Could a Particle Accelerator Destroy Earth?
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Could a Particle Accelerator Destroy Earth?

Advancing particle physics demands we build
bigger and badder particle accelerators, but every time the conversation about the next
ultra-mega-super collider comes up some stick in the mud announces that it could kill us
and the whole universe… But will it? You probably fall into one or two camps on
this subject. Either you’re like me and you think that
smashing some protons into each other head on at near light speed is just going to create
some pretty pictures and obliterated protons, or you think it’ll create some pretty pictures
and obliterate the Earth. But the quantum world is weird and unintuitive,
so let’s all put our assumptions aside for one second and genuinely examine the supposed
ways CERN could kill us all. One of the stranger ideas revolves around
strange matter called strangelets. Strangelets are hypothetical forms of matter
made up of up, down, and strange quarks. They’re structure would make them more stable
than ordinary nuclei. In the right conditions, they could, hypothetically,
rearrange ordinary matter, converting it to be like itself,* causing a runaway chain reaction
that shrinks earth down to a 100 meter wide ball of strangeness. A space oddity. It’s like the subatomic version of ice-nine. And if you don’t know what ice-nine is,
read cat’s cradle. Vonnegut is an American treasure. Strangelets were a concern when the world’s
second most powerful particle accelerator, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in the
US, was switched on in the year 2000 so far there’s still no sign of them. So that’s encouraging. Then of course there’s the fear that just
won’t go away, the idea that particle colliders will create a black hole that swallows the
Earth. Well guess what, there’s some truth to this
idea. But a teeeeeeny tiny one. Physicists have theorized the existence of
micro black holes, but they’d be pretty unimpressive. First you have to remember that a black hole’s
gravity depends on its mass. If the Earth were suddenly compacted down
to just nine millimeters across, small enough to become a black hole, the moon’s orbit
wouldn’t change. Black hole Earth has the same gravitational
pull as vanilla Earth. So a ultra-small black hole wouldn’t be
able to suck much in, and it would take three trillion years for it to reach the mass of
one kilogram. But the black hole doesn’t have that much
time. Stephen Hawking theorized that black holes
decay and give off Hawking radiation. Even making the most generous assumptions
possible, a micro black hole would exist for all of 10-23 seconds. So even if a particle accelerator could create
black holes, they pose no threat whatsoever. Finally, it’s been suggested that particle
accelerators might not just be the end of Earth but the entire universe. The idea is called Vacuum Decay, which postulates
that the vacuum our universe exists in is in a metastable state, meaning it seems like
it’s in a stable state, but something could disrupt it and drop it to a lower, more stable
energy state. If that happens it could create a bubble of
the new stable vacuum that spreads across the universe at light speed, wiping out literally
everything, right down to the fundamental laws of physics. Some researchers suggest a particle accelerator
could be the thing that tips our nice safe false vacuum over the edge, maybe even by
way of micro black holes, so double whammy! But I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Actually a good argument against any collider-caused
doomsday scenario is all around us. While smashing particles is an impressive
feat for humans, it’s pretty humdrum for the universe. Millions of collisions releasing more energy
than any particle accelerator happen daily, just above our heads as cosmic rays collide
in our atmosphere. The moon has been bombarded with cosmic rays
for billions of years and it’s still there. If strangelets or micro black holes or vacuum
decay were to kill us all, it probably would have happened by now. Smashing some protons here on Earth and destroying
the universe is kind of like plugging in your night light and causing a countrywide blackout. So there’s no reason not to keep pushing
the limits of particle accelerators. In fact, doing so could reveal new physics
that would show our vacuum is stable and strangelets can’t exist and everything is A-OK. Or maybe vacuum decay already started in some
other part of the universe and it’s on it’s way here to kill us right now. We can’t know, what are you going to spend
your whole life worrying? So particle colliders won’t kill you, and
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dot com. Did you know there are over 30,000 particle
colliders in the world? Check out this video to find out what they
all do. Ironically the Vacuum Decay hypothesis actually
gained some traction because of findings from the Large Hadron Collider. Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss
an episode of Seeker.


