An artist's rendition of a black hole in space.

An artist's rendition of a black hole in space.

UCSB Prof. Publishes Research on Man-Made Black Holes

Paper Touts Basic Physics Research, Refutes Fears About World Ending

Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

If UCSB researcher Steven Giddings’ recent ideas about black hole creation on Earth are realized, then you might want to read this story fast, because those black holes could very well swallow up the planet. That’s what critics of the project, say, anyway, though Giddings would disagree that the research poses any threat to our existence.

Giddings, a professor of physics, has coauthored a paper that has been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of the scientific journal Physical Review D. The paper, “Astrophysical Implications of Hypothetical Stable TeV-scale Black Holes,” discusses his research on small, hypothetical black holes that would be produced by a machine called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is being built in Geneva, Switzerland. The project, which will launch this September, has taken 14 years and has cost $8 billion.

The idea of black holes on Earth, however, has created some controversy, mostly due to the fear of the possibility that they might suck matter into them. According to a press release from the UCSB Office of Public Affairs, two men in Hawai’i have filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of stopping the startup of the LHC, citing apprehension about the safety of black holes.

However, Giddings has said that safety has been one of the researchers’ top priorities from the start.

The future health of our planet and the safety of its people are of paramount concern to us all,” Giddings said in the press release. “There were already very strong physics arguments that there is no risk from hypothetical micro black holes, and we’ve provided additional arguments ruling out risk even under very bizarre hypotheses.”

In addition, Giddings said that despite his best hopes for the LHC, the possibility of it actually succeeding at creating black holes is very slight; but, if the researchers did end up producing one, the benefits would be vast. “Black hole production is not likely,” he said. “[But] on the off chance it did happen, it would be very exciting, and we’d learn a lot from it. There would be enormous consequences for our understanding of physical reality. Just discovering more dimensions of space would be a huge revolution in our understanding of nature : The LHC is exploring the next frontier of science, and is designed to help us understand the structure of matter, the properties of forces, and the nature of space and time at even shorter distances and higher energies than ever before,” he added.

According to Giddings, the LHC works by smashing several protons together at very high energies. “Occasionally,” he said, “when two of these protons collide, there is enough energy to temporarily produce new forms of matter, and possibly see effects of new kinds of forces beyond electromagnetism and gravity.” These new kinds of forces include black holes. “In some of our theories, there are extra dimensions of space,” Giddings said. “If the extra dimensions of space are configured in certain particular ways, it could be possible that black holes - or more properly quantum black holes - would be produced. This would happen when the proton collisions managed to focus enough energy into a very small region.”

Giddings said the value of this research is priceless, and will have an impact on technology of the future. “Look at history,” he said. “Much of what we have in modern society traces directly back to discoveries in fundamental physics in the past century or so. You wouldn’t have your cell phone, your iPod, your computer, or many other of the great benefits of technology without discoveries in fundamental physics : But when the original physics discoveries were first made, it was very hard for people to envision all their possible applications toward improving our lives,” he added. “That’s part of how basic research works. We drive toward deeper understanding, and ultimately that improves us in many ways.”

This story has been amended since its first posting.

Devon Claire Flannery is an Independent intern.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

According to a _NY Times_ version of the story, there is only a 1 in 10 chance that the earth will be destroyed, so what's all the fuss about?

SamRedDog (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2008 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

