FAST FIVE: Breaking Open A Black Hole: The World's Most Dangerous Experiment

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First, Scientific American published a moderately terrifying paper titled “Black Holes are Everywhere” and then a team of researchers at Princeton University numerically solved the Einstein-hydrodynamic equations in order to determine that black holes are, in fact, way easier to create than previously thought.

The “Ultrarelativistic Black Hole Formation” study from Princeton University, published in 2013, developed new computer models which they utilized to show that the formation of a black hole would actually require less than half the energy — 2.4 times less, to be precise — than previous research had determined.

And that black hole did not start rapidly sucking in surrounding matter faster and faster until it devoured the Earth, as sensationalist news reports had suggested it might.” The fear around these larger-than-life experiments was so potent and widespread that CERN has an entire page on their website dedicated to the Frequently Asked Question “Will CERN generate a black hole?” and even the Princeton scientists addressed it in their academic report, noting that even with the new calculations finding that black holes require much less energy to open up than previously thought, opening up a black hole big enough to collapse the earth would still require billions of times more energy than the LHC is capable of generating.

What's more, even if and when a black hole did open up in the collider, it would disappear just as quickly thanks to an effect called Hawking radiation.  (Click to enlarge) Source: ; While fears of the Armageddon-causing potential of these microscopic black holes may have been overblown, however, the fact that the particle can open up these tiny black holes was then and remains now an absolute truth.

In the most extreme scenario Rees describes, a physics mishap could cause space itself to decay into a new form that wipes out everything from here to the farthest star.” Rees himself recognizes that these scenarios are extremely unlikely, but in the author's own words, “given the stakes, they should not be ignored.” And now that the Event Horizon Telescope has successfully captured the first-ever image of a black hole, scientists are dreaming up ever more radical future experiments.

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