Mar 19, 2011 I Micah Hanks

Could CERN’s Large Hadron Collider Cause Catastrophies?

While news continues to pour out of Japan regarding the massive quake that occurred last week (news sources are now referring to it as a 9 magnitude, rather than an 8.9), the internet is rife with bizarre speculation about what might be causing such uproarious earth changes, with fears lingering that locations like California could be next in line for disaster.

Who can really say what the actual causes are behind earthquakes of this sort; especially if, of course, there truly is anything anomalous underlying the situation. In my opinion, people do have a tendency to look for "bogeymen," that is, some kind of scapegoat to blame our cultural woes upon; this happens socially in a conventional sense, and little is different in Fortean circles. Hence, as I mentioned at Gralien Report just the other day, we have creepy critters like Mothman forever pinned to the presence of disasters (i.e. my essential concept of what I call the "Fortean Folk Devil"). But is it really just madness to speculate that there could be other factors that lay behind the recent quakes which we, for the most part, remain unaware of? What about the chance that some of these factors could be man made?

Recently, my friend Mike Mott, a researcher known both for his Fortean insights as well as his fiction writing, suggested the potential destructive nature of the controversial CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), noting how such a device could possibly be linked to large-scale seismic activity. "The LHC presents the biggest magnetic field on Earth," Mike notes, "after the one centered in the nucleus of the planet; and so it is potentially an earthquake machine that disturbs the magnetic field." Speculating on the notion that earthquakes might actually result from use of the LHC may seem strange, but a surprising amount of concern has resulted since the launch of the project in 2008, mostly due to whether a device working with the atomic substructure of our planet in such a way could trigger disasters. "There is an even more worrisome scenario," Mott adds. "If the machine is producing semi-stable black holes or strangelets, when they fall towards the Earth, they would explode provoking motions in the plates of unknown intensity that could explain the obvious rise in earthquake activity since the machine went on line." The LHC was first activated in September 2008, but was shut down subsequently until the following year due to a technical fault.

There are instances, as Mott notes, where other earthquakes have seemed to coincide with LHC activity. "Last year when CERN put the LHC at work, within a week you had the 8.8 Chilean earthquake­, the 6th biggest in history. Now after 3 months of halting the machine, they put it online and we get the 5th biggest… 2 of the BIGGEST earthquakes of history in a year." Is this a mere coincidence, or could there be a correlation?

Mott supposes that the machine is "likely causing gravitomag­netic waves, noting how changes in Earth's subtle magnetic field could host potential for disaster if instability were presented by alternative sources of magnetism. "Whenever a new magnetic source appears a magnetic field reorders itself. Whenever the machine is switched again within a week the Earth "reorders" the plates, and you get a massive earthquake. Now the stress is gone, the field is reordered. But we haven’t seen anything yet."

Is what Mott proposes just crazy talk, or could there be something more to what he offers? In truth, Mott is only one of many who continue speculating on the LHC's dangerous potential. Retried German chemist Otto Rossler was quoted in the UK Daily Mail in 2008 expressing fears about whether the LHC could lead to the creation of a black-hole-fueled energy quasar in the center of the Earth:

'Nothing will happen for at least four years,’ he said. ‘Then someone will spot a light ray coming out of the Indian Ocean during the night and no one will be able to explain it.

‘A few weeks later, we will see a similar beam of particles coming out of the soil on the other side of the planet. Then we will know there is a little quasar inside the planet.’

Incidentally, the LHC, having gone active for its earliest tests in late 2008, would set a projected date for the kind of disturbances Rossler predicts around the end of the year 2012. Could the Mayans have been right, after all?

Furthermore, Mott notes that outside the CERN building stands a statue of the Hindu god Shiva, often referred to in the Hindu tradition as "Destroyer of Worlds." If indeed there is any potential for danger associated with the LHC, this is a rather tragic coincidence, to say the least. Nonetheless, two safety reviews backed by CERN have concluded that there are no dangers associated with the LHC's ongoing activity, a viewpoint which the American Physical Society has subsequently adopted and maintained. Then again, looking back at the earliest days of experimentation with what are known today as X-rays, we're reminded of Clarence Dally, a pioneering scientist who worked alongside Thomas Edison. Dally didn't realize the harmful effects of Rontgen's new discovery until the subsequent amputation of his hands and, later, death from mediastinal cancer had ensued resulting from his exposure to the powerful (and deadly) X-ray radiation, prompting Edison to fearfully resign from his research with the curious energies. Sadly, this is often the case with science: people have traditionally had a tendency to leap right in before looking to see if an alligator waits in the swimming pool first. Hopefully, the ongoing experimentation with CERN's LHC won't produce such a scaly beast of burden on down the road.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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