World probably will not end next Wednesday

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Next Wednesday, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland will switch on the $6 billion Large Hadron Collider, a 27-kilometer particle accelerator that will create physical conditions that haven't existed in the universe since the big bang. It all sounds totally awesome, unless you're one of the very few people who think that the LHC will create a black hole that will expand to consume the planet.

Opponents of the LHC have filed suits in Hawaii and the European Court of Human Rights seeking to prevent the historic experiment, but it's highly unlikely that the court will take action. Scientists involved in the project have also been receiving death threats.

According to a newly released report, naturally occuring cosmic rays regularly produce more powerful collisions than the LHC, so the fact that we're even alive to worry about this is a good sign. Cory Doctorow quotes one physicist saying, "Look, it's a 10^-19 chance, and you've got a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving."

So we can be pretty confident that the end of the world is not coming next Wednesday. But just in case, it's been great blogging for you all.

(Hat tip: Chris Blattman)


South Ossetia recognition watch: Nicaragua stands alone

Russia's campaign to win international recognition for the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia isn't going as well as they may have hoped. So far only Nicaragua, of all places, has signed on. Belarus and Venezuela were both staunch supporters of Russia during the war with Georgia but haven't yet indicated that they intend to recognize the two regions. Moscow will push its case at a meeting of seven former-Soviet republics today in Moscow.

If you're keeping score for the "new cold war" at home, that's Kosovo: 46, South Ossetia and Abkhazia: 2.