The Black Hole Case: The Injunction Against the End of the World
Eric E. Johnson
University of North Dakota School of Law
December 31, 2009
Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 4, pp. 819-908, 2009
What should a court do with a preliminary-injunction request to halt a multi-billion-dollar particle-physics experiment that plaintiffs claim could create a black hole that will devour the planet? The real-life case of CERN's LHC seems like a legal classic in the making. Unfortunately, however, no court has braved the extreme factual terrain to reach the merits. This article steps into the void. First, the relevant facts of the scientific debate and its human context are memorialized and made ripe for legal analysis. Next, the article explores the daunting challenges the case presents to equity, evidence, and law-and-economics analysis. Finally, a set of analytical tools are offered that provide a way out of the thicket - a method for providing meaningful judicial review even in cases, such as this one, where the scientific issues are almost unfathomably complex.
Note: Also posted on the arXiv, Physics & Society, online
Number of Pages in PDF File: 90
Keywords: injunction, CERN, LHC, black hole, physics, particle physics, risk
JEL Classification: K13, K32, K41
Date posted: January 10, 2010
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