Conspiracy Theories around the "Presidential Alert"

Noted conspiracy theorist John McAfee tweeted:

The "Presidential alerts": they are capable of accessing the E911 chip in your phones -- giving them full access to your location, microphone, camera and every function of your phone. This not a rant, this is from me, still one of the leading cybersecurity experts. Wake up people!

This is, of course, ridiculous. I don't even know what an "E911 chip" is. And -- honestly -- if the NSA wanted in your phone, they would be a lot more subtle than this.

RT has picked up the story, though.

(If they just called it a "FEMA Alert," there would be a lot less stress about the whole thing.)

Posted on October 4, 2018 at 3:03 PM • 52 Comments

Comments

DougOctober 4, 2018 3:10 PM

And it appears that if you've disabled amber alerts, you don't get these either.

TyOctober 4, 2018 3:12 PM

That's not true on iPhones, at least. I can disable Amber Alerts and federal alerts separately. I've had Amber Alerts disabled since day 1 and still received the test message yesterday.

Vesselin BontchevOctober 4, 2018 3:27 PM

1) There is no E911 chip.

2) McAfee is a narcissistic, self-advertising, incompetent egomaniac. I'm not even mentioning drugs, since he has been this from the day I've known him, in 1989. Anything he says is either

a) a lie
b) complete nonsense
c) a way to drum up public attention to his persona
d) a way to profit
e) all of the above.

Mark J. BlairOctober 4, 2018 3:48 PM

Ty is correct about iPhones. I have an iPhone 8 running iOS 11.4.1. I have disabled both "AMBER Alerts" and "Emergency Alerts" in the Notifications settings, and my phone was in "Do Not Disturb" mode during the test. The silent mode switch was in the normal not-silent position, and my phone was in a dock in my truck, playing a podcast through the stereo. I received the test message with both the pop-up banner and the loud audible alert.

Unfortunately I hadn't heard any of the advance notice about the test, so it came as an unwelcome surprise while I was driving. The loud alert, prompting me to look at the screen to figure out what the heck was going on and how to make it stop, did not please me. I'm glad that I was able to shut the phone up without causing a traffic accident.

I wonder if anybody here knows whether iOS honors the physical silent mode switch for these alerts?

Denis GoddardOctober 4, 2018 3:58 PM

I got the alert on my iPhone, despite having turned off all AMBER and government alerts. This exercise has made me all the more excited to get a Purism Libre 5 phone. I look forward to actually owning and being in control of my phone, for the first time.

JohnOctober 4, 2018 4:20 PM

I have an iPhone 5s with amber alerts disabled and emergency alerts disabled. The silent mode switch was in the silent position and the phone was connected to my car audio system (not playing, just connected). When the alert came through, the phone switched the car audio over to blue tooth like there was an incoming call and chirped, then switched back to normal and vibrated for the duration of the event. It was startling and I did have to look at the phone while driving to see what was going on.

Karl KoscherOctober 4, 2018 4:32 PM

Some background on why this is called a "Presidential Alert":

The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system (formerly known as CMAS, or Commercial Mobile Alert system) is an extension of the old Emergency Alert System (EAS). EAS, in turn, was an update of the old Emergency Broadcast System, which itself had its origins in CONELRAD. Under EAS, Emergency Action Notifications (EANs) are intended to be used only by the president to address the nation in an emergency (e.g., impending nuclear ICBM strike) if all else fails.

The WARN Act of 2006 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/109th-congress/house-bill/5785/text), which established WEA and IPAWS (the Internet system used to disseminate these alerts), has a provision in it which states, "Any licensee electing to participate in the transmission of National Alert System alerts may offer subscribers the capability of preventing the subscriber’s device from receiving alerts broadcast by the system other than an alert issued by the President."

The FCC regulations (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2008/07/24/E8-16853/commercial-mobile-alert-system) implementing the WARN Act establish three levels of alerts: Presidential, Imminent Threat, and Child Abduction/AMBER. The message type is encoded as a few bits -- there was no option for FEMA to call it anything other than a "Presidential Alert" if they wanted to test that functionality.

