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Nov 11, 2011

Eminent physicists who dismiss LHC conspiracy theories — 2

Posted by in category: physics

I thought I would offer a series of quotes to counter the codswallop frequently expressed here — suggesting that mainstream physicists have genuine concerns about the safety of the LHC.

“To think that LHC particle collisions at high energies can lead to dangerous black holes is rubbish. Such rumors were spread by unqualified people seeking sensation or publicity.

Academician Vitaly Ginzburg, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Lebedev Institute, Moscow, and Russian Academy of Sciences

(from http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/lhc/safety-en.html).


Steve Nerlich (Space Settlement Board member and Death-by-LHC skeptic)

20

Comments — comments are now closed.

  • Joscha Bach on November 12, 2011 5:11 am

    That one might be beside the point. While I do not share the worries about the LHC at all, repeating ad-hominem attacks is uncalled for; I don’t think that the LHC scare is motivated by sensation and publicity.

    Eventually, it comes down to a simple scientific question: If you do not think that small black holes evaporate more quickly than they accumulate mass, you will probably be concerned. The relative eminence of the different involved personalities is NOT something we should be concerned about: science is no popularity contest.

  • Steve Nerlich on November 12, 2011 12:07 pm

    Thanks Joscha — this is not a post questioning any theoretical physics claim, but countering the oft-made-allegation that eminent physicists have serious concerns bla, bla (like it says).

    I would have thought an ad hominem required mentioning someone’s name or a group affiliation (e.g. all CERN scientists are…). You’ll never see anything like that on this blog. No sir.

  • AnthonyL on November 12, 2011 1:25 pm

    Steve you are incorrigible. Now you are reduced to quoting from CERN publicity material. Have you even read its safety reports? Do you even have the capacity to do so? Does your thinking consist of automatically swallowing and endorsing what the most eminent physicists say they think in public? Do you have any access at all to actual physicists who work at CERN, or some that dont, so that you can find out what they think unofficially?

    Here is a nice addition to myour collection, from slightly lower down on the same CERN page:

    ““The world will not come to an end when the LHC turns on. The LHC is absolutely safe. … Collisions releasing greater energy occur millions of times a day in the earth’s atmosphere and nothing terrible happens.”

    Prof. Steven Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge University”

    This shows you how up to date and well informed even the most eminent physicist on the planet is on even the simplest issue involving the LHC and its safety. If you know any physicists at all who are at CERN or anywhere else you will find that they will tell you why this is wrong, whether Hawking said it or not.

    Of course he has an excuse since it must be hard to keep up with the literature in his sad state, it must be said.

    But it is not a very good excuse, really.

    Sp what is your excuse, since we have told you repeatedly on this blog what the reasons are for conCERN, and apparently it has gone in one ear and whistled straight out the other?

    One suspects that you have been paid off by CERN in some way, so naughty you are in maintaining this debunked credulity .

    If you have, please inform us how and whether we can also apply for the same pay off. Clearly it is not worth contradicting the statements of eminent men, for even those such as yourself who have their feet firmly on the ground down under automatically assume they are reliable guides to the truth.

    You must thank you lucky stars you were not in the US and available for Bernie Madoff to scam. It is types like you that he found easy to separate from their life savings.

    And the best efforts of a thoroughly informed and reliable whistleblower had no effect for years.

  • Steve Nerlich on November 12, 2011 1:40 pm

    Darn it — I was going to use the Hawking quote next week.

    And really Anthony? You propose that CERN is paying me to write this stuff. Really?

  • AnthonyL on November 12, 2011 1:56 pm

    PS By the way, do you not agree that Adrian Kent of Cambridge and Eric Penrose are eminent enough for their view to count? You will find they have published quite a lot on their conCERN. What about Plaga?

    There are a handful of naysayers who have very good physics qualifications, who have felt it is sufficiently important to speak out. Are you deaf to their views, or have you read and rejected them?

  • Steve Nerlich on November 12, 2011 6:52 pm

    Gee I don’t know Anthony — would I be putting my CERN payments at risk if I read them?

    Anyhow, what about Hawking’s quote? You brought it up — do you reject his views?

  • AnthonyL on November 12, 2011 11:51 pm

    Yes, as I tried to tell you, the cosmic ray argument is null and void and has been for some time, since cosmic rays will send any mBHs they create off into the yonder through deflection, but mBHs created by the LHC could at least some of the time emerge from head on collisions with net momentum very low or zero, so they would stay around on and in Earth.

