By Lizzie Wade
Back in 2008, physicists repeatedly assured us that a black hole produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was not going to swallow Earth. But that doesn't mean they weren't hoping to make one. Collisions between high energy particles, like the LHC's protons, could theoretically squeeze enough mass and energy into a small enough space to create a tiny black hole—and making one might be a bit easier than physicists believed.
It takes 2.4 times less energy than previously thought to create a black hole from a particle collision, according to a new paper in Physical Review Letters. That's because when two particles smash into each other, their gravitational pull traps energy at two points on either side of the crash site. If enough energy gets concentrated at those points, it collapses into twin black holes that quickly gobble each other up and merge into one, as seen in the simulation above.
Even with the new energy estimates, the chances of making a black hole in a particle accelerator are still vanishingly small. But because spotting one at the relatively low energy of the LHC would be solid experimental evidence for extra dimensions, physicists are keeping their fingers crossed.
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