It's the end of the world as we know it - and I feel fine!
Two things sent a tingle down my spine recently. Firstly, a rather bumpy landing after a choppy flight across the Irish sea. It was one of those home-comings where applause did not spontaneously break out; instead an eerie silence spread throughout the cabin with passengers stunned that contrary to the laws of physics, the landing gear survived being shoved back up into the undercarriage.
Physics also gave me my second slight cause for concern after a conversation with Prof. Otto Rössler this week at the University of Tübingen. Dr Rössler, on all our behalfs (and for the sake of humanity) took CERN to the European Court of Human Rights to try to stop those mad boffins in Switzerland from switching on the Large Hadron Collider this Wednesday and creating a hungry black hole.
He did not succeed and Strasbourg gave the green light for us all to disappear into a mass of miniature goo (before proceeding onto a case about a failed asylum application).
Now all of this may sound like a sequel to Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". But let me set out the case and real fears that Dr Rössler has ... starting as of this Wednesday.
Black holes. You don't want to get too close to one cos they have a habit of swallowing things. If you can be bothered to delve into a more scientific explanation
see here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_holes
The thing scientists are divided about is this: is it safe to create a black hole - even a mini one - accidently or by design. Some say "yes, cos they just evaporate". Others like Dr Rössler say "no, once you've created one, they grow exponentially". And his worrying vision is that from Wednesday, colliding particles through the 27km of underground tunneling around the CERN site will create a microscopic black hole that will grow in a non-linear way and start to swallow matter from the centre of the earth.
He hypothesizes that after a few weeks satellites above the earth will pick out two beams of light emanating from opposite sides of the globe indicating the presence of newly created black hole at the earth's core.
Seismic activity will increase and after 50 months (and Dr Rössler is quite specific about that) the earth will shrink to a black hole of 2 cm in diameter and the moon will continue
to rotate around the solar system's latest creation. And there I was thinking Britain had problems when we lost the empire!
So bearing all that in mind, I've made a list of things I need to get done before the end of the world (which could be nigh).
1) Pick up my dry-cleaning.
2) Cancel my subscription to the National Enquirer.
3) Write a pompous letter to the Guardian Newspaper complaining about cheap Irish airlines.
Oh and if you want to hear more about Dr Rössler's compelling theories, click here:
title: End of the World: Interview with Dr Rössler length: 2:03 MP3 (1.971MB) | WMA
Or for a more comprehensive explanation of exactly what's going on with the Large Hadron Collider, minus much scare-mongering, listen to Saturday's Reality Check (12-13).