Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lost Souls

Martha Jones, ex-time traveller and now working as a doctor for a UN task force, has been called to CERN where they're about to activate the Large Hadron Collider. Once activated, the Collider will fire beams of protons together recreating conditions a billionth of a second after the Big Bang - and potentially allowing the human race a greater insight into what the Universe is made of.

But so much could go wrong - it could open a gateway to a parallel dimension, or create a black hole - and now voices from the past are calling out to people and scientists have started to disappear... Where have the missing scientists gone? What is the secret of the glowing man? What is lurking in the underground tunnel? And do the dead ever really stay dead?

Lost Souls is on Radio 4 on Wednesday 10 September at 2.15pm. A report by EONR said there was "no conceivable danger"

But there have been fears about the possibility of a mini-black hole - produced in the collider - swelling so that it gobbles up the Earth... Critics have previously raised concerns that the production of weird hypothetical particles called strangelets in the LHC could trigger the mass conversion of nuclei in ordinary atoms into more strange matter - transforming the Earth into a hot, dead lump.
The vacuum around a mini-black hole is a quantum-mechanical vacuum, full of short-lived virtual particle-antiparticle pairs. So it is almost bound to swallow one of those quanta (of the lowest energy level), which amounts to the creation of an actual particle or antiparticle. And mass-energy being conserved, that means a net loss of mass-energy to the mini-black hole, making it even smaller, etc. It would be better to call it a mini-white hole.
......Still, a black-hole is a crease in space-time, so who knows about the lost souls? There is a nice sci-fi trilogy about souls flooding back into the land of the living (and space-faring), following a Reality Dysfunction (involving an alien investigating spatial distortions in an energistic vacuum)—a nice blend of zombies, gangsters and astronauts, I thought.

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