Hawaii man trying to save the universe
Hawaii often finds itself at the center of the universe when it comes to newsworthy events. But now we are possibly at the center of the END of the universe. The world watched when Barack Obama recently vacationed here. That was a big story. But it is nothing compared to the story of a Hawaii man who is trying to save the Earth and possibly the entire universe from destruction.
Big Island resident Walter Wagner, a former cosmic ray researcher, has filed a lawsuit in federal court here to try to stop a huge new particle accelerator on the Swiss / French border from going into operation this week. Wagner and a Spanish co-plaintiff think there's a real danger that when protons are smashed together in the Large Hadron Collider just outside of Geneva, a mini-black hole could be created that could immediately suck up the Earth or worse. And even if black holes aren't created in the collisions, other strange things could occur that would make global warming seem cute by comparison. The strangest thing that could happen is the release of a "strangelet" that could convert Earth to a lump of dead matter called "strange matter."
I know, this sounds like some crazy sci-fi stuff that even L. Ron Hubbard would have scoffed at. But consider this: Scientists know so little about the many tiny theoretical particles that could be created in what is the world's largest atom-smasher that they've actually named one a "strangelet." Couldn't they have at least named it something that sounds a little more scientific, like a Hubbard-quantum-hyper-thingie? There are so many possible subatomic particles that the scientists have simply run out of real scientific names for them. Some of the others are actually named - and I'm not kidding here - gluons, gravitons, excitons and WIMPs.
Scientists hope that by crashing protons at each other at nearly the speed of light (those tests won't start for a month), they'll be able to recreate what happened a micro-second after the Big Bang and learn more about all these strange oddly named particles. I flunked high school science several times but I still would just like to point out that the Big Bang is called that for a reason. There was a BANG. And it was BIG. And recreating it in a 17-mile-long tunnel in Switzerland might be a little dicier than imagined.
In any case, the world is watching Hawaii again to see what happens to Walter Wagner's lawsuit. It's a tad off-putting that the survival of the universe could come down to a Hawaii judge.
Hawaii U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo has filed a 50-page defense of the planned particle collisions on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department. I have complete trust in Kubo's grasp of quantum theory, even though last time I was with him, we were judging a doggie Halloween costume contest for the Hawaiian Humane Society.
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