With half of the 'Standard Model' missing, shrouded within a mathematical haze of pure speculation, and the LHC being built upon these antiquated precepts, there is absolutely no way of telling what awaits CERN! It will take these experiments to extricate the physics community from their stagnated, depressing, and quagmired current positions! At least one sector of the 'Standard Model' shall receive a tsunami of change, that will send the mathematicians and physicists scrambling wildly, in their 'click' groups, to hurriedly install these new, very much needed corrections! A Brave New World! There is no doubt, that the future world desperate energy needs lie in LHC technologies; however, the production course should be traveled with extreme caution! The LSAG 'safety report' covers only lower energy 2008 'start-up' operation projections, and speaks nothing toward the pre-planned decade of precision energy upgrades to come, set to begin in 2009! This same report only covers previous public dockets of concern, and nothing of the 'new' emerging risk assessment meetings, that are in progress 'Behind Closed Doors'! CERN is grappling with multiple variance-calculation paradoxes, even as Michelangelo Mangano (and others) penned the now famous 'quiet the public' 'Safe-Status' safety report! Two such situations are known: #1). CERN Uncertainty RE: Quantum Time-Dilation Contraction-Calibration Equations; used for particle beam timing/focus, to maximize the optimum collisions per/second, during 'Impact Moment', which are being detector analyzed. This line of equations must be precise, or facility damage may result! #2). ALICE heavy (Pb) ion collisions, scheduled to begin (once financed) in 2009. This project generates hyper-density plasmatic fields, that could affect a gravitational curvature; thus possibly producing a compression singularity vortex within a forced equilibrium state, which can create an event-horizon expansion perimeter. This is known as an expanded: Einstein-Rosen Bridge Wormhole: QUANTUM WORMHOLE! Director General Robert Aymar, Catherine Decosse (ALICE), Michelangelo Mangano, Stephen Hawking, CERN Theory Unit, and LSAG have entered into discussions, at this time!

robertmarshii (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2008 at 10:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This statement "If UCSB researcher Steven Giddings' recent efforts to create black holes on Earth succeed, then you might want to read this story fast, because those black holes could very well swallow up the entire universe." is the most unfounded asinine thing that a reporter in an effort to sensationalize could have said. With a bit of research the reporter would have discovered how ridiculous this is. Our own galaxy (not the Universe) has at least 1 if not more black holes at the center. Why are we still here then? And how long would it take to swallow up not only our Milky Way galaxy (Eons) but the entire galaxy?

SBComputerGuy (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2008 at 5:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Calm down SBComputerGuy, sometimes sensationalism makes topics like this a little bit more fun.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
July 9, 2008 at 9:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, Mr. SBComputerGuy, a balck hole at galatic center is a wee bit further from us than even Las Vegas on a heavy traffic day. Not only that, but our Sun's orbital velocity keeps us away from the Big Haps at galazy center, with all of Sir Issac Newton's help.

What youth wants to know is, what happens if a teeny black hole is created beneath the mountains at CERN? From published reports I've seen, those things get _hungry_!

SamRedDog (anonymous profile)
July 9, 2008 at 5:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is so cool...
but then I am a bit of a Flounder like geek of a dweeb.
This is not unlike Cristobal Colon sailing off the edge of the earth.
Don't be afraid kids!
Sometimes we must take calculated risks to make progess. And then when there is no way to adequately determine the factors involved much less the equation to produce the "super wild 'idea' guess" ... we just have to wing it. Maybe this is the stepping stone to hyper space!

dionysiuspetros (anonymous profile)
July 9, 2008 at 8:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No place to run if this LHC experiment has an accident or an oops.

The safety report on the LHC is based on theory, the experiment is all theory, as the scientists do no know exactly will happen.

So we trust these scientists with our lives to let them play with the LHC machine. What gives them the right?

Scientists are never wrong. Trust them with your life.

Manbearpig (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2008 at 11:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

IF the LHC experiments are long-term successful, then we have discovered the driving force behind the entire project! Many discoveries could be made, but the 'Holy Grail' is not just the Higgs Boson, or Multiple Dimensions, although it is to complete the 'Standard Model' for another reason! RE: "our future world desperate energy needs"; and this has been confirmed by a member of the Cambridge UK Science Staff! The LHC ALICE/ATLAS is hoped to uncover the basic design in nature, that could reveal a controllable and sustainable NUCLEAR FUSHION PROCESS!!! All other attempts, at all other levels have failed, and this is one of the final desperate attempts! Yes, there are many reasons, and hopes, but this is the driving force of monetary investment, made by the multi-national communities!!!

robertmarshii (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2008 at 5:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hello, black holes are one of the most fascinating phenomena of the world. Numerous research papers have been created on the topic of these and are favorite of students. You can take a look at
to get the idea!

ViolaSheen (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 4:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: