“CERN’s LHC Will Create a Black Hole That Destroys Earth” -Courts Dismiss ‘Mad Scientist’ Case

Bad_earth Walter Wagner is at it again: but is this the last we'll hear from him? The most recent lawsuit to protest the dangers posed by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, has been dismissed. On 24 August, a Hawaiian appeals court concluded that: "The alleged injury, destruction of the Earth, is in no way attributable to the US government's failure to draft an environmental impact statement," reads the court's decision.

The appeal was brought by Walter Wagner of Hawaii and Luis Sancho of Spain. In 2008, as the LHC was nearing completion, the pair filed a lawsuit in Hawaii's US District Court against CERN and US contributors to the project demanding that they not operate the LHC until they proved it safe. According to the Telegraph, that suit was dismissed via a 24-page ruling.

There are a number of reasons to oppose progress: because you're a Luddite, because your invisible beard-friend in the sky tells you it's wrong, because you're crazy or because you want money.  Walter Wagner's lawsuit against the Large Hadron Collider can be filed under number four (with maybe a dollop of three mixed in).

For the past two years, news sources have breathlessly reported this everyman's struggle against the crazy scientists who'll destroy the world.  Many were too busy with the headline-grabbing "LHC Threatens Planet" to get stuck on the minor details, like the fact Mr Wagner has been indicted for first-degree identity theft and fraud.  Judgements of almost a million dollars have been made against Mr Wagner and three others (including his wife), and we're afraid that outside of a Bond movie criminal activity does not equate with scientific genius.

Mr Wagner bills himself as a "Nuclear Physicist" based on a physics minor at college and some work in a veteran's hospital with nuclear medicine.  By these standards someone who lives by the beach is a qualified lifeguard and if you've ever seen Starship Troopers then congratulations, you're an astronaut!  He's interspersed this time with three years in law school, being a grade-school teacher, and most recently work for a Hawaii botanical center.  Either he's not actually very good at anything or he's the reincarnation of Leonardi DaVinci.

There's also the fact that if any of his disaster scenarios were actually feasible (and some of them are based on him claiming to understand Hawking radiation better than Stephen Hawking), they would have already happened because of the cosmic radiation which kicks hell out of anything we shaved monkeys could actually build.  His formal response to this argument can best be relayed as "neener neener I can't hear you."

Even if he's not a crackpot criminal, anybody smart enough to out-calculate the entire global particle physics community would know that legal action isn't going to achieve a damn thing.  When over eighty countries contribute four-billion-plus dollars to a project, they aren't going to stop it because a law-school dropout says "I think that might be dangerous" from on top of a soapbox he likely stole from his old job.  Any country he could file this lawsuit in paid for part of the project – not that he cares either way.  He's already got what he wants, lots of lovely attention from the more gullible elements of the press.  For an even clearer view of his motives, check out his LHC Defense fund website (linked below) which, we kid you not, asks you for money.  Apparently saving the Earth from those evil scientists who meddle in the unknown requires at least a hundred thousand dollars, presumably in unmarked bills.

The latest ruling will be welcomed by scientists working on the LHC. But for all the bureaucratic headaches caused by the lawsuits, there's a strong argument to be made that Wagner in fact did CERN and the particle physics community a favour by getting the new collider into the public consciousness. 

Posted by Luke McKinney with Casey Kazan


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