Last week, physicists in Geneva excitedly announced the existence of the Higgs Boson, or God particle, a subatomic particle thought to be the key to understanding the makeup of the universe. What these physicists conveniently left out is that their means of discovering the God particle - smashing protons together at near-light speed using the Large Hadron Collidor in Geneva - produces a potentially planet-ending byproduct -- miniature black holes. While CERN physicists contend that these black holes are too small to threaten the Earth, some physicists disagree - along with a N.Y. Times best-selling author whose new book, PHOBOS: Mayan Fear links the threat to the 2,000 year old Mayan Calendar's doomsday prophecy, predicted for December 21st of this year.
Thriller writer Steve Alten
consulted with physicists while researching his book and became concerned when at least one scientist agreed with the storyline's threat. "In order to search for the God particle, physicists had to invent a means of re-creating conditions believed to have existed moments after the Big Bang. The Large Hadron Collidor is essentially a $10 billion science experiment that accelerates protons around a 17-mile underground loop, crossing the beams at different locations. Miniature Black Holes are a byproduct of these collisions. In their defense, these physicists claim the black holes are too small and too unstable to grow. But a stranglet is a more stable kind of black hole which could theoretically grow in size as it passes through the LHC chamber into Earth's core. Even if the possibilities are small, these physicists are playing with a potential doomsday scenario -- one similar to what the Mayan Calendar may have prophesied 2,000 years ago."
In 2008, a retired nuclear safety officer sued the LHC for exactly this reason. While a U.S. district judge dismissed the suit, that same year the LHC had to be shutdown when temperatures in one sector of the particle collider began to rise and a ton of liquid helium escaped into one area of the 17-mile tunnel. The mishap followed a previous glitch that occurred one day after the LHC's opening and delayed operations for about a week. In 2009, the particle accelerator overheated when it was invaded by a piece of baguette, apparently dropped by a bird.
In PHOBOS: Mayan Fear, a miniature black hole escapes from the Large Hadron Collider. As it passes back and forth through the planet's magnetic core the stranglet feeds upon protons, its mass and gravitation force expanding. One of the side effects are seismic events - earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. PHOBOS: Mayan Fear vividly details two very frightening real doomsday scenarios triggered by the stranglet: the eruption of the Yellowstone caldera (think two thousand Mount St. Helens) and a thousand-foot-high mega-tsunami unleashed by the landslide eruption of a volcano in the Canary Islands that some scientists believe poses a catastrophic threat to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. As bad as these things sound, Alten saves the very worst for December 21st, 2012.
Watch the PHOBOS: Mayan Fear