Doomsday Versus Discovery

Sunday, February 21, 2010: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Room 10 (San Diego Convention Center)
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland, is the world’s largest machine for scientific discovery. Buried 100 meters below Switzerland and France, the LHC will collide particles at never-before-seen energies in the hopes of revealing a new world of fundamental particles and forces and revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. The LHC’s status as the world’s largest accelerator, and its scientific potential, have attracted the attention of scientists, journalists, and critics from around the world. Criticisms of the LHC that focus on its possible dangers -- so-called “doomsday scenarios” -- have been well publicized by the news media, despite independent studies proving the safety of the accelerator. News reports and independent Web sites have fuelled suspicion and fear among the general public, culminating in two lawsuits seeking to halt operation of the accelerator. This session will investigate the discovery versus doomsday debate from three viewpoints: a physicist, a journalist, and a philosopher and historian of science.
Renilde Vanden Broeck, CERN
Katie Yurkewicz, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
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