Yesterday, a group of LHC critics filed a suit against CERN in the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg . The authors of the suit are physicists, professors and students largely from Germany and Austria, who feel that the operation of the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, poses grave risks for the safety and well-being of the 27 member states of the European Union and their citizens. The Rule of Law, the suit states, is also threatened. The legal arguments that define the legitimacy of the suit appear clear-cut, and have been crafted in German by a well known Professor of International Law, Adrian Hollaender.
The arguments for several major risks that might develop into wholesale disasters are based on papers from various physicists and a risk assessment analyst, whose conclusions will be examined by the court as well as counter-arguments by CERN. It's a question of theories versus theories. The outcome is anyone's guess, but a cogent risk analysis could be the deciding factor. The suit highlights the possible production of Micro Black Holes, which could be a pollution hazard or combine and destroy the LHC. In the worst case, mBH could start consuming the planet, producing dangerous radiation.
MBH are admitted as theoretically possible by CERN. Indeed CERN anticipated large scale production of mBH, but lately has refuted the possibility and denied that they could be produced at the LHC, unless there were extra dimensions as postulated in String Theory. In that case CERN says mBH would be harmless, evaporating quickly due to a theoretical Hawking radiation, though this radiation has not been detected from black holes in space.
Bosenovas are a new risk theory in the suit, besides the better known Strangelets and Lowered Vacuum State theories. Unlike the others there is some experimental evidence for a Bosenova, but this phenomenon of implosion/explosion has only been produced in small groups of atoms of Rubidium-85 in an ultracold state, a Bose-Einstein Condensate.
What might occur at the LHC, is a new type of Bosenova from what amounts to a BEC used there as a coolant, an ultracold Superfluid Helium II, of about 60 metric tonnes in the LHC ring, and a further 60 tonnes of somewhat warmer Superfluid Helium I in refrigeration plants on the surface connected to the subterranean main ring. Whether possible or not is unknown, no experiments having been done by CERN to rule out the possibility, nor any theoretical model studies. The Bosenova risk was first raised in an article by Alan Gillis in the on-line science magazine, ScientificBlogging, July 2, 2008, "Superfluids, BECs and Bosenovas: The Ultimate Experiment".
The first full proton beam injection into the LHC is due September 10th. As further studies and experiments required to assess risks are a long way off, and even a decision on risks as presented by the plaintiffs could take the European Court some time to evaluate, the authors of the suit are asking the court for a speedy granting of Interim Measures. The LHC should be shut-down pending the Court's ruling. The argument that the LHC be limited to no more than 2 TeV energy overall, similar to Fermilab's Tevatron collider design energies, they exclude from the Court's consideration.
A similar suit is before the US court in Hawaii, launched by Dr Walter Wagner and Dr Luis Sancho, against CERN and Fermilab, court in session September 2nd.