Now that the politicos are huddling again, this time to come up with a plan that is both workable and politically acceptable, we can consider other topics, like the End of the World.
As you probably know, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, once its helium leak is repaired, is expected to create particles never observed before. The main goal is to find the Higgs boson, which somehow gives other particles their mass. Don’t ask me how it does that.
Another expected event is the creation of black holes. The black holes people commonly think about are massive, sucking whole stars into itself, and generally acting like a bully to anything that comes too near. However, it is possible if subnuclear particles are crushed together strongly enough, to create a submicroscopic black hole. However, its half-life would be so short that it would “evaporate” via Hawking Radiation, before it captures its first particle. (The smaller the particle, the more it radiates.) Now it’s also true that because of quantum uncertainty, anything can happen, including the creation of a black hole large enough to capture particles before it evaporates. The probability of that happening is so low that the mean time for such an event to occur is substantially longer than the age of the universe, which is about 13.7 billion years. Not to worry.
However, it is interesting to consider how such an event would progress. Let’s say that such a particle was created in the LHC, just barely massive enough to survive. Would we know it immediately? I think not. It takes weeks and longer to analyze the data from collisions, and they would not be looking for that particular event. Also, it would just be collecting particles at rate just slightly faster than it was radiating, so at first it might not grow quickly, just a few nuclear fragments at a time.
However the particle would be influenced by gravity, and would fall out of the LCH towards the center of the earth picking up particles as it goes, but we might not know it, except there would be a vacuum leak (not a helium leak, by the way) of some size. When would we notice it? That’s the question I am wondering about. Eventually it would reach the center of the earth, and it could just sit there sucking particles at an exponential rate as it grew. But exponential doesn’t mean fast, especially at first, and we might not know it for a while. Pick your own definition of a while.
The mass of the earth wouldn’t change, but maybe gravitational sensors would eventually notice something was different, that gravity was behaving differently. At some point would the earth become a hollow shell and then collapse suddenly? How long would the process take? Seconds, minutes, years? Remember, it would of necessity start slowly, a few electrons or other particles at a time. Maybe it has already started and we just don’t know it yet.