Hawking Radiation.
  • Re:idiots! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:05PM (#22887746) Journal
    you mean this?:

    The cosmic-ray argument has been applied to the black-hole and strangelet scenarios as well. If such dangerous things can be created, why haven't they already eaten up Earth, along with other planets, stars or whole galaxies in the billions of years since the universe arose? To answer that question, Sancho and Wagner pose a counterargument: Perhaps cosmic-ray collisions really are creating tiny black holes or strangelets, but those little bits of doomsday zip by too fast to cause any trouble. In the LHC, they say, the bad stuff could hang around long enough to be captured by Earth's gravity and set off a catastrophe.
    I've got a counter-counter argument for you: consider the number of cosmic ray hits over billions of years. it would stand to reason that some of them would be in the range of the LHC and would not in fact zip right on by- they would in fact be just as likely to be "captured" as anything produced in the LHC. then there's the fact that a lot of the cosmic ray particles can't zip right on through even at higher energies- there's 8,000 miles of rock and metal between them and the other side if they hit right. if blackholes, monopoles and strangelets are producable and dangerous at these energies, they would have done us in a long time ago because there would be at least a few that wouldn't escape over such a long time span.
  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gmail . c om> on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:14PM (#22887834) Journal
    How could a tiny black hole engender a positive feedback loop? I'm not even speaking of Hawking's radiation here; but how would a few g big blackhole do anything? Its mass being tiny, it's not going to have much gravity at all, so it's not going to attract anything to grow. At most will behave like a heavy particle. Big black holes suck up stuff because their gravity overcomes all other forces, but here that can't be the case.
    Clearly, they have mistaken the catchy name for the definition.
  • by node 3 (115640) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:15PM (#22887858)

    Scientific experiments that aren't surrounded by uncertainty and doubt are not much use in removing uncertainty, are they?
    Well, that's the UD of FUD, but this whole episode centers really around the F.

    While the whole point of any experiment is to generally know the unknown, to clarify the doubt, there are still expected ranges of outcomes. For example, while you might not know what will happen if you feed your adult dog Puppy Chow, you can be fairly confident it's not going to turn him into a cat.

    Likewise, while the people at CERN may not know if they'll get mini black holes, they can be fairly sure the sorts of dangers they pose, which are "none".

    My understanding of the LHC is that it doesn't do anything that doesn't already happen on Earth already. The main difference is that instead of the mini black holes being created by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere where we can't study them, they are happening right inside of a controlled scientific device, which is the ideal place to study them.

    Am I to believe that the energies and particles involved are beyond what happens on/in the sun, or when the Earth is bombarded by radiation from space, or inside of an H-bomb explosion? If so, that's quite amazing.
  • by hasdikarlsam (414514) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:28PM (#22887996)
    It's fairly likely that cosmic rays hitting us *do* produce black holes, which then evaporate nearly instantly.

    Okay, so far so good, but what would happen if they didn't evaporate? Well, the black holes would still be moving at 99.9% of C, so would have no chance to lodge inside the earth..

    LHC, on the other hand, uses two particle streams colliding head on. Any resulting black holes should be standing nearly still in comparison - most likely more than one in a million will in fact be moving less than escape velocity. Of course, that does probably give us time to notice that they're not evaporating before one stays; unfortunately, some of the ones that escape will end up inside the *sun* instead.

    Now, as to reactions happening inside the sun.. you may have a point there. I don't know; if you do, I'd like a reference.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Original Replica (908688) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:33PM (#22888056) Journal
    accurately understanding the quantum chromodynamics, or even quantized general relativity (which nobody can do yet)

    Perhaps it is that lack of understanding that is the cause for concern. I understand that the point of LHC is to increase that understanding, but much of human knowledge is gained by making mistakes, then figuring out where we were wrong. When it comes to making a blackhole, the repercussions of a mistake could conceivably be the end of our entire solar system. I don't think it's wrong for there to be a public inquiry about the safety measures in place if something unplanned happens. What would they do if the LHC did make a blackhole that started growing? It is not wrong to stop and ask these questions when the cost of failure is potentially a global concern.
  • Re:John Titor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:35PM (#22888084) Homepage Journal
    Without 'e' you cannot have enlightenment.
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:37PM (#22888108)

    Big black holes suck up stuff because their gravity overcomes all other forces, but here that can't be the case.
    Semantics, pff. Get close enough to that tiny particle, and 1/r^2 is going to win every time.
          To argue your main point, though, I think that is one of the reasons (in addition to the Hawking radiation argument) that those microgram 'holes aren't dangerous: to feed in enough mass to make the thing grow would take an incredible density of mass very close to the b'hole's location, and you can't get much of that density on Earth anyway. (Here I'm talking about a sort of "macroscopic" density, not that of nearly-pointlike particles like electrons or neutrons.)

