Feb 13, 2012

LHC-Critique PRESS RELEASE (Feb 13 2012): CERN plans Mega-particle collider. COMMUNICATION to CERN: For a neutral and multi-disciplinary risk assessment before any LHC upgrade

Posted by in categories: cosmology, engineering, ethics, existential risks, futurism, nuclear energy, particle physics, philosophy, physics, scientific freedom, space, sustainability, transparency

- CERN’s annual meeting to fix LHC schedules in Chamonix: Increasing energies. No external and multi-disciplinary risk assessment so far. Future plans targeting at costly LHC upgrade in 2013 and Mega-LHC in 2022.

- COMMUNICATION to CERN – For a neutral and multi-disciplinary risk assessment before any LHC upgrade

According to CERN’s Chamonix workshop (Feb. 6–10 2012) and a press release from today: In 2012 the collision energies of the world’s biggest particle collider LHC should be increased from 3.5 to 4 TeV per beam and the luminosity is planned to be increased by a factor of 3. This means much more particle collisions at higher energies.

CERN plans to shut down the LHC in 2013 for about 20 months to do a very costly upgrade (for CHF 1 Billion?) to run the LHC at double the present energies (7 TeV per beam) afterwards.

Future plans: A High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) is planned, “tentatively scheduled to start operating around 2022” — with a beam energy increased from 7 to 16.5 TeV(!):

One might really ask where this should lead to – sooner or later – without the risks being properly investigated. Many critics from different fields are severely alarmed.

For comparison: The AMS 2 experiment for directly measuring cosmic rays in the atmosphere operates on a scale around 1.5 TeV. Very high energetic cosmic rays have only been measured indirectly (their impulse). Sort, velocity, mass and origin of these particles are unknown. In any way, the number of collisions under the extreme and unprecedented artificial conditions at the LHC is of astronomical magnitudes higher than anywhere else in the nearer cosmos.

There were many talks on machine safety at the Chamonix meeting. The safety of humans and environment obviously were not an official topic. That’s why critics turned to CERN in an open letter:

Communication on LHC Safety directed to CERN

For a neutral and multidisciplinary risk assessment to be done before any LHC upgrade

Communiqué to CERN

Dear management and scientists at CERN,

Astronomer and Leonardo-publisher Roger Malina recently emphasized that the main problem in research is that “curiosity is not neutral”. And he concluded: “There are certain problems where we cannot cloister the scientific activity in the scientific world, and I think we really need to break the model. I wish CERN, when they had been discussing the risks, had done that in an open societal context, and not just within the CERN context.”

Video of Roger Malina’s presentation at Ars Electronica, following prominent philosopher and leading constructivist Humberto Maturana’s remarkable lecture on science and “certainy”:

In the eyes of many critics a number of questions related to LHC safety are not ruled out and some of them have concrete and severe concerns. Also the comparability of the cosmic ray argument is challenged.

Australian risk researcher and ethicist Mark Leggett concludes in a paper that CERN meets less than a fifth of the criteria of a modern risk assessment:…_1__09.pdf

Without getting into details of the LHC safety discussion – this article in the well-recognized Physics arXiv Blog (MIT’s Technology Review) states: “Black Holes, Safety, and the LHC Upgrade — If the LHC is to be upgraded, safety should be a central part of the plans.”

Similar to pragmatic critics, the author claims in his closing remarks: “What’s needed, of course, is for the safety of the LHC to be investigated by an independent team of scientists with a strong background in risk analysis but with no professional or financial links to CERN.”

The renowned Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) in Karlsruhe and other risk researchers have already signalized interest in cooperation. We think, in such a process, naturally also CERN and critics should be constructively involved.

Please act in favour of such a neutral and multi-disciplinary assessment, maybe already following the present Chamonix meeting. Even if you feel sure that there are no reasons for any concerns, this must be in your interest, while also being of scientific and public concern.

