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For Gregg Easterbrook: coolest ways that the Large Hadron Collider could destroy the Earth and/or the Universe.

1. BLACK HOLE EATS THE WORLD OH NOES!!!! LHC could create a miniature black hole, which could start gobbling up matter, growing bigger and bigger, until the entire Earth is crushed into a spacetime singularity, or quark soup, or whatever.  It eventually everything in the Universe will be so crushed, by this black hole or another, black holes which, after a google or so years, will evaporate into a rarified haze of boring.

Why this won’t happen: much more energetic collisions happen all over the Universe, all the time, including here on Earth (though not so frequently in the same exact place.)  One would expect that if anything was going to turn into a mini black hole and eat the world, we would already have been eated.  Also, any black hole created would be crazy tiny and crazy short-lived, and – how to put this delicately? – it is perfectly valid to suppose there is no such thing as tiny black holes anyways.  Yeah, I know, I know, but when I took cosmology a decade ago we knew everything there was to know, and now you tell us you can’t identify 96% of the Universe?  Apart from 24/25ths of it, though, you’re mos def.  If I couldn’t identify 96% of the answers on a cosmology test, would you listen to my predictions?  Exactly.

Goofiness: moderate.

Possible awesomeness if it happened anyway: five out of ten Airwolves.  I drink your spacetime!

2. STRANGE MATTER ICE-9’S THE WORLD OMGWTF!!!! The LHC could create a stable strangelet, which would convert everything it touched into “strange matter”, which would be all strange and shit.  We’d die.

Why this won’t happen: Again, more energetic things are happening everywhere constantly, no strangelets in sight.  Additionally, there is essentially no reason to think such things exist, or could exist under any circumstances, or that any single link in the deadly chain reaction I have described is remotely plausible at all.  Still, it could happen, in much the same way that the LHC could suddenly turn us all into an huge ball of kittens.  Admittedly, strange quarks are real.  But so are kittens.

Goofiness: this scenario recreates the goofiness believed to exist 1 billionth of a second before the Big Bang.

Possible awesomeness if it happened anyway: four out of ten Airwolves.  (Eight out of ten for the kittens thing).

3. FALSE VACUUM DECAY FTW!!!1! My favorite.  Ever get the feeling that the reality we inhabit is not the truest reality?  Ever forget which bottle of OJ has all the LSD in it and spend the next 8 hours pondering neoplatonism and Gnostic Christianity?  Philip K. Dick says “yup” and “right after my second bowl of Honey-Nut-Methamphetamine Cheerios”, and he could be righter than he ever imagined.  We could be living in a “metastable vacuum“, one which could suddenly fall apart into the true vacuum state, where the most fundamental aspects of reality are suddenly redefined, and the LHC could push us over the edge, if there is an edge.  Or it could push us into a new reality exactly the same as our false reality, only Ricky Martin is now gay.  OH SHIT!!!!!!!

Why this won’t happen: the “happens a million times bigger all the time since forever” thing again.  And the “there’s no particular reason to think this is possible”, and that “there’s no particular reason to think bumping protons would ever cause it” thing.  But there might be a cosmological constant.  Or dark energy.  Or something.

Goofiness: Livin La Vida Goofy.

Possible awesomeness if it happened anyway: As the laws of physics would no longer apply, this could conceivably be awesomer than Airwolf.  Because of science.