          Remember, too, that *energy* has mass -- massive objects have tremendous amounts of energy in the gravitational fields surrounding them, and these fields contribute mass to the "whole hole". It can be shown that when an object reaches such a state that the field energy starts to attract itself more rapidly than it's radiated, _that's_ when an event horizon will form. This can happen at any size. Just because the black hole can't sustain its own growth due to environmental constraints doesn't mean it's not a black hole.
  • On strangelets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuzak (959558) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:38PM (#22888122) Journal
    If a strangelet chain reaction were possible, then it wouldn't stop at earth, right? So why haven't we detected any strangelet stars? Heck if one of them went nova, we should be seeing strangelet galaxies, no?
  • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:41PM (#22888154)

    This doesn't mean that their concerns are necessarily invalid, but they shouldn't be given any more credibility than other non-members of the LHC team.

    Yes, this nuclear safety officer should get more credibility than others outside the LHC team. Here's why: random Joe Schmoe from Vermont or some random state has no experience, no education in this area etc. His credibility is neutral, as would be that of any member of the general public. The nuclear safety officer may not have any more educational experience than Joe Schmoe, but he works on the LHC, and is therefore in a position to hear things that some random member of the public may not be exposed to. Therefore, we have to give him somewhat higher credibility, and at least listen to his concerns and ask where he got them from. Could be he overheard the head scientist talking about it, or saw a report on the subject. He has access to much more information than a random individual (especially since scientists are in the business of being open and often don't secure their research as heavilly as, say, the military might)

  • by das_magpie (1149995) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:43PM (#22888172)

    Hawking Radiation has never been observed, it is unproven nobody can tell you for certain it actually exists.

    By turning on this machine scientists are 'hoping' they will observe hawking radiation amongst a whole lot of other things.

    I am kind of annoyed about this LHC because the CERN website tries to tell the public that we are all safe from MBHs because of hawking radiation, but this is clearly a lie when hawking radiation only exists in theory, I do not appreciate being lied to particularly when it comes to science experiments.

    See: Safety at the LHC [web.cern.ch]
  • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quietlysubversive (132179) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:47PM (#22888218)
    well, the sad thing is that if anything were to go wrong, you wouldn't actually find out what happened. By the time whatever chain reaction escaped the LHC, it would be moving infinitely fast and the only thing you would find out is what its like to suddenly cease to exist :-(
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grave (8234) <awalbert88@hotmaiFREEBSDl.com minus bsd> on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:09PM (#22888440)
    There were fears by some scientists (not many, but a few) of the Manhattan Project that maybe they shouldn't detonate that test atomic bomb because the chain reaction might not actually stop, and could ignite the entire atmosphere.

    This is such a cutting-edge field that it is easy for otherwise intelligent people to reach incorrect conclusions. Still, we really don't know with 100% certainty just how everything will work with this aspect of physics. If we did, we wouldn't need to build these ultra-expensive colliders to do testing.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:15PM (#22888494) Homepage Journal
    In all fairness to the LHC people, the worst possible outcome is a blackhole that swallows the earth, not the solar system. It's not like there is magic mass available, to make the black-hole earth have more gravity than the earth does and pull in the rest of the solar system. It would just sit there orbiting the sun like the earth does now.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goaway (82658) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:24PM (#22888576) Homepage
    Due diligence may be quite prudent. However, that doesn't mean these guys are not nutcases.

    Far higher-energy interaction happen every day as high-energy cosmic rays hit the atmosphere. If these things could happen, they would have already happened and destroyed the Earth long ago.
  • by invisiblerhino (1224028) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:29PM (#22888608)
    We have no idea whether the laws of physics will remain constant from one second to the next, let alone what the outcome of a given experiment will be. However, the popular consensus is that things will carry on much as they were. For things we don't understand, we look to experts. Most of those experts work at CERN, and unlike the Manhattan project, it isn't classified - wouldn't you expect one of those thousands of people to make some sort of noise if they thought there was a risk of something going wrong?
  • by forand (530402) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:49PM (#22888788) Homepage
    IAAPP-Gravity is weak. VERY weak. This is the basis of the evaporation idea. The rest of space has enough latent energy around to pop particles and anti-particles(in exactly equal numbers) in and out of existence. Near the surface of a black hole Hawking theorized that some such particles would be within the schwarzchild radius and their partners outside. These would cause the black hole to lose energy overall as it radiated away particles. This occurs because the binding energy of some such particles is far greater than gravity AT ANY DISTANCE. Basically r^{-2} does NOT always win, other forces have greater influence at different length scales.
  • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:49PM (#22888794)
    This is quite misrepresenting the situation: they have very, very good ideas of what will happen, but they've been unable to test some of the crucial border cases for lack of a giant supercollider. It's not as if they're just building a machine with no idea of what will happen. (If they didn't have any idea of what would happen, they wouldn't have enough information to properly build the machine or detectors.)
  • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:51PM (#22888820)
    Not being believed is hardly a qualification for being right.
  • Cosmic Rays (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Strider- (39683) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:52PM (#22888824)
    Uh... if this was possible, our planet would never have existed. Cosmic rays whack our atmosphere all the time with far more energy than the LHC could hope to generate. Even if this causes a momentary microscopic black hole, it obviously doesn't matter, since we're still here.
  • by megaditto (982598) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:54PM (#22888844)
    How many scientists actually believe in Hawking Radiation? Has it been ever observed? Has this hypothesis been verified experimentally in any way?

