It’s not the end of the world
U.S. officials dismiss a Big Isle man's claims about a research tool
Strangelets, micro black holes and magnetic monopoles will not lead to the end of the world as we know it, according to the federal government.
U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo and a team of Justice Department attorneys filed a response yesterday to a lawsuit filed by a Big Island man and a Spanish writer alleging that the world's largest and most powerful particle collider could destroy the Earth.
In a 50-page response, Kubo called the allegations in the lawsuit "overly speculative and not credible" and asked a judge to dismiss it.
Pepeekeo resident Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho filed their lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii in March, seeking more environmental studies and a restraining order to stop the Large Hadron Collider from starting operation this summer.
The underground collider is 17 miles in circumference and located on the French-Swiss border near Geneva. Using superconducting magnets, the collider is designed to send two beams of protons smashing into each other at close to the speed of light and detect the subatomic particles created by the collision.
In his lawsuit, Wagner, who described himself as a science editor for Wikipedia and a retired nuclear safety officer and science teacher, argued that the collider could produce tiny black holes that could grow and quickly swallow the Earth.
"There is no question that should defendants inadvertently create a dangerous form of matter such as a micro black hole or strangelet, or otherwise create unsafe conditions of physics, then the environmental impact would be both local and national in scope, and quite deadly to everyone," Wagner's lawsuit alleged.
But the U.S. attorneys said Wagner's theories are "not accepted by the scientific community, are not based on rigorous scientific analysis, and are unfounded."
Kubo said CERN, the European nuclear agency that runs the collider, commissioned a group of physicists to re-examine the safety issues.
That report, released last week, found "no basis for any concerns about he consequences of new particles or forms of matter that could possibly be produced."
The U.S. attorneys asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit because the plaintiffs have no standing to bring the lawsuit and the federal court has no jurisdiction over CERN.
"While plaintiff's theories may be creative, they provide no credible allegations as to how a machine located on the other side of the planet could harm any of the Plaintiff's interests in this judicial district," Kubo said in his response.
The United States spent about $531 million toward the construction of the collider and built several of the magnets. The total cost of the project, not including labor, is about $5.84 billion.
The money, Kubo argued, has already been spent and title to the magnets already transferred to CERN.
"The experiments would likely still occur with non-federally-financed researchers even if the United States did not participate," Kubo said.
"The court should similarly reject plaintiff's challenges for the pure speculation they are and dismiss plaintiff's claims," the U.S. response continued.