The reboot of the Large Hadron Collider this summer after a massive $150 million renovation caused a great deal of excitement in the scientific community. And it simultaneously triggered an outpouring of fear and despair among many religious groups and individuals, who saw in the LHC an attempt by man to play God. CERN has tried to put those fears to rest with a Q&A published on September 23.
The first question concerns, sensibly, whether the LHC is dangerous. The answer is, in a word, no. In fact “the energy reached in the LHC is modest by nature’s standards,” CERN assures. It’s miniscule compared to the cosmic rays that bombard the earth’s atmosphere unrelentingly “over billions of years.” (Oops, Cern — that billions of years is not going to assuage the fearful who believe in creationism.) But even if they can’t help talking like scientists, CERN does assure the fearful that they aren’t planning anything unusual for the “end of September” — when some believe the world will end, with CERN’s assistance. CERN also takes time to deny that it’s aim is “to prove that God does not exist” and also that the CERN “will not open a door to another dimension.” That last revelation is sure to bring about mixed reviews.