As for an "E911 chip," it is probably true that back in the day some phones had an extra GPS chip to enable E911. But now that GPS is a ubiquitous feature of smartphones, there's no extra "E911 chip." The cellular network can query your location using RRLP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_resource_location_services_protocol), LPP, or SUPL (see http://www.rohde-schwarz-wireless.com/documents/LTELBSWhitePaper_RohdeSchwarz.pdf for details). However, this has nothing to do with how these emergency alerts are broadcast. In LTE, they are sent as a dedicated System Information Block (other SIBs include things like the network and cell identify, network configuration parameters, etc.) In GSM, they are sent over the Cell Broadcast Channel. In either case, it's a limited broadcast channel. You do not even have to be attached to the network to receive these alerts.

ChelloveckOctober 4, 2018 4:34 PM

The Presidential Alert is not blocked by either the AMBER Alert or Emergency Alert switches. It's designed to not be blockable. If you've rooted your phone you can possibly do so, but no carrier-provided firmware is going to have that capability.

@Mark J. Blair: Yes, the iPhone physical silent mode switch is honored. I keep my phone set to silent and all I heard was the vibration.

Agreed that calling it "FEMA Alert" or anything other than "Presidential Alert" would have greatly reduced the conspiracy theories. Just remember, it was designed and named long before the current President with his penchant for Twitter rants took office.

NameOctober 4, 2018 4:46 PM

Jeez sheeple, just relax. These 'Presidential Alerts' are leaking only last week's 'nuclear football' codes. (but #PizzagateIsReal Catch!)

Craig WelchOctober 4, 2018 5:01 PM

I was in France at the time of the alert. My US iPhone did not signal anything at all.

lurkerOctober 4, 2018 5:37 PM

I've got a well-known [Security Alert] Chinese brand phone, and I live in New Zealand. I never got round to digging so deep into the settings to turn off this alert. Last year our Civil Defence authorities thought it would be a good idea to test the system for use in future as a Tsunami warning. My phone received the test and popped up a message on screen headed "Presidential Alert" followed by a block of text in a typeface and layout that I had come to associate with script kiddies. My first reaction was WTF? followed later by Whatever...

echoOctober 4, 2018 5:40 PM

This is an appallingly slow exfiltration device for the Whitehouse Russian chefs. Let's also hope the current or future POTUS doesn't get their SMS wires crossed. Hands up who didn't post a personal email to usenet when it was still a thing?

HorndogOctober 4, 2018 6:32 PM

"In either case, it's a limited broadcast channel. You do not even have to be attached to the network to receive these alerts."

How is that possible? Or rather, what do you mean by attached? If my phone is on but I am in airplane mode will I still get an alert?

Karl KoscherOctober 4, 2018 7:31 PM

@Horndog:

By "attached," I mean that the phone has requested access to the network, and the network has granted access. On LTE phones, this requires a valid SIM card. (Networks will also let you anonymously attach to make a 911 call.) But there are many reports of people receiving the alerts on inactive phones without a SIM card. Since these alerts are sent on broadcast channels, the phone does not have to communicate back to the tower at all to receive them.

If your phone is in airplane mode, the cellular radio is off, so it will not receive these alerts.

ALOctober 5, 2018 1:53 AM

I'm not so inundated with these alerts that it presents a problem. If they become an alternative to the President's Twitter feed, then I'm going to have a problem.

In the meanwhile, I'm fine with testing and using new technology to keep people on their toes if some kind of problem develops.

David HOctober 5, 2018 3:21 AM

Could have sworn that advance notice was given of this test of the EAS/Presidential Alert after Hurricane Florence. I wasn't at all surprised to receive the test message.

noneOctober 5, 2018 3:36 AM

lineageOS builds for Android, last I checked, allowed turning off Presidential Alerts.
Yet another reason to root phones and install custom ROMs (ad-blockers are the other).