    Is Hawking Radiation anything beyond a neat mathematical conjecture based on a demonstrably flawed theory of quantum mechanics? [wikipedia.org] Not like Hawking hasn't admitted to being wrong before, you know...
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:32PM (#22889114) Homepage Journal

    Let's look at the credentials of said "nuclear safety officer":

    """
    Walter Wagner graduated UC Berkeley with a Minor in Physics, and a Major in Biology. Later, he discovered a novel particle in a balloon-borne cosmic ray detector, initially identified as a magnetic monopole. Though its identity remains uncertain, it is definitely not within the standard repertoire of known particles. After a three-year break from science to attend law school, Dr. Wagner resumed work in Physics and Biology at the US Veterans Administration Medical Center in San Francisco, working in Nuclear Medicine and Health Physics. He then embarked on teaching Science and Mathematics, from grade school to college. Dr. Wagner developed a botanical garden in Hawaii, and continues involvement with several professional associations, including Health Physics Society and Society of Nuclear Medicine.
    """

    So, this is a guy who discovered a magnetic monopole (which would theoretically tear the universe apart, right?) and works at a VA med center? He only has a minor in physics? The "nuclear safety blah blah" in this case means nuclear medicine, as in the guy who makes sure no one mishandles the radioactive dye they use at every hospital in the US.

    Some expert.
    Now give us yours: What qualifies you to judge this mans' credentials?
  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pendersempai (625351) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:49PM (#22889248)

    In fact, nobody really know what will happen when the machine is switched on.
    Well, no one knows what happens on the subatomic scale when the particles collide. On the macro, visible-to-the-human-eye scale, you could say that we know exactly what will happen: basically nothing. This sort of particle collision must happen all the time in the sun or near its rays, so the fact that the planets in our solar system and sun haven't already been swallowed by strangelets or black holes or singularities suggests that we probably don't have to worry about those things.

    I don't have a lot of respect for arrogant scientists blithely telling us everything is safe when history keeps proving them wrong over and over again, or for people that use science like a bible to bash people with.
    Huh? Who here is using science like a bible? Is this rant related to the topic of discussion, or just sort of an extracurricular?
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BorgCopyeditor (590345) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @11:07PM (#22889716)

    Lenny Bruce is not afraid.

    Well, if Lester Bangs gets involved, perhaps Mr. Bruce should be afraid. You know how these things end: birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, BOOM!

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wass (72082) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @11:25PM (#22889830)
    Right on! Thank goodness everyone at Slashdot has their PhD in theoretical Physics.

    Damn it, at first I was going to say "ah ha", since I just got my PhD (I defended less than two weeks ago) in Experimental Physics (condensed matter). But then I saw that you qualified it with theoretical physics, and alas, I cannot say "ah ha" anymore :-(

    But yet your sarcasm proves my point exactly!

    Having a PhD in condensed matter experimental physics, in no way whatsoever am I qualified to qualify the creation of 'strangelets' or microscopic black holes. I've taken my share of grad classes, such as graduate-level quantum mechanics (Sakurai) and E&M (Jackson) with other high-energy theorists, and I've even done a small bit of relativistic quantum field theory (Peskin/Schroeder).

    Given all this, I barely even know enough of quantum electrodynamics, much less QCD or anything well beyond that, to make valid judgements of the effects of LHC. But I'm supposed to take the word of a guy on these same topics with far less physics experience than me?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2008 @11:31PM (#22889856)

    Let me repeat myself again: I AM NOT OPPOSED TO SUPERCOLLIDER RESEARCH ON THE GROUNDS THAT SOMEONE MIGHT DIE. I AM OPPOSED TO SUPERCOLLIDER RESEARCH ON OUR ONLY PLANET ON THE GROUNDS THAT EVERYONE MIGHT DIE. (Apologies for yelling, but I really can't stress this distinction enough, apparently).

    Prometheus: Playing with sticks from Gods. Learning how to make fire.
    Cassander: Might set whole world ablaze.

