I had the opportunity to interview CERN scientist and visiting professor Dr. Mir Faizal from the University of Waterloo on the controversial subject of black holes, using the Hadron Collider to create them, and future discoveries.
1. What is a black hole?
The black hole is an object whose gravity is so strong that nothing can escape its gravity. These objects have very interesting properties. For example, if your friend decides to commit suicide by going inside a black hole. Guess when you (sitting outside) will see him cross the black hole. Actually, you will actually never see him get inside the black hole. You will only see him slow down as he approaches it. This is because for you (sitting outside), it takes an infinite amount of time for your friend to cross the black hole, but for him (travelling towards a black hole) it only takes a finite amount of time to go inside a black hole.
2. What is the Large Hadron Collider at CERN ? What does it do?
It is the largest particle collider in the world, and it collides particles at very high energy. It comprises of a tunnel 27 kilometres in circumference which lies on the France-Switzerland border near Geneva, Switzerland. This way we know what are the laws of physics that describe the nature at those energies.
3. What are some future ideas that might be tested that are important for scientific progress or discovery that can be made?
There are various things that could be detected. These could include new particles, including possibly a particle for dark matter. Extra dimensions can also be detected and one of the most interesting things that can be detected is that mini black holes can exist. We also expect such detections can conform certain modifications to Einstein's theory of general relativity, and this can have consequences on explaining the occurrence of big bang theory. The existence of extra dimensions would also be a strong indicator of the existence of parallel universes.
4. There is some fear that if a black hole is produced, it could ultimately pull the whole of human reality in it with it? Is it possible? Is it true? (Eventually, all of Earth would fall into such growing micro-black-hole, converting Earth into a medium-sized black hole, around which would continue to orbit the moon, satellites, the ISS, etc.) -- Business Insider UK
First of all, conventional black holes will finish very fast by a process called Hawking radiations. However, there are modifications to general relativity that predict the existence of stable black holes, and these small black holes remnants. These black hole remnants would be stable and not finish off like conventional black holes. However, it is not likely that they possess any serious threat to earth. Earth has been bombarded by cosmic rays for a very long time, and it still exists. Also, since we do not observe stars, astronomical bodies suddenly disappear, even though they are bombarded by cosmic rays. So it seems that these fears are not justified.
5. Could you explain Einstein's relativity.
Basically, time flows at a different rate on the floor of a room than its roof, and even though this difference in the flow of time is so small that we do not notice it directly, it is the reason things fall down from the roof to the floor. In formal terms, Einstein's theory of relativity says that gravity is nothing but curving of space and time.
6. Does the possibility of the existence of a black hole defend Einstein's theory of relativity? Why is this important?
Usually, modification to Einstein's theory of relativity predict that mini black holes can be detected at the energy scale at which CERN will collide particles now. So if mini black holes are detected then we will know that such modifications to Einstein's theory of relativity are correct. We have used such a modification of Einstein's theory of relativity, and this theory is called gravity's rainbow. It predicts that we should detect mini black holes at CERN. So if the mini black holes are detected, we will know that gravity's rainbow is the correct modification of Einstein's theory of relativity.
7. Please define gravity's rainbow.
This is a new theory of gravity. It predicts that gravity affects particles of different energies in a different way. This theory also predicts that there is a maximum energy beyond, and it is not possible to have an energy beyond this energy. This has direct implications for the physics of black holes.
8. If a black hole can be created how does it change what we can do as the human race? What are both the positive's and negatives of being able to create black holes?
Well if mini black holes are produced, then we will know that extra dimensions exist. Now if extra dimensions exist, then our universe can be a sheet in those extra dimensions, and other such sheets can also exist in them. So we will know parallel universes exist. This will again make us realize how small we are compared to what exists out there. It will be another big step in our understanding. Many people in the past thought our planet was the center of solar system, and then it was confirmed that Earth is just another planet in the solar system. The next step came when we understood that the sun is only a star in our galaxy, and our Milky Way is only a galaxy in our universe. The next step should be that we realize that our universe is only a universe in the multiverse.
9. What's next? If black holes can be made, what else will CERN be working on?
Well, there are a lot of things that can be known at CERN. These range from new particles to mini black holes. However, the most important thing is that we are looking at the unknown and we really do not know with certainty what we will find. So we can find something totally unexpected and interesting.