    This was acknowledged in the CERN safety report you keep not reading properly, Steve, despite Houston’s manful efforts to quote it. It was also in The Last Hour by Martin Rees, who has publicly contradicted his own view more recently as far as the danger of the LHC is concerned. But in his book said it could well lead to disaster through generating strangelets.

    All these guys chicken out of opposing CERN for obvious reasons, though it is rather unprofessional of them to speak politics rather than truth. But who can suffer crucifixion, fire and general rejection willingly, to make the point that the truth is otherwise?

    Very few, sorry to say. That is why you have to check out all the supposed crackpots to find out what is really going on. Anyone who stands in the way of a thousand lemmings is a crackpot by definition, perhaps, since it is very foolish politics.

    But some people just cant abandon their own capacity to think about things and do it with integrity.

    The choice sorry to say is basically between supporting your wife and children and advancing science, and all too people are tough enough to choose the latter, especially when the wife is standing over you with a rolling pin, which is the norm.

  • AnthonyL on November 12, 2011 11:52 pm

    That should read “all too few people are tough enough” etc of course, sorry.

  • Steve Nerlich on November 13, 2011 1:57 am

    Anthony — this heroic battle of yours is all detailed in public forums — e.g. this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_of_particle_collisions_a…n_Collider

    I note Plaga is discussed there too.

    You folks had your day in court and a fair hearing — and you lost. It is not reasonable to maintain the position that the rest of us have all caved into the establishment and you are the Rebel Alliance.

    Your response to the prevalent view that cosmic ray collisions more than mimic high energy sub-atomic collisions in the LHC and the RHIC is neither sophisticated, nor convincing.

    The idea that two particles collide at nearly the speed of light and then just sit there is unsupported by any evidence and is physically implausible. All evidence and well understood physical principles support the view that such particles will naturally fragment into high speed shrapnel (i.e. smaller pieces).

    As I have suggested previously, if you are worried about forming micro-black holes it would make (slightly) more sense to protest against the operation of fusion reactors.

  • Hansel on November 13, 2011 5:46 am

    “such particles will naturally fragment into high speed shrapnel ”

    Thats what is observed in these kind of experiments. It is strange that not a single one of rhese critics has ever read something about the collider technology, the design and the physcs behind.

  • Missionman on November 13, 2011 4:36 pm

    Anthony:

    Rainer Plaga’s paper has been rebuffed many times (see for example here: http://prd.aps.org/abstract/PRD/v80/i8/e084036), his theory, if right, would prevent the sun to exist. He admitted that his calculation included an eroor of 10^−27. He ha been silent on this issue ever since.

    Adrian Kent’s paper was published in 2003, the main cincern was that the LHC COULD potentially produce mBHs – the G&M safety report (published in 2008) is based on the assumption that such a mBH would be created, so taking into account the worst case! Again, no further comment by Kent since then.

    And finally, Eric Penrose (not Prof. ROGER Penrose, the famous mathematician and author), has no science background at all. There doesn’t exist a single scientific paper from him, published in any journal. All there exists, is some posts on the web.

    So why would anyone take this crap into account when discussing the scientific base of LHC research?

    MM

  • AnthonyL on November 13, 2011 5:15 pm

    “All evidence and well understood physical principles support the view that such particles will naturally fragment into high speed shrapnel (i.e. smaller pieces).”

    Amazing inability to read carefully phrased Comments carefully, Steve, let alone original sources, which are apparently a closed book to you. Did I imply that we weren’t talking of fragments, in your infostarved mind? I should have fleshed out my comment even more, clearly, but I am shy of filling Lifeboat Comments with ever more bloated expositions of the obvious, which is what most of this comes down to (honorable exception of TRMG, let’s note, and the ever amusing Hansel, EQ and Pinky.)

    Apparently you prefer not to read properly even the reference you quote to me now, the Wikipedia entry you name in

    “Anthony — this heroic battle of yours is all detailed in public forums — e.g. this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_of_particle_collisions_a.….n_Collider

    Perhaps Steve you would like to pause in your evasion of cognitive dissonance long enough to see that this very article contains the following quote

    (The LSAG report states)
    ”…Stable black holes could be either electrically charged or neutral. […] If stable microscopic black holes had no electric charge, their interactions with the Earth would be very weak. Those produced by cosmic rays would pass harmlessly through the Earth into space, whereas those produced by the LHC could remain on Earth. However, there are much larger and denser astronomical bodies than the Earth in the Universe. Black holes produced in cosmic-ray collisions with bodies such as neutron stars and white dwarf stars would be brought to rest. The continued existence of such dense bodies, as well as the Earth, rules out the possibility of the LHC producing any dangerous black holes.”

