Apr 9, 2012

LHC-Critique Press Info: Instead of a neutral risk assessment of the LHC: New records and plans for costly upgrades at CERN

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cosmology, engineering, ethics, existential risks, futurism, media & arts, nuclear energy, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space, sustainability

High energy experiments like the LHC at the nuclear research centre CERN are extreme energy consumers (needing the power of a nuclear plant). Their construction is extremely costly (presently 7 Billion Euros) and practical benefits are not in sight. The experiments eventually pose existential risks and these risks have not been properly investigated.

It is not the first time that CERN announces record energies and news around April 1 – apparently hoping that some critique and concerns about the risks could be misinterpreted as an April joke. Additionally CERN regularly starts up the LHC at Easter celebrations and just before week ends, when news offices are empty and people prefer to have peaceful days with their friends and families.

CERN has just announced new records in collision energies at the LHC. And instead of conducting a neutral risk assessment, the nuclear research centre plans costly upgrades of its Big Bang machine. Facing an LHC upgrade in 2013 for up to CHF 1 Billion and the perspective of a Mega-LHC in 2022: How long will it take until risk researchers are finally integrated in a neutral safety assessment?

There are countless evidences for the necessity of an external and multidisciplinary safety assessment of the LHC. According to a pre-study in risk research, CERN fits less than a fifth of the criteria for a modern risk assessment (see the press release below). It is not acceptable that the clueless member states point at the operator CERN itself, while this regards its self-set security measures as sufficient, in spite of critique from risk researchers, continuous debates and the publication of further papers pointing at concrete dangers and even existential risks (black holes, strangelets) eventually arising from the experiments sooner or later. Presently science has to admit that the risk is disputed and basically unknown.

It will not be possible to keep up this ostrich policy much longer. Especially facing the planned upgrades of the LHC, CERN will be confronted with increasing critique from scientific and civil side that the most powerful particle collider has yet not been challenged in a neutral and multidisciplinary safety assessment. CERN has yet not answered to pragmatic proposals for such a process that also should constructively involve critics and CERN. Also further legal steps from different sides are possible.

The member states that are financing the CERN budget, the UN or private funds are addressed to provide resources to finally initiate a neutral and multidisciplinary risk assessment.

German version of this article published in Oekonews:

Related LHC-Critique press release and open letter to CERN:…hc-upgrade

Typical physicist’s April joke on stable black holes at the LHC (April 1 2012, German):…rzeugt.php

Latest publications of studies demonstrating risks arising from the LHC experiment:

Prof Otto E. Rössler:

Thomas Kerwick B.Tech. M.Eng. Ph.D.:

Brief summary of the basic problem by LHC-Kritik (still valid since Sep. 2008):…ry-908.pdf

Detailed summary of the scientific LHC risk discussion by LHC-Kritik and ConCERNed International:…ed-int.pdf

We wish you happy Easter and hope for your support of our pragmatic proposals to urgently increase safety in these new fields of nuclear physics.

LHC Critique / LHC Kritik — Network for Safety at nuclear and sub-nuclear high energy Experiments.

[email protected]

Tel.: +43 650 629 627 5

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Comments — comments are now closed.

  1. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear people
    The paper of Thomas Kerwick “…This equates to a lower bound of approx. 2,800 years over which a similar traversal distance could accumulate due to sub-Keplerian MBH produced at the LHC as has already occurred naturally over the lifetime of the Earth. …” already shows the possible impact of the LHC experiments. But one should consider that probably no natural micro black hole has been entrapped by gravity on astronomical bodies in the entire solar system (or even in a much larger volume) since its existence, because natural MBHs are too fast. Natural collisions and the experimental collisions are very different. Nature has not conducted any LHC-experiments on Earth yet. So I wonder much why CERNs safety group LSAG seems to suggest the contrary in the safety report.
    Good luck and best regards to all.

  2. Tom Kerwick says:

    Hi Niccolo — yes it would be LSAG postion that no such natural micro black holes have been entrapped by gravity on Earth or any other astronomical bodies in our solar system — and the flux figure I quote assumes this. This is why the LSAG consideration of White Dwarfs and Neutron Stars is important on the subject of MBH accretion.

    See the discussion on the thread started by Otto on White Dwarfs recenty, and also one I started on The Neutron Star Paradox recently also.

  3. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear Tom

    Ok, now I have read both blog themes and I understand the very most. Some interesting points there.

    You say that “it would be LSAG position that no such natural micro black holes have been entrapped by gravity on Earth or any other astronomical bodies in our solar system”.

    My opinion is that a safety report which handles the worst conceivable damage (in the case of a catastrophe) ever discussed, should be neutral and honest as possible, rather than suggestive.

