American Enterprise Institute "Economist" of Mass Destruction Kevin Hassett Strikes Again (Republican War on Science Department)
Carrying the Republican War on Science to previously unplumbed depths of human stupidity, Kevin "Dow 36000" Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute calls for the USAF to bomb both France and Switzerland, hoping to get the scientists in their tunnels before they can destroy the earth:
Atom Smasher Exposes Hole in Earth’s Defenses: The Large Hadron Collider... consumes about the same amount of energy as a large city... could provide evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, a hypothesized particle that has become known as the God particle. If it is found to exist, it could complete our understanding of the basic laws of the universe.... [T]he collider’s energy could induce a catastrophic event. A brilliant review of the risks associated with the experiment by University of North Dakota law professor Eric Johnson.... The chief threat is that the LHC’s high-energy collisions might create a microscopic black hole that would, perhaps over a few years, swallow the Earth.... One paper even suggested that something with the energy level of the LHC might generate one black hole per second.
With its initial safety argument under assault, the physics community turned to an alternative. Even if a black hole were created, this new argument went, it would be tiny and would evaporate harmlessly. This was consistent with a theory of physicist Stephen Hawking. The evaporation argument was widely viewed as sound, and the LHC continued on track. But later, some top scholars began to publish papers questioning the evaporation hypothesis. The issue is far from decided. So the physics community retreated to what originally seemed like a terrific point: High-energy cosmic rays constantly bombard Earth and collide with particles in the atmosphere. If those collisions were going to create a black hole, then Earth would already be gone. It turns out that this argument, too, is a loser. When a cosmic ray rocketing toward Earth collides with a particle, the result of the collision would most likely be blasted into space. That means a black hole created by such a collision might be well beyond our galaxy before it is large enough to harm anything. In the LHC, by contrast, the result of collisions between two particle beams might stay put and cause significant trouble....
Oxford University’s Toby Ord, a philosopher by training, adds... [i]t may be that the models that we use to make predictions about the possibility of catastrophe are themselves flawed.... Ord estimates that the odds of the LHC producing a disaster are between one in 1,000 and one in 1 million... the likely benefits from this experiment... [cannot]... justify accepting a cost that includes a real risk of the Earth’s destruction.... As science progresses, the possibility climbs ever higher that the fondest dreams of scientists might entail risks of planetary destruction.... The best science explores things far from our understanding. How can we know that things we do not understand will not kill us?
Right now... [if] the U.S. wanted to stop the LHC experiment, it would have no recourse short of military action...
Business Week should be deeply, deeply ashamed of itself.
I know that the American Enterprise Institute is not shamed by anything, but even an organization that is not shamed by anything should be ashamed of this.
Let me just say that, IIRC, Leon Lederman named the hypothesized Higgs boson the "God particle" as a joke, because its effects were everywhere yet nobody had ever seen it in the flesh--not because it was in any way powerful or dangerous or numinous or terrifying.
It saddens me to think of the physicists who are going to have to waste their time dealing with this...