A lawsuit has been filed in Hawaii in an attempt to hold up the start of operations by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) atom-smasher on the French-Swiss border.
A colourful American botanist, teacher, former biologist and sometime physicist says (in outline) that the LHC may rip a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum and so destroy the Earth. He wants the US government to act now and delay the LHC's startup while a new safety review is carried out.
Walter L Wagner and his fellow Hawaiian Luis Sancho, according to a report on MSNBC, filed suit in the Hawaii federal court last Friday. The men are worried about one of several planet-busting physicists' nightmares being unleashed in the LHC's bowels deep beneath the Franco-Swiss countryside. (According to Wagner's website, as of publication, the LHC is located "near Generva, Switzerland".)
Firstly Wagner is concerned that careless atom boffins might slip up and create a miniature black hole. This would then suck in surrounding mass, gaining unstoppably in size and power in a runaway process until it had engulfed the entire Earth and packed it down inside its swelling, unescapable event horizon.
Some physicists have theorised that black holes might act as spacewarp wormhole portals into alternate universes, or something. Summarising, it appears that the boffins at the LHC - should one of them clumsily spill his tea on the controls, for instance - could easily catapult the entire world through a rift in the very fabric of space-time, into another universe which could be entirely hostile to life as we know it. (Eg, essential processes such as fermentation of alcohol, TV, pizza delivery, gravity etc might simply not work; or there could be a parallel Earth ruled by an evil victorious Nazi empire with space battlecruisers and so forth.)
That would be bad: but even if the LHC guys manage to avoid it, there are other ways in which their meddling might destroy the world.
A particularly violent game of proton billiards, for instance, of the very sort the LHC's superpowered seven trillion electron-volt atomic cues are designed to play, might lead to all sorts of trouble. Quarks might get mixed up into "negatively-charged strangelets" which would turn everything else they touched into strangelets as well. The Earth, and then perhaps the entire universe, could be turned into a fearful strangelet soup; or perhaps custard.
A related worry is that overly vigorous particle-punishing tomfoolery at the LHC could produce "magnetic monopoles", which are dicey freaks of nature. Monopoles could trigger a runaway reaction not unlike the quark-strangelet scenario, in which everything gets changed into something else. This could lead to a turn-up for the books, in which the Moon remained made of moon but the Earth was abruptly converted into cheese.
Curiously, Wagner has claimed in the past that he has already personally discovered a magnetic monopole, though in that case it didn't destroy the Earth. Appearing last year on paranormal-matters talkshow Coast to Coast ("America's most fascinating overnight radio program") alongside a time-machine professor, Wagner gave a potted bio in which he says he "discovered a novel particle in a balloon-borne cosmic ray detector, initially identified as a magnetic monopole".