In the name of many others:
LHC-Kritik / LHC-Critique

Direct link to this Communication to CERN:
Also published in “oekonews”:

CERN press release from Feb 13 2012:

“Badly designed to understand the Universe — CERN’s LHC in critical Reflection by great Philosopher H. Maturana and Astrophysicist R. Malina”:…t-r-malina

“LHC-Kritik/LHC-Critique – Network for Safety at experimental sub-nuclear Reactors”, is a platform articulating the risks related to particle colliders and experimental high energy physics. LHC-Critique has conducted a number of detailed papers demonstrating the insufficiency of the present safety measures under well understandable perspectives and has still got a law suit pending at the European Court of Human Rights.

More info at LHC-Kritik / LHC-Critique:
[email protected]
+43 650 629 627 5


Comments — comments are now closed.

  1. Warren R Sampson says:

    You are the same as JFK conspiracy wonks. You are the same as 911 Truthers. You are marginal people trying to become famous by promoting paranoia.

    You are pathetic.

  2. Warren R Sampson says:

    Sorry. Should have been more specific about why you are pathetic.

    You are pathetic because you are liars who stir paranoia using phoney technical babble. You know it’s false, but you print it because you know that a certain number of frightened people will read it and believe it.

    And you steal money using your lies.

  3. LHC Kritik says:

    Mr. Sampson, please be reminded that comments including unreasonable accusations can be deleted any time. This one will be left in for the moment because it quite typically demonstrates a certain posting strategy LHC critics are frequently confronted with: Even in your second post you don’t give a single point why you are not contented with the article or what should be false in your eyes (probably you are just ‘feeling’ safe with any high energy physics). LHC-Critics are also not contented with the issues raised in the article. But you can easily prove them by following the links provided. Here is another CERN link on the planned “HL-LHC”:

    For more details on the LHC risk debate, we recommend the following summarizing paper:…ed-int.pdf

    P.S.: Your last point is not true for two reasons. Rather this critical work would urgently need some fundraising.

  4. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    If something is thought to be false then it should be specified.

  5. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    What is more honorable — to get money from the taxpayers (who have not been asked) or from the donors?

  6. Warren R Sampson says:

    Delete away my good fellow.

  7. Warren R Sampson says:

    Nope. The strategy of conspiracist is to tangle us all in long explanations.

    What is honorable is to use the power of the scientific method to clearly report risks and benefits of certain experiments to the public.

    In my career, I have been responsible for condensing complex technical issues into terms that reasonably educated people can understand.

    Your technical language is intentionally complex. You are baffling with bullshit. Your blogs remind me of nothing else but the knowing deception of Fetzer et. al. Google him. You’d have a blast over drinks.

    Delete me. I don’t care. It won’t matter anyway, right. We’ll all be vaporized when the LHC goes to…what…3.5, 3.825, 6.2.…Tev? Oh.…can’t decide on a number? Well that might be because you have no clue what any of this means.

    So.…delete me! Yup. Forget me. Yup. No memories will be in your mind. Yup. Cash the check.

  8. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear Mr. Sampson
    Here: “In 2012 the collision energies of the world’s biggest particle collider LHC should be increased from 3.5 to 4 TeV per beam and the luminosity is planned to be increased by a factor of 3.” Is something unclear?
    Sincerely yours, N. Tottoli

  9. bill johnson says:

    Mr. Niccolo Tottoli,

    Sampson is not confused about what TeV or luminosity the LHC is shifting to, rather when he listed different TeV levels he was asking which would be needed to cause any of the catastrophic consequences that are being predicted. This is a valid question because the likelihood of disaster should increase with greater energies and luminosity.

    So what would the revised probability of a black hole forming look like with this new increase of TeV and luminosity taken into consideration?

