The End of the World Tomorrow?

Usually mainstream scientists and journalists treat predictions that the world will end on any particular day with utter contempt, as coming from religious nutcases. And indeed they are generally right to do so, for the Bible clearly states that Jesus will come again on a day when he is not expected (Matthew 24:44). Indeed I remember the day in 1975 when Jehovah’s Witnesses were predicting the end of the world (actually I can’t find any mentions now of a specific day, only a year, but there were certainly days being predicted at the time), and reasoning as a young Christian, but not very seriously, that Jesus could not possibly come on that day as there were people expecting him, and so it was OK for me to get drunk that night!

So it comes as quite a shock to find posted on the BBC blog a post entitled The end of the world is not nigh, in which science correspondent Tom Feilden reports that “Some scientists have voiced fears” that something which will happen tomorrow, Wednesday 10th September, “could trigger a black hole that would swallow the planet (and the rest of the solar system for good measure) in a matter of minutes.” Tom has to reassure his readers with:

The world is not going to end … on Wednesday. That’s the verdict of an exhaustive safety assessment.

So what is happening tomorrow which has worried not just religious extremists but some serious scientists, and prompted even the BBC to issue this kind of reassurance?

It is an event which is being covered by BBC radio as The Big Bang. They seem to have taken that title from the worst fears of some scientists, that what happens tomorrow will be something like a replay of the original Big Bang. We can hope that whoever thought up this title doesn’t have the gift of prophecy!

The event is of course the one I already reported in advance in June, the official switch-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator which has been built at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. The huge cost of this has been justified because, it is hoped, it will be able to smash sub-atomic particles into one another with so much energy that completely new particles are formed, providing profound insights into the fundamental nature of the universe. It seems perverse, even a big boys’ toys method as a friend of mine suggested, to investigate such things by smashing things up as hard as we can, but this does seem to be the only experimental approach.

The potential problems have been summarised in this report from CERN, with links to more comprehensive discussions. There seem to be two possible dangers. One is that the new types of matter or energy produced (“strangelets”, “vacuum bubbles” or “magnetic monopoles”) just might react with ordinary matter in some kind of chain reaction, which could immediately turn the whole world into something far more explosive than an H-bomb. The other is that the LHC may be able to produce microscopic black holes which could grow and swallow up the earth.

The basic safety argument here is that the earth has always been bombarded with cosmic ray particles, some of which are far more energetic than anything the LHC can produce, and has survived for billions of years. The CERN scientists note that

Over the past billions of years, Nature has already generated on Earth as many collisions as about a million LHC experiments – and the planet still exists

Well, maybe we have just been lucky so far, or protected by God. Would we know if other planets had disappeared into black holes? Probably not if they were outside our Solar System. So is it responsible for us to launch thousands if not millions of LHC experiments to increase the risk? Anyway, cosmic ray collisions are not directly comparable because any dangerous particles resulting from such collisions of fast moving particles with stationary matter would be shot out of our earth at very nearly the speed of light, so perhaps before they could be dangerous, whereas ones produced by the LHC from head on collisions may be much less energetic and so remain within the earth for long enough to be dangerous.

As I reported in June, if by any chance the earth is swallowed up in this way tomorrow, or later, the way it happens will be well in line with biblical prophecy, especially in 2 Peter.

Will the world end tomorrow? I don’t think so. But, following the apostle Peter’s advice, I won’t take the opportunity to get drunk!

0 thoughts on “The End of the World Tomorrow?

  1. As I noted in my post on this yesterday, a series of quantum black holes consuming the earth would definitely be fulfillment of “earth and heaven vanished away” (Rev 20:11), never mind an inescapable fiery pit or lake!

  2. Thanks, ElShaddai. I had missed your post, which for some reason has not yet appeared on Bloglines, and the particular interpretation of what might happen which you have linked to. Well, maybe it will be four years before we find out what is happening, but who knows?

  3. I would like to know where these articles get off saying “some scientists.” As far as I know, no legitimate scientist thinks the LHC is dangerous. The people filing lawsuits do not have legitimate scientific credentials.

    Part of the confusion comes from the fact that physicists – especially those who work on the quantum level – will pretty much never call anything “impossible”. For instance, it’s “possible” that all the oxygen in the air will move to the other side of the room and I will suffocate. My understanding (and, by the way, my wife was over there installing electronics on ATLAS last summer) is that the danger of the LHC destroying the world has about that level of probability.

  4. I’m fairly certain the world is not going to end tomorrow, I’m also fairly certain that we won’t be thinking about it the day before it happens, I think God will come out of left field with the whole world ending thing.
    One thing I do know is that i can’t wait to see Jesus. Be it today, tomorrow or in 60 years, I can’t wait.

  5. ElShaddai, we may have a second or a millisecond to make such an observation before we are finally crushed by the singularity. Oddly enough, we will reach it in a finite time as we observe it, but to observers outside it will take us an infinite time to disappear. Could this resolve certain questions about eternal punishment or annihilation? 😉 Anyway, Lingamish’s 32 months looks like a good compromise between tomorrow and four years.

    Kenny, the dominant voice among the scientists worried about LHC is the German biochemist Otto E. Rössler, who has an impressive academic record including being Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tübingen and visiting positions at several US universities. He certainly has “legitimate scientific credentials”. But I accept that he is not a known expert in general relativity.

    It is interesting that Rössler rejects Hawking radiation, the predicted mechanism by which small black holes would evaporate. Stephen Hawking himself recognises a less than 1% chance that the LHC will produce black holes – and predicts that if it does, Hawking radiation will be observed and he will get a Nobel prize! But what if that less than 1%, but not vanishingly small, chance comes up and black holes are produced, but Hawking is wrong about his radiation? Maybe we should be more worried than the scientists want us to be.

    Ferg, I agree with you. It would be great to see Jesus come tomorrow, but if he does it won’t be anything to do with the LHC.

  6. Pingback: Threads from Henry’s Web » Boon or Doom: Is That Really the Question?

  7. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom» Blog Archive » The end of the world postponed until 2013?

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