NEWS

Editorial: Perspective on black-hole economy

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The news on Wall Street has been grim: High foreclosure rates, a credit crunch and the failure of massive American financial institutions could plunge the U.S. into a deep and lengthy recession.

Still, compared to what's going to happen underground at a European research facility, our economic uncertainty seems pretty tame. Thousands of scientists working on a giant particle accelerator want to smash protons together at extreme velocities, an experiment that a few critics

We suppose the value of our stock portfolios won't matter if the planet gets sucked into an abyss from which even light cannot escape.

The source of that angst is the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile machine at the France-Switzerland border more than 300 feet below ground. The multibillion-dollar collider is the world's largest particle accelerator; scientists hope experiments conducted there will educate us as to how the universe works, such as what happened immediately after the Big Bang.

We appreciate that any great discovery - like any great investment - involves a certain degree of risk. For our part, Illinois already is home to a large particle accelerator, Fermilab in Batavia, and we've not seen any errant quarks floating around.

But much like economics, physics is highly theoretical. Who knows what's going to happen when the theorists start pushing buttons? The rest of us more down-to-earth folks just get to hold on to our hats. So hold on.

Peoria Journal Star