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Upon waking last Wednesday morning, I immediately noticed my desk and most of my wardrobe were missing. After I pieced together an outfit — American flag tennis shorts and a sequined apron — I called up ASU physics professor Richard Lebed, who is my usual contact in such situations.

I already had a theory, which I explained to Professor Lebed. It involved the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator in Switzerland which I knew had just been fired up.

For weeks, I had been worrying about miniature black holes, strangelets and a handful of other unpronounceable phenomena that could wipe us out like dry erase ink.

Professor Lebed corrected me on a number of points. First off, I had been transposing the third and fourth letters in “Hadron,” pronouncing it as a rather embarrassing anagram. More importantly, I had only a miniscule understanding of the scientific intricacies of the LHC, and therefore my assumption that it could usher in the end of days was ill informed.

For one thing, although the machine was turned on, the technicians still had some fiddling to do before particles actually started smashing into one another. While my desk and clothing may have blinked out of existence, it was not because of the Large Hadron Collider.

I also had no need to worry about what would happen once the particles started colliding, said Lebed. While some models predict the collisions “might create tiny black holes as one of their byproducts,” the idea that these could “do what big black holes do, which is grow and swallow up everything,” is implausible.

Instead, if tiny black holes are created at all, they will quickly “evaporate, decaying into plain old radiation.”

Other fears of mine were equally unfounded. Strangelets “are a hypothetical state of nuclear matter more stable than protons and neutrons,” which could convert ordinary atomic nuclei into more stranglets.

Thus, says this theory, a chain reaction could be set in motion which would convert the entire planet into these particles.

But if strangelets in fact exist — and no one yet knows whether they do or not — then they’ve already been created somewhere out in space, since the type of collisions the LHC replicates happen for real out in the cosmos. So, if they were truly a danger, we would have been swallowed up long ago.

Thanking the professor for his information and patience with my ignorance, I said I was glad for the physics lesson but nevertheless my objective had not been met; my desk and clothes were still gone.

Lebed consoled me on this fact, but nevertheless said he could offer no help — oh, the limits of science!

So anyway, once the LHC is fully functioning, there is no reason to cry out in fear or go on a hedonistic last-day-on-Earth spree. Instead, do your best to learn about all the cool things scientists are doing instead of fretting over your doom.

And keep an eye on your stuff.

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