  10. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear Mr. Johnson
    @“This is a valid question because the likelihood of disaster should increase with greater energies and luminosity.“
    You are right. I have misunderstood Mr. Sampson.
    Here is it:…o-anthonyl
    My comment there: “Niccolò Tottoli on January 22, 2012 10:49 am
    Dear all
    If the fundamental Planck scale is of order a TeV, as the case in some extradimensions scenarios, future hadron colliders such as the Large Hadron Collider will be black hole factories. (High Energy Colliders as Black Hole Factories, Steven B. Giddings and Scott Thomas, 2002).
    This paper predicts Hawking radiation but other papers of various physicists do tell the contrary or let it open. For example “Black hole state evolution and Hawking radiation” (D. Ahn) or “Do black holes radiate” (Adam D. Helfer) or “On the Universality of the Hawking Effect” (William G. Unruh, Ralf Schützhold).
    Sincerely yours, Niccolò Tottoli“
    So the risk of black hole formation probably depends on the Planck scale. The increased luminosity and risk increase because of it is an other point. The best would be to ask CERN. They should make a quantitative calculation of the risk and tell a number.
    Thank you.

  11. LHC Kritik says:

    Mr Sampson, your comments will not be deleted, although there is still no concrete argument of yours against any point in the release above. We have seen this many times in the discussion. It seems that you are not contented with the way this brief info is set up, basically because it is critical – and because you are feeling safe with the experiments. If the info appears too brief to you, a link to a detailed paper is provided above. LHC Kritik is merely nor earning money with articles and papers. Rather we would need a sponsor for our critical work.

    Dear Mr Johnson, it seems clear that “the likelihood of disaster should increase with greater energies and luminosity.” There has been a study on the probability of existential risks concerning the RHIC accelerator. This study was corrected by the “Future of Humanity Institute” of Oxford, still showing a quite low risk but of many magnitudes higher than before. More was not done… The problem is: Concrete calculations on existential risk probabilities do not exist concerning the LHC (being much more powerful than the RHIC) or any LHC upgrade. Another problem is that there could be a threshold where dangerous particles / matter could suddenly be produced, with no indications before. Our first main point is that the risks must be further investigated — by an external and multi-disciplinary board.

  12. Tom Kerwick says:

    Mr Sampson, regarding the allegation of ‘phoney technical babble’ to ‘tangle us all in long explanations’ directed at LHC Kritik, allow me to condense what you see as a complex technical issue into terms that you can understand: Whilst MBH are widely anticipated in these experiments — HR is both unproven and disputed, and accretion rates of stable MBH have not been discussed sufficiently by the scientific method you adhere to. In this context a conference to discuss the issues further is desirable. Throwing profanities at people you disagree does nothing for your side of the debate.

  13. bill johnson says:

    LHC Kritik and Mr. Tottoli,

    Thank you for your responses.

    I think the point is that in the interest of having accountability for critics of the LHC we need to know at least a rough estimate of the risk level that critics assign to different energy levels and luminosity at the LHC. This is important so that we know what exactly is being predicted. So while completely concrete numbers may not be possible an estimate is needed.
    On this blog Mr. Rossler has provided that information and said that “at the current 7 TeV [collisions], we have a probability of between 4 and 8 percent that the deadliest virus of the universe (a black hole) settles inside earth to devour it in a few years’ time.” I wonder if you would agree with that estimate and if you would modify it at all given the increase to 8 TeV (collisions)

  14. Tom Kerwick says:

    Bill — instead of setting this into a betting forum — it probably serves better to divide out the contributory factors – For example, taking the MBH risks, the first question is at what TeV level will MBH be created, the second is at what rate will MBH be created as TeV levels are increased once this threshold is reached, and this of course will depend on the rate of collisions. If these figures can be produced then we can start discussing risk. I believe in the past the 5 TeV threshold was set as when MBH might be produced, whilst I recall rates of 1 MBH per second being cited before based on desired rates of collision — estimates not from critic circles of course, but official ones. However, I do not know if this is the latest official position on the subject. Anyone?

