Scientists Not So Sure 'Doomsday Machine' Won't Destroy World
Still worried that the Large Hadron Collider will create a black hole that will destroy the Earth when it's finally switched on this summer?
Um, well, you may have a point.
Artist's conception of a black hole
Three physicists have reexamined the math surrounding the creation of microscopic black holes in the Switzerland-based LHC, the world's largest particle collider, and determined that they won't simply evaporate in a millisecond as had previously been predicted.
Rather, Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and Sergio Fabi and Benjamin Harms of the University of Alabama say mini black holes could exist for much longer — perhaps even more than a second, a relative eternity in particle colliders, where most objects decay much faster.
Under such long-lived conditions, it becomes a race between how fast a black hole can decay — and how fast it can gobble up matter to grow bigger and prevent itself from decaying.
Casadio, Fabi and Harms think the black hole would lose out, and pass through the Earth or out of the atmosphere before it got to be a problem.
"We conclude that ... the growth of black holes to catastrophic size does not seem possible. Nonetheless, it remains true that the expected decay times are much longer (and possibly >> 1 second) than is typically predicted by other models," the three state in a brief paper posted at the scientific discussion Web site ArXiv.org.
FoxNews.com can think of a few other things that didn't seem possible once — the theory of continental drift, the fact that rocks fall from the sky, the notion that the Earth revolves around the sun, the idea that scientists could be horribly wrong.
We're also wondering how often the LHC might create individual black holes, since longer-lived ones have a greater chance of merging with each other, and, um, well, see ya.
If the worst comes to pass, and there's now a slightly greater chance that it might, at least it might explain why we've never heard from extraterrestrial civilizations: Maybe they built Large Hadron Colliders of their own.
A 22-year-old woman is selling her virginity online — offering her body to bidders nationwide in an auction that reportedly has netted a $3.7 million offer — and the law isn't doing a thing to stop her.
The FBI isn't interested. The U.S. attorney doesn't care. Everything is fine by local police, and she isn't breaking any laws.
That's because Natalie Dylan, a made-up name for a real 22-year-old California college grad, is marketing her maidenhead in Nevada, where prostitution is legal.
But some religious legal groups are objecting to the sexual sale, saying they are concerned that its influence may reach beyond the borders of the "Battle Born" bordello state.
"It does seem crazy," said Mathew Staver, director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy. "The rest of the country has an interest in stopping that kind of activity from spreading from Nevada to their home state."
Staver said because the bidding was being conducted online, federal law could be applied to stop the auction from going through.
"Nevada has been out of step with the rest of the country for many years with regards to prostitution, and that's why I think it's important for federal prosecutors to look into this, so that Nevada does not dictate the morals and moral decency for the rest of the nation," Staver told FOXNews.com.
But federal authorities said there wasn't much they could do about the case, and deflected attention toward local statutes.
"Being that prostitution is legal in the area that she's listing from, and she's over 18 and it's consensual, I would defer it to local police authorities," said David Staretz, a spokesman for the FBI's Las Vegas field office.
The Postal Inspection Service, which monitors the Internet for some illegal transactions, is "currently unaware of any specific fed prohibition against this activity," said spokesman Al Weissman.
The office of the U.S. attorney in Nevada said that it has prosecuted over 200 cases in the last six years involving the solicitation of minors online, but it had never worked on a case like this involving adults.
The Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the brothel that is arranging and hosting the deal, sounded especially gung-ho about Dylan.
"Natalie is a virgin and would like to sell this priceless and rare commodity in a very exclusive and private setting," says the Bunny Ranch Web site.
While the commodity's rarity may be debatable, more than 10,000 bidders have come forth to put a price tag on Dylan's purity. And if the Bunny Ranch's owner is to be believed, someone has offered $3.7 million, a price far above rubies.
"One time only she will appear at the bunny ranch and give up her virginity to the highest bidder," says the brothel's Web site in a needlessly repetitive statement. Dylan says she is trying to finance graduate studies for her sister and herself.
Some legal experts say they're well within their rights to make the sale.
"It's a First Amendment issue. You can advertise goods or services that are illegal where they're advertised but legal where they're performed," said Marc Randazza, an attorney specializing in first amendment law. "What's she's advertising is as legal as toast with the crust cut off where she is."
Randazza said some prosecutors might be eager to jump on the case, but that this "commercial speech" is protected.
"If this is legal where it's being advertised" — in Nevada — "the government can't say you can't advertise it here," he told FOXNews.com.