March 17, 2005

...And Other Barenaked Ladies Songs

Sorry for my long silence, I've been studying like crazy for a midterm I had this morning. It seems that perhaps I shouldn't have bothered...

From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature: Lab fireball 'may be black hole'

Anybody who has read Bill Bryson's excellent book A Short History of Nearly Everything will hopefully remember the frankly alarming section about how physicists working with particle accelerators might accidentally create a black hole which could devour the earth.

Well... Oops.

Horatiu Nastase, a scientist at Brown University, has created what he thinks may be a black hole in New York state (my God, I feel like I'm writing a Douglas Adams novel). But don't worry: "even if the ball of plasma is a black hole, it is not thought to pose a threat" (emphasis mine).

NOT THOUGHT to pose a threat?!?!?!? You mean, they're not really sure? Does it seem like a bad idea to anybody else that physicists should be allowed to go around doing stuff willy-nilly that may or may not destroy the world, while in the meantime people in Britain need a license just to watch TV? Priorities, people!

Vinny! Please reassure me!

2 Comments:

At 17/3/05 17:53, Anonymous Stretch said...

A few years ago when i was researching a paper i came across an anecdote relating to Oppenheimer, the physicist who oversaw the Manhattan Project. Apparently he had some doubts about the effects of setting off atomic weapons. There was some concern that the nuclear chain-reaction could spread to the atmosphere and essentially torch the whole planet in one go. According to the story, before he gave the okay to set off the first weapons test he did a back of the napkin calculation that there was less than a one in three million chance of accidentally setting the atmosphere alight. Well, i guess he was right. And hey, its not like nuclear weapons ever hurt anyone, right?

 
At 18/3/05 11:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Horatiu doesn't seem too worried.

www.het.brown.edu/~nastase/

If he's not worried, I'm not worried.

 

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