    Read it Steve — read your own references, at least, can’t you, please? — and contemplate the phrase “could remain on earth” and you will see enshrined in this official pronouncement exactly the problem I am talking about.

    Read on, and you will see correctly described the necessary move of the safety argument by CERN to neutron stars and white dwarf stars to cover the admitted loophole contingency, which you are busy denying still, out of ignorant faith in the accuracy of Stephen Hawking’s statement.

    Perhaps you will agree then continue to read the necessary official material and other sources such as Wiki (not known as the home of dissent, by the way) that you find credible and find out how neutron stars fail to provide any sort of safety argument and how few white dwarfs do so — a handful, five or six, as I recall?

    Hansel appears to chortle that your quote proves that skeptics here on this issue need to do more reading, but he makes the same mistake as you do, since I didn’t suggest particles remained intact after colliding, especially since this is the whole point of collisions — to break them up and see what emerges.

    Those who should do more reading are Alas it is very clear first, your honorable self, Steve, since your distinguished mind is severely under nourished with good data on this issue, and you apparently have no personal access to the physicists involved (I have and I can quote verbatim Brian Greene acknowledging to me at Philoctetes that what he called this argument, Cosmic Ray 1, was now abandoned by all informed theorists in this debate) and secondly, Hansel et al, who seem totally unaware, as ignorant as you are yourself, in fact, of the papers which demonstrate that there is indeed cause for conCERN.

    When will you guys do some reading instead of posting references you haven’t read yourselves to mislead all who take an interest in this issue.

    And kindly stop telling me it is my “heroic battle” and I am part of a group you refer to as “you folks”.

    I am a professional journalist who simply checks claims and sources on this topic and tells readers what is accurate and what is not, including what is off the cuff blather, so often purveyed at Lifeboat.

    Since I see that you are incorrigible and will do absolutely nothing to check your own claims and sources I am hereby abandoning the effort to enlighten you, since it appears to achieve nothing except to give you the chance to mislead readers further.

    And since Hansel appears now to have been confounded by Rossler in his enthusiastic endorsement of TRMG’s hand grenade thrown at Rossler’s Equation (1), it is time for me to reluctantly abandon this discussion and return to doing useful work at ScienceGuardian.com,
    to which I have already referred you, Steve, in what appears to be a vain attempt at getting you to read outside your preconceptions.

    So it is a sad farewell to your servile propaganda and Hansel’s amusingly cheeky raspberries unless TRMG makes a comeback, which I haven’t seen any sign of so far.

    It is a pity to see such fine minds as yours Steve entrained in the service of the super annuated fatheads at the top of physics who peddle the Alfred E. Neumann What Me Worry? philosophy.

    Come on Steve, you can do better. Fly the Aussie flag and challenge the smug fat cats of England like Brian Cox who sent your ancestors off in boats to a remote land for stealing a pheasant.

  • AnthonyL on November 13, 2011 5:21 pm

    MM I am merely giving them the respect they deserve, even if they are wrong, for the simple reason that they write and cogently, unlike CERN defenders here, for the most part, who could not in a thousand Comments get a proper answer from Rossler about his Equation (1).

    The sources that demonstrate that CERN’s safety arguments are inadequate are all CERN’s. But then you have to read them, and the associated papers, which no one around here troubles to do, it seems. Except the mysterious Robert Houston, who seems to have a very good handle on their self contradictions.

  • Hansel on November 14, 2011 12:20 am

    “who could not in a thousand Comments get a proper answer from Rossler about his Equation (1).”

    That should make you think about Rössler. Why is it that difficult to give the clear derivation of his equation and the connection to the equation of Einstein? Why is it so difficult for Rössler, to define the variables?

  • Steve Nerlich on November 14, 2011 2:38 am

    OK Anthony — can we make this the crux of your argument then.

    Within a paragraph that starts:

    Although theory predicts that microscopic black holes decay rapidly, even hypothetical stable black holes can be shown to be harmless by studying the consequences of their production by cosmic rays.

    and ends with:

    The continued existence of such dense bodies, as well as the Earth, rules out the possibility of the LHC producing any dangerous black holes.

    You jump on this one phrase: “…whereas those produced by the LHC could remain on Earth.” and go Ahah!!

    Really? You don’t think that the document might be working through every possible scenario that anyone could possibly dream up so they can reassure the reader that even that is not going to destroy the Earth?

    And do you reckon they then threw in a bunch of quotes from famous physicists to distract everyone from that fatal flaw in their entire argument — which of course, being a professional journalist, you spotted straight away.

    Really?

