The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, is indeed the most powerful particle accelerator built yet by mankind. It smashes protons together at speeds to mere thousandths of a percent off ‘C’, the speed of light that is famously unobtainable by anything except light itself. But will it destroy the Earth? Could it?
The answer to both questions, and one that has a resounding basis in scientific fact, is ‘No’. The LHC will not destroy the planet; it does not have the capability to even come close. So why have people been saying that it could, or even going as far to say that it will, when the scientific majority is so obviously favouring the other side?
Firstly, some fear that the LHC will create a minuscule black hole, one only the size of atoms themselves. They then boldly go on to state that this black hole could devour the earth itself.
Patently this is fictional. Black holes are theorised, with current knowledge, to slowly disappear, evaporating by giving off something called “Hawking Radiation”. Black holes are permanently giving out this radiation, even when consuming other matter. As a result of this, a tiny black hole, if one where to be created by LHC, would evaporate nearly instantly, posing no threat to planet Earth. Secondly, black holes must engulf matter for them to grow. The tunnel of the LHC is a vacuum more perfect than that of outer space, and so the black hole would have no ‘food’, nothing for it to grow on, save the two minute particles from which it would have been created. Even when the LHC swaps its protons for Lead ions sometime in 2009, there will still not be enough matter to sustain a black hole.
Secondly, the collisions at the LHC, though powerful by human standards, are in fact tiny in comparison to the scales of the cosmos. Collisions between protons and indeed much heavier particles, have been occurring since the start of the universe itself. We have no evidence any of these collisions created even a single, microscopic black hole, let alone a planet devouring one. Even in our solar system, cosmic rays from the sun have been smashing into other space-borne particles, including the highest atmosphere of our own planet, with much higher energies than will ever be reached by the LHC. Therefore, if a black hole or the like was to appear, it would already have done so. Since the planet is still here, we are forced to conclude that it has not indeed happened, and due to this planet having been in existence for over 4.5 Billion years, and the unimaginable amount of times such collisions must have therefore occurred, that it is not going to happen in the future.
So in conclusion, fewer people will be killed by LHC than really any massive machine humanity has made before, as that number will remain at a very safe, planet-securing, Zero.