At the Large Hadron Collider, very high-energy particle beams collide during experiments. Could such events give rise to black holes?
Some ordinary people believe that physicists “do not understand what they are doing” at their colliders, because in experiments black holes may appear that will swallow the planet. In fact, to date, it has not been possible to detect the appearance of even a quantum black hole.
Black holes form in space when stars with a mass of more than a dozen solar masses collapse at the end of their lives and concentrate a very large amount of matter in a very small space. The resulting objects are so dense that their gravitational attraction prevents light from entering them beyond the event horizon.
The assumptions about black holes in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are not groundless, but they relate to the so-called quantum black holes. They can be formed when pairs of protons collide, but physicists are not sure of the existence of such objects. The creation of a quantum black hole at the LHC would be not only very unexpected, but also very exciting. This would allow physicists to learn about the most elusive force of nature – gravity.
The creation of a black hole in the LHC would confirm the theory that our universe is not 4-dimensional (3 space plus 1 time dimension), but indeed contains other dimensions. Just as the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics revolutionized our thinking, the discovery of the existence of extra dimensions would be a major new milestone in our understanding of the universe.
But, as we noted at the beginning, there is no evidence that even quantum black holes can arise from particle collisions in a collider. Remember: particle collisions in physical experiments and in nature have been happening continuously for many years. However, we are still alive, and not a single black hole has swallowed our planet. So there is nothing to worry about.