Gunter KönigsmannOctober 5, 2018 5:25 AM

If he has confused E911 (the system that makes you end up in a semi-local emergency department if you call 911) with the "silent SMS" the police can use for roughly finding out where a given SIM card is if it is currently connected to the phone network?

AlejandroOctober 5, 2018 6:07 AM

In January Hawaiian emergency personnel sent out an alert message reading,

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII.
SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

Oh well, stuff happens.

Clive RobinsonOctober 5, 2018 6:44 AM

@ All,

Whilst John MacAfee might appear as mad as two unhappy ferrets fighting in a sack, what he says is often based on a degree of reality most of us chose to not think about.

For instance, from the above quote @Bruce gives, this bit is effectively true,

    giving them full access to your location, microphone, camera and every function of your phone.

It's actually in the likes of the GSM standard and the underlying standards they are built on.

Almost always such things get "finessed" past standards committees via the old "Health and safety" trick. In essence you use FUD to give more weight than is deserved to risks that support your real aims, you then sell the solution you want.

Have a look at the history of why nearly every mobile phone has a GPS chip in it that can be accessed "in an emergancy" and the mechanism by which it is implemented in that "bugging device in your pocket". Likewise how the operator can "listen in" "in an emergancy" and how yes the microphone can be turned on "in an emergancy".

This knobble the standards game has been going on long long before anyone ever thought up mobile phones, certainly back even prior to WWII and the ability to do it was there from almost day one which is why in 1888 Almon Strowger an undertaker by profession thought up the first automatic telephone exchange...

There are often quite funny assides in this mainly secret war. One of which was the development of the harmonica bug. Allegedly built for the Maffia so they could bug the FBI... The story goes that the Emanuel "Manny" Mittleman invented it for the Maffia and then went into business selling it to spouses of cheaters and those doing a little industrial espionage. Then even the Government came knocking via the CIA and FBI...

You can read up a bit on it in an article in a gentlemans magazine from the mid 1960's put on line here by a more modern company,

http://www.bugsweeps.com/info/esquire_5-66.html

Also called an infinity bug, mote modern versions actually use the "caller line ID" to activate the bug. Likewise the software hidden on some mobile phones. For the reason it's dull/boring and you can easily look it up, I will not go into why mobile phones usually do not start ringing untill after the caller line ID has been sent to the phone[1] all you need to understand is it gives a "window of opportunity" to an attacker. It's also why you occasionally get the "spooky effect" where you press to dial a number and instead the phone answers an incoming call before the phone has rung or the display has come up.

No I do not know why McAfee called it "the E911 chip" but I would guess it's "group slang", you often get as a technical short hand. You will find mention of it on the internet in often semi closed or darknet groups within sentances like,

    Will the phone contain any government spying and remote control chip such as the e911 chip is required by USA law?

When people are talking about trying to get phones not destined for the US market from abroad. Or even more dramatically,

https://imgur.com/gallery/IXBkqGQ

However the "Enhanced 911" protocol and system certainly exists[2] by US legislation, but it is mainly about the call routing on the back haul to a class four facilitie where the caller location and other information John mentioned can be accessed.

However the "Presedential alert" apparently uses a diferent but not unrelated protocol[3] (WEA/WES which is part of EAS). If the two protocols can be connected together or not I have no idea, I've not had reason to look into it or do research. But fundementaly there is no reason they can not. Because at the air interface level they use the same method as "silent texts" used for updating phones other functions such as the default service provider display on "non smart" phones and facilitate OTA downloads into the phone side firmware and SIM.

The mechanism goes by various names but "cell broadcast"[4] is popular in the press though officialy ETSI say it's the "Short Message Service-Cell Broadcast" (SMS-CB). It's actually been in mobile phones for a very long time since 2G atleast and thus predates the idea of extending the much older EAS system for Radio and Televison to the now more ubiquitous "mobile phones".

[1] However it's easy to demonstrate the time delay exists. Just get an AM radio that makes horible grinding noises when you go near it with a mobile actually in a call. Then with the mobile phone in waiting mode, dial it from a land line or other mobile. The grinding noise will go on for a second or so before the phone starts to ring and you can clearly hear it from the radio before the mobile it's self starts to ring, or the display changes.

