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What exactly is a strangelet? And how is it dangerous?

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Can somebody please explain to me what exactly a strangelet is? I keep reading about this ridiculous "Doomsday Lawsuit" that a couple of extremist publicity hounds are filing against CERN, claiming that the Large Hadron Collider will produce black holes, strangelets and magnetic monopoles which will , and I quote "Destroy the Earth and possibly the universe as well". I know generally what a strangelet is, but not how it could possibly wipe out the Earth. And also, how the heck would a magnetic monopole destroy the Earth? Since a monopole is basically just a magnet with only one pole (or at least analogous to).

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IIRC it's some composite particle made of a strange, up and down quarks in equal numbers... So it's probably a Baryon of 3 quarks. It's dangerous because supposedly if it comes into contact with other matter it can convert it into other strangelets... I'm not well versed in the mechanics of it at all though.


As far as I know there is nothing to do with magnetic monopoles though.


And black holes have been dealt with in a few other threads on the forums...



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  • 2 months later...

"An atom which came into contact with such a strangelet would be stripped of its electrons by e+e¡ annihilation. The exposed nucleus would then be absorbed by the ever growing strangelet. This process would continue until all available material had been converted to strange matter. We know of no

barrier to the rapid growth of a dangerous strangelet." :eek:


Review of Speculative Disaster Scenarios at RHIC


oh... this is just theory anyway, not just in the RHIC examination. They are totally sure it can't possibly happen. The above is just the reason people get nervous about it. Hey, they weren't sure the nuclear reactions from the first Atom Bomb would stop before consuming the world. Wow!

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I think there was also some concern about sustained hydrogen fusion in sea water regarding the underwater H-bomb test(s?)... Anyway, people sure like to be afraid of the unknown. My little sister always worries about all sorts of diseases and catastrophies, a few days back I was joking about the LHC killing us all and she was sort of half-listening and said "the what?" at which point I said something like "err, nothing" and left the room. ;) Even back when I got my first radioactive mineral chunk I tried to explain to her how it posed no danger especially if it's in a protective box but she didn't really listen to the science behind it since she knew some radiation was dangerous.


Regarding the magnetic monopole matter, I think there have been some claims that it could pull matter apart somehow due to "uneven" magnetic fields or something. But magnetic monopoles are really interesting particles of practically no danger at all and scientists are really trying to find them since they are predicted by so many theories.

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