Hawking Radiation

There is something I haven’t been able to get regarding Hawking radiation and I think the scientific community, by trying to create black holes in a particle accelerator, might be making a serious mistake. Hawking radiation isn’t a proved phenomena, it is only theoretical, and if it turns out not to exist, or not to work as expected, then we’re potentially in a world of hurt.

Here is what I don’t get about it. Hawking radiation works like this. A virtual particle pair forms right at the event horizon. One particle in the pair is sucked into the black hole, the other escapes and becomes real. This results in radiation from the black hole and theory has it decreases the mass of the black hole.

There seems to me to be some assumptions here that I’m not so comfortable with. The first is that if a virtual particle in a virtual particle/anti-particle pair can’t unite with it’s mate, it becomes real. The second is that the other virtual particle, being sucked into the black hole, will somehow decrease the mass of the black hole.

I understand the thinking, conservation of mass, in order for that to be upheld, since radiation, matter / energy is “leaving” the black hole, it must decrease in mass. But nothing actually “left” the black hole, what left was a virtual particle created at the event horizon.

So, scientists are counting on these tiny black holes they hope to create in a particle accelerator to evaporate via Hawking radiation. But what if one of these assumptions is wrong? They don’t get smaller in mass or Hawking radiation doesn’t happen? Then they’re going to keep sucking up surrounding matter and growing in mass until the whole planet is sucked in and we’re all dead. This sounds like a pretty high risk scientific experiment to me. The kind of experiment that if we have to do it we should be doing it somewhere in deep space.

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ve read that when scientists set of the first hydrogen bomb, they really weren’t sure if it wouldn’t detonate all the hydrogen in the water vapor in the atmosphere. We’re all here, so apparently it didn’t. I’m all for the advancement of science, but I question the wisdom of risking the entire human race on these types of experiments.

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