    To take your question further — then one has to consider MBH decay/accretion/aggregation rates and calculations here vary incredibly from billions of years to just a few years. I have yet to see any paper apply distribution curves to stable MBH growth convincingly – from either CERN or critics, so the subject is not researched sufficiently IMHO — by anyone — albeit research that would be irrelevant if MBH are proved harmless by HR. Hence a safety conference needed and not a wild guessing game.

  15. LHC Kritik says:

    Dear Mr Johnson,

    this is of course a sensitive question on difficult estimations but let me try to address it. To start with the hard facts: Only very few papers do exist addressing the quantification of particle collider risks. As already indicated above, for example in 1999 a study done by well known physicists (Dar, De Rujula et al) on the probabilities of existential risks related to the RHIC collider estimated that these would be 2 × 10^−9 [2 × 10 to the power of −9] per year of RHIC operation. This sounded “sufficiently assuring” to physicists. This study was later criticized by A. Kent and also in a study by the “Future of Humanity Institute” which is specialised in existential risks, because of too narrow viewpoints. One argument goes like this: “[…] the paper needs around 30 steps to reach its conclusion. For example, even if there was just a 10^−4 chance of a calculation or modelling error per step this would […] easily overshadow the risk estimate. Indeed, even if just one step had a 10^−4 chance of error, this would overshadow the estimate.” (p 11)

    In the following few pages, the paper demonstrates with other arguments how relatively easy it is to revise a chance of 10^−9 to an extremely conservative and preliminary 10^−6 chance just by adding some parameters that were not taken into account. Referring to the LSAG safety report on the LHC the study concludes: “While the arguments for the safety of the LHC are commendable for their thoroughness, they are not infallible. Although the report considered several possible physical theories, it is eminently possible that these are all inadequate representations of the underlying physical reality. It is also possible that the models of processes in the LHC or the astronomical processes appealed to in the cosmic ray argument are flawed in an important way. Finally, it is possible that there is a calculation error in the report. […] However, our analysis implies that the current safety report should not be the final word in the safety assessment of the LHC. Such work would require expertise beyond theoretical physics, and an interdisciplinary group would be essential.”

    By the way, one of the authors of this study, Toby Ord, was quoted to have estimated at the Global Catastrophic Risk conference a 1 in 1,000 chance that CERN’s safety assumptions may be fundamentally wrong. After some news reports on this Ord said that the quotation from CERN’s Mangano would give a misleading impression of his actual estimates and his overall estimate of disaster from switching on the LHC would be between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 1,000,000. (It is just a factor 10 step back from 1,000 to 10,000.)

    However, this demonstrates that a single 18 page study can totally smash previous quantifications of existential risks in a very new field. Apparently no newer studies on probabilities have been made related to collider risks since 2008. Would a new study again change the estimates from 10^−6 or 10^−4 to 10^−3 or 10^−1, or higher?

    The first question is: Is the risk extremely far below 1% or not. Another question is: How sure can we be about that? Further: How important are these experiments? Let us be challenging: Question 1: Maybe not. 2: Not so sure, in any way. 3: Not urgently needed.

    Now: From a sceptic’s point of view, it is easily possible that the theories used in favour of collider safety are “all inadequate representations of the underlying physical reality”. CERN itself mentions that the “LHC could break the standard model of particle physics”. We should also be aware that the comparability of cosmic rays and LHC collisions could be “flawed in an important way”. Finally think about how easy calculation errors can occur and nobody even recognizes it. So, from a sceptical viewpoint ALL of the weak points stressed in the Oxford study in a rather conservative way are indeed of a quite high probability at the end. Taking this into account, the risk under present circumstances is absolutely not acceptable.

    Don’t forget that we were first talking about the RHIC collider which is much less powerful than the LHC and then about the LHC which is much less powerful than his planned upgrades up to the “High Luminosity LHC”.

