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Will high energy collider experiments destroy earth?
Recent developments in physics suggest an increased risk that upcoming high energy collider experiments will destroy the earth. String theorists predict that colliders will produce mini-black holes, which will dissipate via Hawking radiation. The danger is that Hawking radiation, which has never been seen nor tested, may not work as expected. It is becoming a tradition that the physicists involved in large experiments of this kind publish a risk assessment, to convince themselves and others that the risk is minimal. This is a good tradition. It is a very good thing that they think about such things. However, it is not enough that the physicists involved police themselves. When a group has invested millions and built careers around a project, it is too easy to make little of what are admittedly small risks. Francesco Calogero (see references section) has suggested that the risks be evaluated by a red team, arguing in favor, and a blue team, arguing against. The collider physicists, to their credit, are providing the red team. It is up to the rest of us, other interested physicists, the news media, and knowledgeable members of the public, to provide the blue team.