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_9-1-1

[3] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Emergency_Alerts

[4] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_Broadcast

wumpusOctober 5, 2018 7:43 AM

Somewhere in here there is a "in Soviet Russia, we have ways of making you listen to us talk" joke.

echoOctober 5, 2018 10:14 AM

No I do not know why McAfee called it "the E911 chip" but I would guess it's "group slang", you often get as a technical short hand. You will find mention of it on the internet in often semi closed or darknet groups within sentances like,

This is what I thought. There are genuine abuse of the system concerns whether for political or other reasons. This obviosly requires research at the technical and legislative level.

John McAfee is wild but I would be happy with his breed of insanity than pot stirring hate mongers like Alex Jones who is something else entirely.

RealFakeNewsOctober 5, 2018 10:59 AM

McAfee may be nuts but it doesn't mean what he says is untrue.

Is he saying Presidential Alerts can carry control codes that can activate these things?

Further up there is discussion of reception of broadcast messages, but can it fundamentally be used as a control channel specifically? I'm guessing the other two levels do not get this privileged access?

"It may be paranoia, but it doesn't mean they're not after you."

Gunter KönigsmannOctober 5, 2018 1:04 PM

I thin McAffee is wromg here. My question is: If they had implemented a backdoor would the backdoor require an president alert for being activated or would something harder-to-see the Right means for activating it?

echoOctober 5, 2018 2:26 PM

@Clive

The mechanism goes by various names but "cell broadcast"[4] is popular in the press though officialy ETSI say it's the "Short Message Service-Cell Broadcast" (SMS-CB). It's actually been in mobile phones for a very long time since 2G atleast and thus predates the idea of extending the much older EAS system for Radio and Televison to the now more ubiquitous "mobile phones".

Wouldn't one issue a high level superduper emergency thingy need to do is bypass congestion? This is one element of an emergencysystem which seems to have been forgotten. During routine peak usage time or ironically during an emergency itself normal traffic may be blocked by all the available lines being jammed.

I'm still bothered about the legislative authority issue and something like this beng misused for political purposes. I'm not just meaning crass propganda but something to raise tensions or induce fear such as the tanks at Heathrow scandal or Downing Street press office, for wont of anyone else to blame, feeding hysterical advice to ministers to meddle with security levels. In the wrong hands it could cause a riot or someone could get shot.

Ned WrightOctober 5, 2018 3:51 PM

I have an iPhone 8+ on T-Mobile and I did not get the alert. My phone was on silent but I just did not get it. I find Amber alerts to be hazardous because of the distracted driving issue. If I am not driving, it's sate to read a message about a license plate to look out for, but I won't see the plate. And if I am driving, I can look for the plate but should not look at the message. But I did get a useful alert about a brush fire nearby once. Luckily I was upwind of it.

LeeHammOctober 5, 2018 8:03 PM

My AT&T SIM, in a OnePlus phone, was with me in México when the alert was sent. I didn't receive anything. Has my phone been hacked by the Chinese government? /sarcasm

RatioOctober 5, 2018 9:00 PM

A conspiracy theory picked up by RT…

What’s next, “water found to be wet”?

Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained SpookOctober 5, 2018 9:53 PM

@Ratio:

What’s next, “water found to be wet”?

That's debatable ;)

‘Wake up people!’: Cyber expert McAfee warns of US govt 'spying' through presidential alert texts

They're all 'Certified Experts' there, I tell ya! Or... is it just Certified"? *snort*

Stephen TiniusOctober 5, 2018 10:13 PM

So today Bruce tells us:
"Noted conspiracy theorist John McAfee tweeted:
[The "Presidential alerts": they are capable of accessing the E911 chip in your phones - giving them full access to your location, microphone, camera and every function of your phone.]
This is, of course, ridiculous".