    Incidentally, pioneer of chaos theory Prof Otto E Roessler says that turning on the LHC is directly comparable to Russian roulette and gave a 1:6 estimate. Well known critic Walter Wagner once said that he simply would not know if a disaster would either happen or not and – maybe not without some irony – concluded with a 50:50 chance. Both of them developed concrete theories and don’t regard them as disproven.

    However, there were no concrete disaster scenarios and the discourse on them mentioned in this comment on risk quantifications. To lead back to the question on estimations: Regarding all the uncertainties involved and after some years of occupation with the issue, many pragmatic critics of the LHC experiment estimate that the existential risk of the present LHC run could maybe NOT be far below 1%. And there are severe concerns of the LHC operating at double the energies in around two years’ time – still without any external and multi-disciplinary risk evaluation. Clearly the “vision” of an “HL-LHC” operating at five times the present energies has not yet reached the closer risk debate. Probably many sceptics spontaneously would give estimations distinctly exceeding a single digit chance if such a machine would be turned on right now.

    Sad but true: Under socio-psychological or philosophical viewpoints, it is easily possible that an intelligent civilization wipes itself out with continuous “big bang experiments” — conducted just to find out how small the smallest particle might be.

    The main comparison is: The new AMS 2 experiment at the ISS can observe natural particle collisions (fixed target) at an energy level of 2 TeV. The LHC already operated at 3.5 TeV (per beam, no fixed target) and is planned to operate at 7 TeV per beam after the Billion Francs update in 2013. The planned HL-LHC should operate at 16.5 TeV in 2022. It is just too obvious that an external and multi-disciplinary board must investigate the risks before ANY upgrade, in cooperation with CERN and the critics. The authors of the Oxford study cited above for example suggest the US model of a blue and a read team to scientifically compete with pro and con safety arguments. Would this be worth it? No?

  16. William Kilgore says:

    “Both of them … don’t regard them as disproven.”

    That’s the problem […] But it’s your problem.

  17. LHC Kritik says:

    Misleading argument “WK”. This post is explicitly not discussing theories of specific dangers but probability studies.

  18. bill johnson says:

    Mr. Kerwick and LHC Kritik
    Thank you both for your replies.
    Just to clarify, the bottom line for both of you was that there is not sufficient information to provide an accurate assessment of the probability of the LHC leading to any of the proposed disaster scenarios and thus there is a need for the safety conference. Is that accurate?
    If that is the case would I then be correct in assuming that you don’t accept Mr. Rossler’s estimate that, “we have a probability of between 4 and 8 percent that the deadliest virus of the universe (a black hole) settles inside earth to devour it in a few years’ time.”, but rather you would say that more study would be needed before such a prediction could be made.
    This interests me because there seems to be two different arguments here,
    The first states that the risk is known and thus the LHC must be shut off until the known risk is disproven
    The second argues that the potential risk is there and we don’t know how great that risk is, and so the LHC should be shut off until a safety conference can take place to better determine what the risk level is.
    In this case the two arguments would have very similar goals but both the second argument, and CERN would agree that the first argument is claiming more certainty in their predictions then is warranted by the current information available to us.

  19. LHC Kritik says:

    Agreement so far dear Mr Johnson: The aim of the “LHC Kritik” network was never to favor a specific theory predicting dangers. In the same way LHC Kritik does not openly support a specific risk estimation of any author of such a theory.
    Secondly, maybe not completely following your last conclusion: There are a number of theories predicting dangers. Then the question is how likely are these theories, or how likely is it that the experiments would trigger these dangers. The probability studies described above rather came from the other way around and not from the concrete discussion on such theories. This means, they wanted to prove how watertight the safety arguments are that probably nothing could go wrong. To conclude: “The current information available to us” is not very assuring.

  20. Tom Kerwick says:

    Mr Johnson — yes your summation is quite accurate, though splitting semantics one could say that sufficient information is there to make a more accurate assessment if more minds were put together at a safety conference to discuss the various aspects… and there is a third catagory that concludes a safety conference is warranted in parallel with the experiments… as general consensus among academics (ie not specifically critics) is that the concern is perhaps too low to warrant interruption, though the conference should be held as a matter of due dilligence. The problem is at present that CERN seem unwilling to partake in this due dilligence.

