Statement on Committee Review of Speculative "Disaster Scenarios" at Brookhaven Lab's RHIC

October 6, 1999

Brookhaven National Laboratory has posted on its Web site a report by expert physicists who recently reviewed speculative disaster scenarios at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

The report summarizes technical discussions that conclude there is no danger of a "disaster" at RHIC.

In July 1999, Brookhaven Lab Director John Marburger convened a committee of distinguished physicists to write a comprehensive report on the arguments that address the safety of each of the speculative disaster scenarios at RHIC. The scenarios are:

- Creation of a black hole that would "eat" ordinary matter.

- Initiation of a transition to a new, more stable universe.

- Formation of a "strangelet" that would convert ordinary matter to a new form.

"We conclude that there are no credible mechanisms for catastrophic scenarios at RHIC," said committee chair Robert Jaffe, Professor of Physics and Director, Center for Theoretical Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Accordingly, we see no reason to delay RHIC operation."

Added Brookhaven Director Marburger, "Nature has been creating collisions of energies comparable to those at RHIC for billions of years, and there is no evidence of any kind of disaster related to those collisions. RHIC does not take us beyond the limits of natural phenomena. It brings a rare phenomenon into the view of our instruments so we can puzzle out its inner workings."

On October 4, Brookhaven Lab celebrated the commissioning of RHIC, the world's newest and biggest particle accelerator for nuclear physics research. All together, close to 1,000 scientists from 90 research institutions representing 19 countries will be working on RHIC experiments.

The committee report can be viewed at  NOTE: This is a PDF file. You must have the Adobe Acrobat reader installed in order to open it. The Acrobat reader is available here for free. If you have trouble opening the file, please see this page for a list of common solutions.


Mona S. Rowe
Media and Communications Office
Brookhaven National Laboratory
PH: 516 344-5056


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