Let me first warn that I am not a science genius or, frankly, a genius of any sort. Still, while it may take a rocket scientist to fire up the Large Hadron Collider in August, it doesn’t take one to believe that doing so may not be a great idea.
From what I understand, scientists at CERN would like to use this gigantic supercollider to solve some of the most popular unanswered questions in physics. As I understand it, using this device will create small black holes and simulate the creation of the universe from a millisecond after the Big Bang, and conducting such a simulation requires use of at least ten dimensions, far beyond the three spatial dimensions at play in our consciousness today.
But, in my layman’s opinion, complete understanding isn’t really necessary to know that it might not be such a great idea. Even the scientists who are excited about the experiment and the vast amount of information it will bear acknowledge that they are dealing with the unknown, and that the chances of it causing a “global catastrophe”–such as a black hole or strangelets destroying the planet–are very slim, as little as 50 million to one.
Personally, I don’t like even a remote chance of destroying the entire planet and everyone who lives on it. I don’t care if the odds are 120 million to one–roughly the odds of me winning the Powerball jackpot–because, frankly, I don’t trust claims of “trust me, I know what I’m doing” coming from a scientist who also admits that they are dealing with unknowns. By very definition, how do you “know what you’re doing” when playing with stuff beyond your knowledge?
If I was given a piece of Civil War-era artillery and told that it was probably okay, that it had virtually NO chance of exploding, I still wouldn’t use it to play catch with my daughter. Perhaps, if I knew that it was completely inert, but even then I might find something else to do with it.
Scientists have a way of stumbling into unintended consequences. Many of our current pharmaceuticals for irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, bleeding ulcers and more came from research intended to address and treat completely different medical needs.
For me, “scientific consensus” isn’t good enough. Remember that people on the political left tout “scientific consensus” with regard to global warming, yet there is a wealth of evidence and a plethora of qualified scientists who suggest that global warming as defined by climate activists is non-existent.
If the potential adverse consequences of the LHC were more localized, perhaps even limited to a nuclear blast, I’d be fine with the experiment. However, we are dealing with the possible–albeit very improbable–destruction of the entire planet and, for me, playing with the lives of 6.7 billion men, women and children should demand more than even the longest of odds.