    Therefore I do not understand why a handful of scientists of CERN tell about 15 times in the LSAG report, that collisions equal to those at the LHC would happen all the time on Earth.
    For example they have suggested four times just on page 4 that LHC-collisions would happen all the time in nature (sorry it‘s a bit long):

    1.) “…This means that Nature has already conducted the equivalent of about a hundred thousand LHC experimental programs on Earth, and the planet still exists.“
    2.) “…and Nature has therefore already conducted the LHC experimental programs about one billion times via the collisions of cosmic rays with the Sun, and the Sun still exists.“
    3.) “Moreover, our Milky Way galaxy contains about 1011 stars with sizes similar to our Sun, and there are about 1011 similar galaxies in the visible Universe. Cosmic rays have been hitting all these stars at rates similar to collisions with our own Sun. This means that Nature has already completed about 1031 LHC experimental programs since the beginning of the Universe.“
    4.) “Moreover, each second, the Universe continues to repeat about 3 × 1013 complete LHC experiments.”

    And then (still on page 4) they conclude: “There is no indication that any of these previous ‘LHC experiments’ has ever had any large-scale consequences.”

    I strongly feel that it leads to a wrong impression, because one has to be involved in the theme, to see the differences between the artificial collisions and those of nature.

    So if you think that it would be the position of LSAG, that probably no micro black hole has been slow enough to be entrapped on astronomical bodies in the entire solar system (since its existence) or even in a much larger volume, then why they do not tell it?

    It is surely a great idea, to handle white dwarfs and neutron stars, because it seems to be the last not properly handled safety argument regarding stable micro black holes but I would say (partly as a joke): These things are very far away and nobody has ever seen them yet…

    Thanks for reading and for your great work.

    Best regards, Niccolò

  4. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear readers
    I forgot to ask: Can somebody show me a real photo of a neutron star?
    If we have a spectrum analysis of a hypothetical neutron star, then how would it show us a proof, that it really IS a neutron star? Someone?
    Thank you.

  5. eq says:

    Ok, this the ultimate killer argument, Mr Tottoli. If there is nothing like a neutron star in the universe, why should there be something like a even “more collapsed star”, the black hole?

  6. Tom Kerwick says:

    Hi Nicollo — I would have to agree that from the comments you quoted, the use of the word ‘equivalent’ in nature on Earth is misleading, as they are clearly not always equivalent as regards non-relativistic speed of collision products. However, LSAG has always debated that one has to look to white dwarfs and neutron stars to find scenarios which can result in such hypothetical stable MBH under gravity capture as could be produced in the LHC. Incidentally, here is a photo of our nearest white dwarf —…00x450.jpg

    As regards photographic evidence of neutron stars, I don’t believe this is achievable and detection of such stars to date are always by alternative signatures. In any case I would have to abide by eq’s comment that it would be hard to dispute the existance of neutron stars and still debate black holes due to even greater collapse. Both are widely accepted and do not need to be questioned…

  7. LHC Kritik says:

    Very brief summary for the reader: Concerning black holes at the LHC the mainstream safety argument goes like this: 1.: If micro black holes are produced, they will probably decay because of “Hawking radiation”. “Hawking radiation” is a pure hypothesis though. Next step: 2.’. “Cosmic ray argument”: “Nature conducts LHC experiments all the time.” This comparability is also very doubtful though because: 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 (taken the figures of the safety argument for granted), 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. 3.: So, leaving also the cosmic ray argument aside, meanwhile POORLY UNDERSTOOD neutron stars and white dwarfs should guarantee for collider safety…

    Consequently: The particle collider safety question is a highly complex issue that must involve independent scientists apart from connections to CERN and others than physicists only. For example: Risk researchers. (!!!)

  8. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear EQ, dear Tom, dear LHC Kritik
    EQ, you say: “If there is nothing like a neutron star in the universe, why should there be something like a even “more collapsed star”, the black hole?“
    How can we know, whether it is a neutron star or a strange star or something else, I mean how can we know the number of neutron stars, their life time and how can we exclude that it is not some sort of “exotic collapsed white dwarf” or similar? Any proof?
    Tom, thanks for the link!
    Thanks to all.
    Best regards, Niccolò

  9. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear EQ
    Here are some questions also:…ent-105836
    Best regards, Niccolò

  10. LHC Kritik says:

    In other words: The safety arguments are built on constructions with many uncertainties. (As also stated in ‘neutral’ articles, it is quite bizarre to refer to poorly understood extreme objects like neutron stars and white dwarfs as a final particle collider safety argument.)

  11. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    Dear LHC Kritik
    Yes, it seems to me too and I wondered that I have not got an answer to my questions, though my intention was not to show a “killer argument” but only to be aware of all possibilities, which would be important for catastrophic risks. Mostly neutron stars but for some reasons perhaps white dwarfs too, seem to be not a sound basis to guarantee the safety of the experiments.
    Thank you.
    Best regards, Niccolò

  12. Niccolò Tottoli says:

    I ask myself whether one would see a difference between the spectrum of a neutron star and a strange star.
    There are many puzzling things in the universe. Even in the near universe or in our solar system or even on Earth. The universe is full of objects and some exotics could be there. Many gamma ray sources are not yet analyzed. There are unsolved questions of light phenomena.
    It is not completely clear why there is so much heat inside Earth. The measurements are still incomplete and exotic energy sources can not be entirely ruled out. The energy balance of Jupiter is not entirely clear and the thermal energy in Enceladus (a moon of Saturn), which does produce ice fountains is puzzling. So many unsolved questions — ask an astronomer. Best wishes to all.