  21. bill johnson says:

    Mr Kerwick,

    Thanks for bringing up the third category, I was only looking at those who wanted to halt operations at the LHC but in terms of those who support a safety conference there are three groups. I fall into the third group and support a safety conference as a matter of as a matter of due diligence and I think that such a conference could be held as the experiments continue.

    In terms of having CERN participate in a new safety conference I think the biggest impediment thus far is the fact that the most vocal people calling for a safety conference have tried to get the LHC shut down, to include taking court actions against CERN. CERN isn’t going to want to go out of their way to accommodate people who are trying to shut their largest operation down.

  22. bill johnson says:

    LHCKritik thanks for clarifying the position that your network takes. My last point was simply trying the clarify the position that you would take on specific risk estimations and you addressed that in your last post.

  23. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear all
    An adequate risk research and an open safety conference between all parties is required, to solve a problem with such a huge worst case scenario.
    Please see my comments here too:…t-mega-lhc
    Thank you very much.

  24. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear CERN, dear all

    The world cannot be blown up because of a car accident. Perhaps someone says that a very small probability could exist due to the butterfly effect or similar theories — but it should be clear that the probability is much smaller than in the case of dealing with new sub-nuclear physics experiments. Thus, various risks have different worst case scenarios.
    Experiments with an apocalyptic worst case scenario should have mathematical risk calculations (quantitative and qualitative) for the entire risk and for each discussed risk and model. A catastrophic risk analysis should be based on the standards of catastrophic risk research. The level of standards and the extent of the safety assessment should be in direct proportion to the worst case damage factor, especially if theories of risks could change. All these requirements are obviously not fulfilled in the LSAG safety report.
    There are some mathematical calculations regarding the risks in the references or in references of references of the LSAG report but there is an absolute lack of it in the report itself.

    Various physics theories do contradict each other. Sometimes truth changes to the untruth and untruth may change to something true again. Examples are Hawking radiation or the speed of light.
    Reality was not as previously expected in different cases. Some examples are the “RHIC fireball” (energies higher than expected), dangerous radiation at the LHC (more than expected), neutrinos (faster than expected).
    The LSAG safety report of CERN is mostly based on the (for various reasons) flawed cr-argument and on Einstein‘s theory of relativity. Regarding the catastrophic risk of micro black holes, one of the main safety arguments was Hawking radiation. But opinions have been changed and therefore HR is not anymore on the public safety page of CERN.

    The safety assessment should be continuous, openly and all views and scientists with (to some extent) reasonable arguments should be taken into account because of possible theory changes.

    Many arguments, papers and lists with numerous risks have been sent to CERN but only a few have been answered – often just in private messages by a single scientist. That should be changed. I repeat that the LSAG safety report of CERN seems to me like partly a defensive selection of denied risks, rather than a complete assessment of (re)searched risks and possibilities. It seems that some risks have even not been considered yet. The critics are able to provide CERN with a list of arguments or publications, perhaps not yet (or not properly) considered risk theories and scientific contacts.

    Thanks for reading.

  25. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Revisions: (Niccolò Tottoli on February 18, 2012 5:33 am)
    - 2nd paragraph, end of 2nd line. Not “or the speed of light” but “or that nothing would be faster than light”.
    - Last word of my comment: Not “…contacts.” but “…contacts, for an open safety conference with CERN and the scientists referring to risks.”

  26. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    “A lot of the problems we face are essentially man-made, so naturally as human beings we should also be able to reduce them. Natural disasters, of course, are in a different category, but according to environmental scientists even they may owe something to human behaviour. Therefore, if we are optimistic, take a longer view, and we employ realistic methods, we can contribute to making the world a better place.” (Tendzin Gyatsho, the 14. Dalai Lama on facebook).…4125332616