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Are there experiments that are banned from being done at the LHC because they are too dangerous?

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Well, a lot of effort goes into not testing how long users can be in the experimental halls while the beam is on and live through the experience. – dmckee Oct 7 '12 at 21:34
On a side note, the people who work on/at the LHC would be very definite that they don't do nuclear physics. It's particle physics all the way; and the high energy variety at that. – dmckee Oct 7 '12 at 21:36
See, for instance, In general, no man made collider can hope to challenge the natural experiments regularly carried out by ultra-high energy cosmic rays. Statistically, anything bad that could happen at a few TeV has already happened, so nothing bad can happen at a few TeV. – dmckee Oct 7 '12 at 21:43
@MattReece Not at the LHC. They are heavily into gluon plasma etc . But at Isolde, yes . – anna v Oct 8 '12 at 4:04
@MattReece It is really about energy range of the physics you study. At high energies nuclear dynamics are simply lost in the noise. Nuclear physics dominates from a few keV up to a few hundred MeV. The transition regime--where it depends on just what physics you are interested in--is hundreds of MeV through perhaps 10 GeV. Above that it is pretty much all particle physics because you just aren't sensitive to the structure or dynamics of the nucleus anymore and instead just see the nucleons and (mostly, or entirely at higher energies) partons. – dmckee Oct 8 '12 at 20:30

I won't discuss issues of mini black holes, strangelets, and so on. I would like to emphasize though that LHC, like any major industrial facility (LHC is not an industrial facility, but it certainly has industrial scale), has some serious safety risks:

dmckee mentioned radiation, but the beam itself is not the only source of risk; the superconducting magnets also present some significant risks, as they also contain a great amount of energy. In principle, this energy can be released during, e.g., a quench event (transition of superconductors to a normal state), producing explosions, damaging helium vessels, and so on.

It is my understanding that safety is a paramount concern at LHC. The following report covering the notorious incident at LHC may be of interest: Report on 080919 incident at LHC , in particular, the report says:

"The technical parameters of the LHC are beyond precedent, and the energy stored in the superconducting magnets huge. Consequently, operation of this machine will always comprise a certain technical risk."

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...and OHD issues and all the usual rigging risks (bit of the accelerator and the detectors weight tens of tons and have to be moved), and high voltages, and, and, and ... . Yeah, the risks are always there. – dmckee Oct 7 '12 at 22:18
@Dilaton: I am not saying that LHC should not have built and operated, and I agree that our life is impossible without some risks. I wanted to emphasize that providing safety at LHC is a challenging task requiring a lot of effort. Let us hope that there will be no major incidents there. – akhmeteli Oct 7 '12 at 22:51
@dmckee: do you mean ODH - oxygen deficiency hazards? – akhmeteli Oct 7 '12 at 23:01
@MartinBeckett. ::chortle:: I've worked on collaborations where sitting data collection shifts was a non-negotiable requirement for authorship---even for the theorists. It was critically important for the shift leader (usually a grad student) to know when these guys were coming so that they could look out for them. Mind you, it was worth shooting the breeze with them because they always had a wonderfully different view of the experiment. – dmckee Oct 9 '12 at 21:47
@dmckee - no I mean stopping my head of dept from leaping over a safety gate to where he "thought" a lift platform was. His excuse - the gate wouldn't open. That's because it doesn't open if the lift platform isn't at this level - it stops you stepping off the top of the experiment and falling 20m! The number of senior profs whose first reaction is to bend down to look straight into any sort of beamline/laser/etc cavity is stunning. – Martin Beckett Oct 9 '12 at 23:48


Concerning mini black holes for example, that would evaporate in the course of a Planck time anyway, you would need a linear accelerator of the size of a galaxy to produce them as Lenny Susskind explains for example.

Any claims that the experiments done at the LHC are dangerous are blatant nonsense spread by people who just wanted to get their minute of fame, media that misunderstood what serious physicists said or dishonestly distorted it in order to better sell their stories etc, ... Nobody should listen to such sensationalist screams of people who have no idea what they are talking about.

Nevertheless, there is an article about the safety of the LHC wherein the (non existing) danger of mini black holes, strangelets, magnetic monopoles, or whatelse you have probably heared about, is scientifically confuted. It is adressed at the concerned public and you can read it here. In addition, if any of these phenomena discussed in this report could be discovered at the LHC, this would be a reason for celebrations and dishing out some Nobels, since it would experimentally confirm cool new physics and support theoretical ideas people are thinking about.

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protected by Manishearth May 19 '13 at 7:29

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