All is calm
Threat averted The Compact Muon Solenoid, one of the detectors at the Large Hadron Collider, did not observe any super-tiny black holes.

Microscopic black holes fail to appear at Large Hadron Collider

Theoretical concerns that planet-destroying black holes might be created at the Large Hadron Collider have been allayed for now. We’re safe at least to the 7 trillion electron volts energy level.
By Richard C. Lewis  |  December 21, 2010  |  Email to a friend

Breathe easier, world. Those black holes that some had feared would be created in a super particle collider and consume the planet appear to be the stuff of science fiction after all.

A cadre of theoretical physicists had speculated that microscopic black holes could be created at the high-energy impacts taking place at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. For the theory to work, the universe would need to have more dimensions than the three spatial dimensions we know about. One answer to that quandary is gravity, which would be felt far more strongly at the quantum level than what we feel in nature.

Physicists had hoped that particles at the LHC might collide “closely enough” to give clues to the possible extra dimensions. In such a case, the colliding particles could interact gravitationally with strengths similar to those of the other three fundamental forces — the electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions. The two colliding particles might then form a microscopic black hole.

Recent collisions studied by one of the detectors in the LHC, called the Compact Muon Solenoid, did not yield any super-tiny black holes, scientists reported in a paper submitted to Physics Letters. Greg Landsberg, professor of physics at Brown, with postdoctoral research associate Alexey Ferapontov and physics graduate student Ka Vang Tsang, helped analyze the data and are among authors on the paper.

“Of course, we would have been much more excited if (CMS) had detected something,” said Landsberg, a co-convener of the CMS international group. Still, the LHC, which has dealt with glitches including a partial meltdown that caused experiments to be postponed in 2008, is already producing high-energy collisions that promise to reveal fundamental aspects of nature as we know it, Landsberg said.

If a black hole had been produced and detected by the CMS, it would have evaporated immediately. Scientists now can rule out the possibility of black holes’ creation at energies up to 7 trillion electron volts, the highest energies produced so far at the LHC.

That’s just warming up for the LHC. The collider can reach energies twice that level, so the creation of a black hole remains a possibility.

“So far, we don’t have any evidence that this could happen or could not happen,” Landsberg said. “You have to cross certain energy thresholds (first).”