But just yesterday Bruce wrote:
"Chinese Supply Chain Hardware Attack
Bloomberg is reporting about a Chinese espionage operating involving inserting a tiny chip into computer products made in China.
I've written about this threat more generally. Supply-chain security is an insurmountably hard problem.
We cannot trust anyone, yet we have no choice but to trust everyone".

o.O ??

Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained SpookOctober 6, 2018 7:53 AM

(If they just called it a "FEMA Alert," there would be a lot less stress about the whole thing.)

True: a lot less "Conspiracy Theories" and a lot more ranting, given FEMA's stellar record.

Bill in Lexington,NCOctober 6, 2018 11:00 AM

This started with a previous President who neglected to test it. And that is why so many did not receive it. It hadn't been tested and there actually ARE problems present that could have cost a LOT of lives. Thanks to this President, if ever that fentanyl being smuggled into this country by the ton (literally) finds its way into the water supply, we'll hear about it soon enough to save a few lives ... and not on the 7 pm news after most of us are already dead.

Geez ... the unfounded hatred for Donald Trump is just overwhelming. Obama's neglect of a system designed to defend you against a large / coordinated dangerous situation could have left millions needlessly dead. But you are pissed at Trump trying to save your sorry asses.

Shame on you.

I accept all of the relatively rare alerts. If these occasional alerts are enough to tip your boat, you've got much larger problems you aren't dealing with. Go find a safe place. Re 6:15, 16.

ChrisOctober 6, 2018 3:04 PM

I have all alerts *enabled* on my phone (including a brand new "Presidential Alerts" category that wasn't there the previous time I'd looked), and I *still* *didn't* get the Presidential Alert test message. Can't remember the last time I saw an Amber Alert (or any other kind) either, for that matter!

JackOctober 6, 2018 3:06 PM

So, Bruce.. It wasn't so theoretical after all, was it ??
How do you think certain states use cell-phones as a missile-guiding system for "targeted assassinations ?
Or is that also a "conspiracy-theory"?

Clive RobinsonOctober 6, 2018 4:49 PM

@ BSPMBS,

a lot less "Conspiracy Theories" and a lot more ranting, given FEMA's stellar record.

What's wrong with Conspiracy Theories, the are atleast a lot more entertaining than what goes by as politics these days...

Politics has got so bad I pulled the plug out of the TV last year. Now all I watch is DVDs on a computer instead.

Apparently it's now an offense in the UK to go around saying what you think of politicians several months before an election...

What are the darn politicos afraid of? Some one might give their egos a bit of a brusing with a few home truths? Or that their previous words will come back to haunt them? What are they "fragile"?

In England it's a month away from celebrating the demise of the man to last enter Parliament with honest intentions. Guy Fawks was his name and sending king and Parliament orbital was his game...

OK it's been over four centuries, but you ask children who Guy Fawks was they can tell you. Ask them to name the King or any members of parliament most likely they have not a clue...

Proving that in England what we realy love is a good villain, not the privileged one percenters...

Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained SpookOctober 6, 2018 5:53 PM

@Clive Robinson:

What's wrong with Conspiracy Theories

The labeling! It's the easy way to refute different explanations of events: "He's a conspiracy theorist", task accomplished. I rarely watch TV or MSM -- don't trust 'em. Can't complain, though -- I am totally satisfied!

What are the darn politicos afraid of?

Loss of money and power is what they fear. What else could it possibly be prestige? Today's conspiracy theories are historical facts 75 years later. When things get declassified, right?

Little LambOctober 6, 2018 6:38 PM

Can't remember the last time I saw an Amber Alert (or any other kind) either, for that matter!

The light's about to turn red. You've got to go back to driver's ed for that one....

Clive RobinsonOctober 6, 2018 11:56 PM

@ echo,

Now things have quietend down a bit to try to answer your appatently simple question...

Wouldn't one issue a high level superduper emergency thingy need to do is bypass congestion?

Unfortunatly it's going to have a number of "that depends" and similar qualifiers in it... Starting with,

That depends on the underlying network and communications structure.

I'll try to keep it short and simple as the protocols themselves fill many A4 lever arch volumes, and I'm not sure that one head could hold them all as well as being able to understand the tradeoffs amd other nuances...