  • Otto E. Rossler on November 14, 2011 8:30 am

    Two quotes from my esteemed co-lifeboater Steve:
    1) “You folks had your day in court and a fair hearing — and you lost.”

    2) “You don’t think that the document might be working through every possible scenario that anyone could possibly dream up so they can reassure the reader that even that is not going to destroy the Earth?”

    Dear Steve: The highest authority for you in science is a court of lay-people (I exempt the Cologne Adminsitrative court here) and the outdated writings of scientists who do NOT say they have given a counter-proof to a given proof of danger.

    I hope with my whole heart that you are right with this attitude. I actually wish it to every child and mother of the planet. And to every citizen, hoping that they will never be forced by terrestrial events to change their minds.

    It feels so good to trust people who have money and power and refuse to say why they act irrationally. This feeling is called passive machismo. Give me the recipe. The red pill (not the blue one). I am serious with this and I am grateful for your efforts to pour oil on the water.

  • AnthonyL on November 14, 2011 11:09 am

    “You jump on this one phrase: “…whereas those produced by the LHC could remain on Earth.” and go Ahah!!

    Really? You don’t think that the document might be working through every possible scenario that anyone could possibly dream up so they can reassure the reader that even that is not going to destroy the Earth?

    And do you reckon they then threw in a bunch of quotes from famous physicists to distract everyone from that fatal flaw in their entire argument — which of course, being a professional journalist, you spotted straight away. REALLY? (it)

    Steve, how do you write italics here-is it html?

    Anyway, yes. really. “Could remain on Earth” means they could linger, and do their thing, which in some scenarios is Goodbye Earth.

    Naturally they then have to advance their safety argument to another basis, abandoning Cosmic Ray 1, which you only now learn is hollow, but still cling to, it seems, like a lifebelt, when it is entirely waterlogged.

    Neutron stars and white dwarves are a long step away from cosmic rays hitting the Earth = the LHC, but they are forced to go there. Can you follow them or have you given up reading references? Both these items are incredibly dense compared with Earth.

    The details are not that interesting now since they are familiar, and the safety arguments based on them are pretty desperate. But yes, the propaganda is in high gear, including quotes from as many Daddy figures as can be mustered.

    But as Hawking shows, they can be very behind on the issue.

    But I am like you, now, and have satisfied myself that good research shows that CERN safety thinking is inadequate, and so dont find the topic of much interest.

    However, if you find something new and intelligent on the topic feel free to post it. At the moment we are all depending on the good old physics standby, keeping the fingers crossed.

    It does mean however that Rossler and other conCERNed thinkers deserve proper attention, rather than rote scoffing.

  • Robert Houston on November 14, 2011 10:41 pm

    It’s ironic that an LHC critic, Prof. Otto Rossler, beat Steve Nerlich to the punch at Lifeboat by posting the same quotations by eminences that appeared in CERN’s public safety report. In fact, Rossler’s first quote was the identical one from Dr. Vitaly Ginzburg. See Rossler, July 6, 2011: http://lifeboat.com/blog/2011/07/cern-by-not-updating-its-th…scientists .

    Steve Nerlich says that the reason for his series of Appeals to Authority is “to counter the codswallop…that mainstream physicists have genuine concerns about the safety of the LHC.” But this is a strawman, for no one has suggested that the majority of mainstream physicists give a damn about public safety. The problem is that they couldn’t less. LHC critics have noted, however, that a few Ph.D. physicists, some at mainstream institutions including Cambridge and Oxford, have expressed concern about the risk of experiments at large colliders such as the LHC and RHIC. Many more scientists — even at CERN — have questioned specific safety rationales.

    Contrary to the quote by Russian physicist Vitaly Ginzberg, it is not “rubbish” to think that the LHC could produce black holes. In fact, a paper by CERN’s top safety consultant begins, “Black hole production may be the most spectacular physics at future colliders, perhaps even beginning with…the LHC” (S. Giddings, High-energy black hole production, arXiv.org, 2007). Whether they may be “dangerous” depends on whether there are “holes” in the safety assumptions, such as black hole evaporation, which have all been questioned scientifically. For example, a 2010 study by Princeton physicist Tony Rothman supported the finding of another distinguished Russian physicist, Dr. Grigory Vilkovisky, that “black holes lose only ten percent of their mass to Hawking radiation before evaporation ceases” (see: http://arxiv.org/abs/0911.2368 ).