    Oppenheimer: Squish fissiles together. Make big fire.
    Cassander: Chain reaction might set the atmosphere on fire.
    Oppenheimer and Teller: No, the equations say it won't.
    Cassander: Not understand equations. Don't care what you say. Gonna yell loud.

    CERN: Squish hadrons together. Make Higgs boson.
    Cassander: Not know what Higgs boson is. Type in all caps!

    Cassander: (exhales for the fifteenth time this friggin' minute! and he does it 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!)
    Anonymous Coward: I'm not opposed to your breathing on the grounds that you may or may not PERSONALLY have the right to your own life. I am opposed to the SOCIETAL risk of EVERYONE dying on the grounds YOUR NEXT BREATH MIGHT BE THE ONE THAT PRODUCES THE FINAL MOLECULE OF CARBON DIOXIDE THAT PUSHES GLOBAL WARMING PAST THE TIPPING POINT AND TURNS EARTH INTO VENUS, KILLING ALL SEVEN BILLION OF US. You wanna breathe, do it in a controlled fashion. You know, like in a location that, if your next breath does produce that fatal molecule of CO2, the destruction will be localized to whatever orbital colony we sent you to, rather than our entire civilization.

  • No jurisdiction (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2008 @03:39AM (#22891154)
    No one seems to have noticed yet that a US district court has zero jurisdiction over a facility that's located in France and Switzerland ?.

    Worst case they can tell the US that they can't participate - Whooo!!!! - most of the US's contribution will have been spent already and there'll be all this spare time now for the rest of the world ...

    I fail to see how CERN cares :)

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday March 28, 2008 @03:59AM (#22891214)
    Ok. So people who studied this topic for years are fairly confident that there is no risk. Understand to boot that they have a professional aversion to saying "impossible". Someone else asks a question that doesn't have an answer, and thinks that all progress should be stopped to answer the question first. Let's also assume that the question is: "Does lighting this match create invisible pink unicorns that will eat my soul?" Do you still think that this is a reasonable course of action?

    Because that's essentially what you're doing.
  • Re:idiots! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:10AM (#22891952)
    Hey, and I have got a counter-counter-counter argument!

    If you hit the earth with a ultra high energy particle (e.g. cosmic ray), the particle GRADUALLY loses energy due to the process which has been well described by Bethe-Bloch.

    If you now do a CENTER OF MASS COLLISION of two particles in the LHC, all the energy will be available for high energy processes in an instant. I consider this a different scenario. Maybe there are real-world cases where these things happen and show that we're safe (you'll probably need to start to list things like black-hole jets, GRBs etc. - which is kind of ironic...) but the 'cosmic rays hit the earth'-argument just ain't worth anything in this discussion.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drerwk (695572) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:35AM (#22892398) Homepage
    Sorry - not buying your claim that they continue to move at the speed of light. Momentum is conserved between the incoming cosmic ray and the object with which it collides slowing the whole result down. The only particles that have truly low cross section are neutrinos, and possibly dark matter if it has any cross section. The reason that we put neutrino detectors deep in the earth is because doing so shields the detectors from all cosmic rays. Since no cosmic rays are getting to these detectors they, and their collision products certainly all stop in the first few thousands of meters of the earth. IAAP
  • by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:37AM (#22892404) Homepage Journal
    Imagine if you will that the seeds of life could be found, at one point in time, on millions of planets with drastically varying situations; e.g., very close to a star, very far away from a star, on a gas giant, on a planet like Venus, on a planet relatively close to a strong gamma-ray source, etc.

    After a few billion years, you'd find that life as we know it had failed to exist on the planets that were not compatible with carbon-based life. The planets that were conducive to life, such as Earth, would be teaming with it. Some life might point to their very existence as proof of an intelligent design, but the more intellectually advanced members of the species might realize that the situation could be no different. A non-existent or dead observer cannot observe that "Hey, life really sucks here next to this quasar, why the hell would an intelligent designer put us here?"

    The fact that we are here, and alive, tells us NOTHING about an intelligent designer. The fact that we are conveniently located has nothing to do with design- it has everything to do with necessary conditions for life (as we know it). If conditions were different, we wouldn't be here to comment on how crappy the conditions were.

    This argument reminds me of an old Chick Tract that stated that since bananas were so delicious and convenient to eat, that it proved the existence of a kind and benevolent god. I noted with some interest that the Tract ignored things like walnuts, lactose intolerance, rhubarb leaves, salmonella, poi, and various other poisonous or troublesome foods. Fun.

    This idea is know as the anthropic principle. It makes for interesting reading.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic [wikipedia.org]

    -b

Philogyny recapitulates erogeny; erogeny recapitulates philogyny.

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