Mark Henderson “Not another LHC lawsuit…”

22 11 2009

Mr Henderson complains of yet another “ridiculous lawsuit” waiting in the wings against the Large Hadron Collider.  For those that do not know, this machine seeks to recreate the birth of the Universe.  Now, seeing as we don’t know HOW the universe started (if it ever did have a beginning), this experiment will produce an unknown result and it is the unknown that the ignorant (myself included) fear.

The result could be nothing more than the fusing of two atoms.  Then again, this could possibly have the effect of creating a gravitational force a thousand times stronger than the Sun sucking the Earth and all that inhabit it into nothing more than compressed space matter ready for universal recycling.

So a group calling themselves ConCERNed International fearing the latter want to postpone the experiment.  And although the commentator Mark Leggett (21 Nov 2009 19:17:13) brings up a couple of good points with the following:

Mark, you wrote:

“Countless physicists (my emphasis)have already addressed and dismissed the idea that the LHC presents any kind of measurable threat. CERN’s website sums up the argument here, and you can read the full safety report it commissioned (my emphasis) here.”

These words show the problem.

The complainants are uneasy because of reference to a basic sense of fairness. This is embodied in one of the pillars of our civilisation – the notion within natural justice of procedural fairness: the rule against bias (nemo debet esse judex in propria sua cause – “no one to be a judge in their own cause”).

Would you be happy if the only safety checks for a radical very high power new prototype passenger plane before it was released for your family to be passengers on were done by the proponents for the plane?

You also wrote:

“When CERN started up the Large Hadron Collider for the first time last year, it was hit
with a … lawsuit. Walter Wagner … argued
that the atom-smasher might create a black hole that could destroy the world,
and went to court in Hawaii, of all places, to try to stop it.
The case was thrown out.”

Indeed, the case was dismissed, but only on the grounds that the US court did not have jurisdiction, not,therefore, on the technical merits.

Also, in her decision, concerning decision-making on the risk from the LHC, Judge Helen Gillmor wrote these history-making words: “It is clear that Plaintiffs’ action reflects disagreement among scientists about the possible ramifications of the operation of the Large Hadron Collider. This extremely complex debate is of concern to more than just the physicists.”

So there are substantial, authoritative, disinterested bases for the concern shown by ConCERNed International.

I will have to side with the LHC team as I’m sure they know what they’re doing and I’m sure any of the complaining intellectuals would stop complaining if invited on such a project.  For I don’t think the scientists, physicists or Politicians involved would risk the entire universe in such a way, so will side with authority this time.  There was dissent among the scientists regarding the creation of the nuclear bomb, with some fearing a reaction that would engulf the earth, not just the Nevada testing grounds.

Although I do hope they’re very careful.




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