  • Mcchuggernaut

    Considering things like colliding black holes and neutron stars, gamma ray bursts, hyper novae and other space phenomena routinely produce effects greater than any particle accelerator we could ever hope to build could ever achieve, I'm gonna' call this one solved and safe. If minute super-high-speed high-energy particle collisions were capable of causing planet-killing or other nasty anomalous/spacetime warping events, we would already know about it. Or not know, as we probably wouldn't exist at all if physics worked that way.

  • forestsoceansmusic

    Excellent — some Reason versus the hysteria of all "the sky is falling!" Chicken Littles. Best point: the cosmic rays in space (many of which reach down into our atmosphere) have far more energy than our biggest particle accelerator (I'm guessing than ALL our particle accelerators). People forget not only how puny we are, but even how puny the entire world is, compared to even our average-sized Sun. The biggest threat is still our Nuclear Arsenals and our runaway population increase — these things can easily destroy the thin biofilm surrounding the Earth (from the deepest oceans to the highest atmosphere, it's an incredibly thin layer compared to the size of the Earth, and our metabolism has narrow thermal & oxygen-level limits which it needs to survive.

  • Sadad Gabbarsing

    Vacuum decay is near its just a street far from me where to go now. And that street is just a 100million light years away.

  • forestsoceansmusic

    c. 1:00 to 1:07 in — the fact that 'strangelets' could theoretically convert all mass on Earth to have their type of quarks and "shrink the Earth down to a 100m size ball" is some cause for concern. If that happened, if something as fundamental as all the quarks were changed, would we notice it? (All our rulers would shrink too, EVERYTHING would shrink by the same amount yes?–)– What would it look like on such a strangelet-quarks Earth? Maybe only small differences as noticed in the Mandela Effect? Please enlighten me with patient reasoned logic if this is not possible.

  • forestsoceansmusic

    Something else just occurred to me today about your saying 'if the Earth collapsed into a Black Hole, it would be a LOT smaller but the Moon would still orbit it (NOT get sucked in) because the Earth would still have the same mass.' First of all, the escape velocity of any object is determined by its mass. Secondly, the Earth's escape velocity is about 7 miles per second. Thirdly, Black Holes are such humungously- massive objects, that their escape velocity is faster than the speed of light. So the minimum mass of a Black Hole is an ABSOLUTE. SO THERE IS NO WAY YOU COULD HAVE 'MINI' OR EVEN 'EARTH-SIZED' BLACK HOLES. Mainstream theoretical physics is making up too many fanciful theories — probably as a way to get media attention to get more funding.
    "If geometrical axioms affected human interests, attempts would certainly be made to disprove them." — Lenin.

  • Larry Scott

    At the end of an interesting video is appropriate time to give your sales pitch. Easily identifies the end of the video.

    Take a page from Paul Harvey’s play book. Tty nesting the product placement throughout the content in small bits.

  • Dusko P

    why not accelerate two black holes places opposite to each other to the near-light-speed? this black holes would gain mass- and if the whole system is in motion before the acceleration- we could travel through it!?

  • otavio florentino

    leakage of information in Brazil on a phone call listened to this conversation
    …. but general move in time and pure question of rapid acceleration and concetrar a large number of energy in an extremely small area but gave an erratica we lost the point and we do not know where the two were in the timeless displacement and also there was a great leakage of alpha radiation at the moment of the displacement they reached a speed of up to 95% of the speed of light and no more contact in any of the apparatuses disappeared as by charm and as if they had never existed we almost damaged the sirius and we escaped of a great monumental explosion.

  • Matthew Spencer

    The logic of "it hasn't winked out reality so far, so that's not a thing" doesn't necessary work for quantum phenomena.

    If many worlds is true then from the perspective of Schrodinger cat the quantum trigger doesn't ever release the poison (because the cat would always survive in some branches, and those are the only ones where the cat still exists to experience anything). No matter how insanely likely the trigger's probability is.

    If many worlds is true, we are just experiencing branches of reality were vacuum decay hasn't been triggered… no matter how likely particle accelerators or cosmic particles are to cause vacuum decay.

  • John Thwaits

    "Could a particle accelerator destroy earth? ..Of course not you imbecile.. now it is time for us to throw our heads back and laugh! Hahahahahhahahaha!"

  • Art of war and peace

    Short answer is yes. Look at the sun spots. Chryst within earth be married to Chryst within our only beggotten sun.

  • rambokhooblall

    Only God can destroy Earth. Fool. Lava can destroy earth. Create something as powerful as lava, then talk about destroying Earth.

  • D Man

    What if wind turbines are twisting space time ? What if countries start to sink in empty oil and gas wells ? What if a giant meteor hits the moon ? What if our brains are quantum entangled in the past and future ? What if cern shifts the poles of earth with super strong magnets causing volcanos and Tsunamis ?


    I was..13?14? when the LHC was first started and my grandparents panicked a bit as it went live saying ihey head it would become a black hole or something. Now, at that age i didnt really had internet (neither do they) but was curious and apparently full of common sense, because i laughed at them and said that wasnt goign to happen.
    Obviously, nothing happened, and they in a way, never forgave me for that lol


    Also, Seeker. could you make a video explainging why dont we create tiny black holes to study them better than we could on space (as they are so far away)?

  • Banter Maestro2

    The energies reached by man-made particle accelerators are child's play compared to energies seen in cosmic rays. They've raining down on Earth for as long as there has been an Earth and, last rime I checked, we're still here.

  • r8them 8

    A decade from now
    “Man this is the worst birthday ever.”
    “Why because we’ve accidentally created a blackhole by accident that’s bound to destroy all of humanity?”

  • Nachito

    Wait, but wouldnt a black hole that evaporates in 10 to the negative of 23 seconds, release such amount of energy all at once, doing more damage than any bomb that humanity has created?

  • P Blake

    The Earth Will never be destroyed..Human Governments will be destroyed.. Jehovah will return the earth to its original purpose A Garden Of Eden made for all mankind…No more Human Rule but Heavenly Rule!! Read and apply the Word (bible) stop being ignorant fools!!!

  • T3hChaerlz

    Build it in space, and attach a shield to it to block bad sun rays. Ion thrusters could keep in place, and with the advancements in batteries, solar, ion thrusters, and ways to block certain if rays, this could be easily possible with a bunch of inexpensive falcon heavy launches. Seems easily doable now. It could self sustain and tBuild it in space, and attach a shield to it to block bad sun rays. Ion thrusters could keep in place, and with the advancements in batteries, solar, ion thrusters, and ways to block certain if rays, this could be easily possible with a bunch of inexpensive falcon heavy launches. Seems easily doable now. It could self sustain and, the accelerator would be as big as the earth. Not giving it a secondary shield capability would be stupid..

  • Sa Labs

    What about 3 light accelerators coming in contact with each other making each other go faster and faster and faster every time they come in contact with each other???

  • Panthera

    Nothing could go wrong, right? With people always overdoing or underdoing something, sparing resources and making things not as safe as they should be, making leaks and explosions all over the world, hiding truth and blaming someone else, being corrupt all over the world…. Nothing to worry about, right?
    Look at an Apple logo… Now imagine that Europe is on the right side of the Globe, somewhere North East, and Cern explodes or gets "eaten away" or bitten off in Swiss area, leaving a dent of a few thousand kilometers.. . Now, remember Eve and Adam biting a forbidden apple and being thrown out of the paradise… Bite an apple, get thrown off the planet with an explosion or a deplosion. Genesis book speaks something about universe's formation and science found recently something similar… So, back to Cern coliders and Apple's logo….. Does Apple logo look more like a real warning or something? OOPS and everything is gone… Just like that… And then what?

    Want energy, see and copy over the pages while they are still there with something like SAVE AS PDF addon.

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