Safety Of Particle Collisions At The Large Hadron Collider
The safety of high energy particle collisions was a topic of widespread discussion and topical interest during the time when the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and later the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—currently the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator—were being constructed and commissioned. Concerns arose that such high energy experiments—designed to produce novel particles and forms of matter—had the potential to create harmful states of matter or even doomsday scenarios. Claims escalated as commissioning of the LHC drew closer, around 2008–2010. The claimed dangers included the production of stable micro black holes and the creation of hypothetical particles called strangelets, and these questions were explored in the media, on the Internet and at times through the courts.
To address these concerns in the context of the LHC, CERN mandated a group of independent scientists to review these scenarios. In a report issued in 2003, they concluded that, like current particle experiments such as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), the LHC particle collisions pose no conceivable threat. A second review of the evidence commissioned by CERN was released in 2008. The report, prepared by a group of physicists affiliated to CERN but not involved in the LHC experiments, reaffirmed the safety of the LHC collisions in light of further research conducted since the 2003 assessment. It was reviewed and endorsed by a CERN committee of 20 external scientists and by the Executive Committee of the Division of Particles & Fields of the American Physical Society, and was later published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Physics G by the UK Institute of Physics, which also endorsed its conclusions.
The report ruled out any doomsday scenario at the LHC, noting that the physical conditions and collision events which exist in the LHC, RHIC and other experiments occur naturally and routinely in the universe without hazardous consequences, including ultra-high-energy cosmic rays observed to impact Earth with energies far higher than those in any man-made collider.
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