In general communications "nets" have a "home" or "control" station that is the "master" that dictates what the "slaves" do when and where. Thus in theory congestion can not happen.

However the first fly in the ointment is a slave joining a net. There are two things it can do. The first is passively wait for a master to transmit a suitable "anybody new" message, which works on a single channel system but can fail on a multichannel system. The second is for the slave to transmit an "is anybody there message" wait for a reply and if there is not one either wait a while or step to the next channel, then transmit again and so on, which works for single channel and limited multichannel systems. There comes a point however where there are too many channels and for various reasons[1] things break down due to the probability of connecting being too low, thus more complicated systems have been thought up and sometimes used.

In the original cellular networks due to the "five colour theorem"[2] and a little engineering committee caution there were six control channels selected out of the hundreds of available channels.

So once "registered" with a communications net controled by a base (master) station, handsets (slaves) will all be sitting on their "local"[3] base control channel unless actively involved in a primary service activity[4] on another non control channel.

SMS in it's many forms is not actually considered a primary but secondary service activity, which can at times be misleading because it can take a very high priority, higher than a primary service activity. Which is why you can receive SMS texts whilst talking to people, and even use the internet.

SMS-CB is one such higher prioriry activity, it should be transmitted not just as a "general broadcast" on the control channels it should also be sent on all other channels that are used for a primary service "if and only if the slave is capable of receiving them" which it might not be for some quite valid reason (like it's used as part of a traffic light control system).

That is a "one time transmmision" to all mobiles connected to a given base at the same time.

However there is a fly in the ointment, not all bases will transmit the message at the same time, which means if a phone is mobile it could move from a cell that has not broadcast to a cell that has broadcast and thus miss the message. There are protocols in place that supposadly stop this and the other issue of getting the broadcast twice, without the need for multiple time delayed repeate messages comming up on a users display (undesirable in an emergancy message system). However there are a lot of not just "edge cases" but "corner cases".

The point is when there is a "lockout/lockdown" in progress the base station as master tells mobiles that they can not place calls or send SMS messages etc, so there should be no congestion in an emergancy. Hence freeing up the network for emergancy responders. But this also has issues on who decideds who is an emergancy responder at any given time... but that as they say is "A story for another day".

[1] One thing that often goes wrong is one party can hear the others transmissions but the other cannot hear the replies. There are various reasons this can happen but I'm not going to go into it. Likewise there are quite a few other issues. So many in fact that sometimes you would be foegiven for thinking it was a miracle communications ever got established.

[2] There is the "four colour theorem" but for various reasons like nobody had come up with a universaly accepted proof in the 1980's, and that RF signals don't have sharp boundries unlike colours on a map, along with there is an old and accepted proof for five colours,

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_color_theorem

So as a committee was involved ;-) six channels is what got accepted, or so the story goes. There is actually a simple proof based on circles or hexagons that even with soft intermingled edges seven colours will do, which most people can realise on their own and "prove" with pencil and paper.

[3] With RF there can be strange effects which means that in a cluttered environment "local" may not mean "as the bird flies" is the shortest distance between a number of bases and an individual handset. The choice is usually made by "multiple integrated signal strengths". That is the base which has the strongest control channel signals over a given time period not instantaneously.

[4] There are various levels of service activity. Originally it was based on if the communications was for analogue (speech) or digital (control/signalling) activity. The eggs got cracked when users wanted to send "data" because the "analogue" channel actually had short duration "drop outs" for various reasons to do with both signaling and cell to cell handover. I had the misfortune to get involved with this and it's part of my life I'm never going to get back...

JackOctober 7, 2018 4:55 AM

@Clive Robinson..
Did the 1% Super-villains not defeat Guy Fawkes ?

Anyway, I find it absolotely laughable that anyone in these days would trust the government to have good intentions only when implementing things like that in our hardware.. 100% bonkers to trust them one iota.

John McAfeeOctober 7, 2018 5:45 AM

E911 is a protocol, not a chip.

