“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
— Siddhartha Guatama Buddha
Back when John F. Kenney Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999, one of the more tantalizing and outlandish rumors was that his plane was sucked into a miniature black hole created by scientists smashing high-speed particles with the relativistic heavy ion collider at Brookhaven National Labs on Long Island.
In fact a couple reporters called the lab to ask whether that was possible. There had been stories in a London newspaper and a letter in Scientific American. There was a paper written about it 2003.
It was not the first time, not will it be the last, that doomsday speculation and rumors swirled around a mysterious scientific endeavor.
When they set off the Trinity A-bomb in the New Mexico desert, some feared the detention could ignite the oxygen in the atmosphere and burn the planet to a crisp like a marshmallow too long in the fire.
But I have it on good authority that Kennedy’s plane definitely was not swallowed by a black hole — my elder son, who happens to be one the aforementioned smashers at Brookhaven.
He wrote his doctoral thesis at Yale on something called gluons and has created a number of animations for the lab explaining what they are detecting after smashing stuff together.
This one from YouTube is one of his:
I don’t understand it either.
In that paper I mentioned above, an interview Jeff gave the newspaper Newsday is quoted, explaining his scientific theory about this potential disaster and why his experiment is worth the risk:
“A bunch of us were sitting drinking beers one night, trying to figure out a good practical application for RHIC. … There are always an odd number of socks when they come out of the wash, so there’s got to be some black hole that swallows up all the socks. So we came up with a way to study this in the laboratory.”
Recently an even bigger collider than the one at Brookhaven opened at the Cern in Switzerland, called the Large Hadron Collider. Rumors of its potential echoed the ones about Brookhaven.
So, to assuage such rumors, my son Jeff, sent me a video showing the security cameras at the start up the new collider. View and rest assured all is safe and you have nothing to worry about unless you read it in the newspaper first.
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