    Mr. Nerlich’s comment that “cosmic ray collisions more than mimic…collisions in the LHC and RHIC” is incorrect. As he knows, CERN admits that for uncharged microscopic black holes, “Those produced by cosmic rays would pass harmlessly though the Earth into space, whereas those produced by the LHC could remain on Earth” (Safety of the LHC, p. 2). A huge difference! Moreover, the standard view is that black holes are uncharged, due to the Schwinger mechanism of neutralization. The products in the collider don’t “just sit there,” but some would be slowed below escape velocity, to stick around and plague us.

    Because of this gaping flaw in the cosmic ray comparison, CERN theorists in 2008 reached to dense stars for support. As they admitted, however, such neutron stars and white dwarfs are protected by magnetic fields up to a trillion times stronger than Earth’s, which could deflect or suppress cosmic rays so they can’t form black holes. Consequently, CERN’s Scientific Policy Committee judged the neutron star argument to “require confirmation” (SPC report, 2008, p. 3).

    Thus, we are left with no solid safety basis for the LHC, while its own supporting physicists estimated that “the lifetime of the earth could be shortened to less than 30 years after the LHC produced its first black hole in one extra dimension” (B. Koch et al. ArXiv.org, July 22, 2008, v.1)
    ______
    Dr. Missionman’s comment made three misstatements about a paper by German government physicist Rainer Plaga, Ph.D, on “Potential Catastrophic Risk” from LHC black holes:

    1. Plaga never “admitted that his calculation included an error of 1027.” After his paper appeared at arXiv.org in 2008, Giddings and Mangano of CERN put up a hasty rebuttal, in which they ignored his main Eq.(1), which was based on a 5-dimensional model and showed a dangerous result. Instead, they seized on the standard 4-dimensional Hawking equation, his Eq. 2, which would produce a result 23 orders of magnitude lower. In a later appendix showing how they had confused his equations, Dr. Plaga commented: “This objection criticises something I did not do and did not intend to do” (p 12). See: http://arxiv.org/abs/0808.1415v3

    2. Claiming that “Plaga’s paper has been rebuffed,” Missionman gave a link to a 2009 paper by Casadio et al., which was not a critique of Plaga. In a 2nd appendix, Dr. Plaga answered their paper, concluding: “Casadio et al…identify the range of a crucial theoretical parameter Mc for which black-hole growth is not catastrophic, but offer no argument of how to exclude that the real Mc lies outside this range” (Plaga, v. 3, p. 17).

    3. Missionman also alleged that Plaga’s theory “would prevent the sun to exist.” In actuality, Plaga presented a scenario of radiation effects from intermediate growth black holes, which would be dangerous on Earth but consistent with the observed existence of the sun and dense stars. Moreover, CERN analysts studied possible slow-down mechanisms and concluded, “these mechanisms cannot efficiently slow down neutral CR-produced black holes in Earth…and ordinary stars” (Giddings and Mangano, 2008, p. 16).

    The mentioned paper by Cambridge physicist Adrian Kent (Risk Analysis 24:157–168, 2004) was concerned with risk evaluation regarding the “killer strangelet” scenario in heavy ion experiments at RHIC and the LHC (see http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0009204 ). Missionman wrote that its “main concern was that the LHC could potentialy produce mBHs.” In reality, Kent’s paper never mentioned black holes, just as the G&M paper never discussed strangelets. One who has done so recently is Eric Penrose, a younger relative of Prof. Roger Penrose and one of the keenest LHC critics. The younger Penrose (who holds a B.Sc. in mathematics) wrote an excellent, well-documented report on the danger of strangelet production at the LHC (see http://heavyionalert.org/ ).

  • AnthonyL on November 15, 2011 8:33 am

    Excellent parade of facts, Houston.

    The issue here at Lifeboat now is whether the esteemed Nehrlich will now go to these references, read and digest them, and if he can’t come up with any objections, take them into account in what he writes, perhaps, withdrawing the characterization of “codswallop” as his routine scoff when faced with conCERN.

    This kind of bowing to the authority of factual references to evidence of conCERN by respectable figures including scientists at CERN would set a good example to the CERN defence squad here by suggesting that in a useful discussion of the topic a priori preconceptions should be open to adjustment, instead of simply being defended at all costs.

    When a discussion concerns whether an assumption is correct or not, what is the use if debate if it is always treated as a premise by one of the parties? None.

    Yet this is the way Web discussion threads operate. Could Steve show the way? He is such a gracious responder that I hope for the best in the case.

  • AnthonyL on November 15, 2011 8:36 am

    The Lifeboat gremlins strike again…it should read above “When a discussion concerns whether an assumption is correct or not, what is the use if in debate it is always treated as a premise by one of the parties? None.”