Category: Martin Rees

Advances Vs. Consequences: What Does The 21st Century Have In Store For Humanity?

“We now live in a time where the actions of a small group of people ⁠— whether through malicious or benign intentions ⁠— are capable of leading to global catastrophe. It’s not just climate change or the threat of nuclear war that hangs over us; it’s a slew of facts.

It matters that a mass extinction is occurring right now: we’re destroying this planet’s proverbial “book of life” before we’ve even read it.

It matters that computers are permeating ever-increasing facets of our life, as humanity’s recently rising electricity use (after a plateau earlier this decade) is almost entirely due to new computational uses, like cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

It matters that the population is greater than ever before, as managing and distributing the edible food and drinkable water we produce is a greater challenge than ever before.”

Do you like big, sweeping conversations that tackle the biggest existential questions facing our species today? Looking to the larger picture, of humanity’s future on Earth, scientist Martin Rees has written a book detailing the challenges facing our civilization in the 21st century, and is about to deliver a public lecture on the topic of navigating the course that could lead us into a true golden age… or to ruin.

I’ll be live-blogging the lecture with many thoughts to add, and I hope you’ll join me in enjoying it!

For The Last Time: The LHC Will Not Make An Earth-Swallowing Black Hole

“To prevent decay, new, unknown physics — for which no evidence exists — must be invoked.

Even if the newly created black hole were stable, it could not devour the Earth. The maximum rate it could consume matter is 1.1 × 10-25 grams-per-second.

It would take 3 trillion years to grow to a mass of 1 kg.”

Well, it was only a matter of time before someone trotted out the long-debunked claim that the LHC could possibly create an Earth-destroying black hole. I, like most of you, just didn’t expect that person to be the esteemed astronomer Sir Martin Rees!

Well, you’ll be happy to know that not only is his claim untrue, but it’s very easy to demonstrate why. You don’t have to point to cosmic rays (which are more energetic and have struck Earth for billions of years) or rely on anything we haven’t already directly observed. In fact, we can even imagine exotic scenarios that could result in the creation of a black hole, and even then, the Earth is entirely safe.

In less than 200 words, you, too, can learn why the LHC will not make an Earth-swallowing black hole. Sorry, all you armchair supervillains out there.