Putting aside McAfee's bullshit, intelligence agencies get into your phone through the baseband processor which controls the wireless radio for the GSM network and runs government approved propriety firmware. This has widely been speculated for some time now, because in most modern smartphones, the apps processor and baseband modem share the same memory. Opening the door for remote memory corruption.

echoOctober 7, 2018 10:13 AM

@Clive

Unfortunatly it's going to have a number of "that depends" and similar qualifiers in it... Starting with,

That depends on the underlying network and communications structure.

I'll try to keep it short and simple as the protocols themselves fill many A4 lever arch volumes, and I'm not sure that one head could hold them all as well as being able to understand the tradeoffs amd other nuances...

Why am I not surprised you said this I wouldn't wish to loose a chunk of my life to this either.

Thanksfully physics seems to be a more robust idiot containment box. It still doesn't stop me getting panic attacks every time some brings up meddling with high energies and particles and turning the earth into a smooth ball about 30km wide.

Clive RobinsonOctober 7, 2018 6:50 PM

@ echo,

It still doesn't stop me getting panic attacks every time some brings up meddling with high energies...

Nature always out does man, often in the most extraordinary ways.

If such things do indeed make you nervous then I suggest you do not read up on a galaxy system known as 3C321. It was in the news back in 2007 for being even more surpassing than Xray quasars.

echoOctober 7, 2018 8:10 PM

@Clive

If such things do indeed make you nervous then I suggest you do not read up on a galaxy system known as 3C321. It was in the news back in 2007 for being even more surpassing than Xray quasars.

I have been reading about such things more recently due to black holes being back in the news in a low key way. The first image of a black holes event horizon is estimated to be published later this year by the Event Horizon Telescope collaoboration.

https://eventhorizontelescope.org/

This is not the thing to read in bed late at night! Strangelets are really scary but why do we never hear of quark stars in the media? They are theorised to be responsible for FRBs (Fast Radio Bursts). Super massive (and ultra massive) black holes give me the heebeejeebees. Up to 50 billion (50 billion!!!!) solar masses.

RealFakeNewsOctober 8, 2018 9:18 AM

Unless things have changed, the last I heard was that Strangelets have yet to be observed "in the wild". They are theorized to exist, but as yet not found anywhere.

It was rumored the Large Hadron Collider could possibly create them, which if it did, would turn the Earth into a Strangelet pretty quickly, but so far that hasn't happened. There hasn't been any mention however of whether it created Strangelets at all, or even mini-blackholes (these are thought to "evaporate" faster than they can collect matter in the case that they did materialize, otherwise they'd sink to the center of the earth, consuming matter as they went, and would grow).

The time-frame over which the Earth would be consumed in these scenarios isn't discussed, but I'm guessing it would be very quick once the process started (minutes).

echoOctober 9, 2018 1:20 PM

@RealFakeNews

I ahve only just heard of stragelets and quark stars and did read up on them. I accept the potential dangers of LHC creating earth swallowing strangelets and black holes is between excrutiatingly small to zero. Whatbugs me is scoentists often forgettheyaredealign with real people with narratives and emotions and also forget that scientists can be very bad explaining things to other scientists. This lastone is a known problem and acknowledged as being a thing which hinders progression within science itself.

Here's a new link of LHC and black holes. Ethan mentions nothing about stranglets. (Cue conspiracy theory...) This leads me to another gripe. Popular science seems to have lost its fizz among all the dumbing down and fastcut editing.

One last thing is these issues are handwaved away because "needs new physics" and "no evidence" which is, concidentally, what the LHC is built to discover. Don't even get me started on quantum vacuum collapse!

Basically, I'm allowed to panic and have emotional responses. This doesn't mean I'm invalidating the science but neither should science coldly and cruelly trample over what it means to be human. Without curiosity and enthusiasm it is very unlikely thatscience itself wouldn't exist and nobody would be motivated to become a scientist or even be capable of theorising.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2018/10/08/for-the-last-time-the-lhc-will-not-make-an-earth-swallowing-black-hole/#6b3363ef1262

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