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The Black Hole Case: The Injunction Against the End of the World

90 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2010  

Eric E. Johnson

University of North Dakota School of Law

Date Written: December 31, 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

Keywords: injunction, CERN, LHC, black hole, physics, particle physics, risk

JEL Classification: K13, K32, K41

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Eric E., The Black Hole Case: The Injunction Against the End of the World (December 31, 2009). Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 4, pp. 819-908, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Eric E. Johnson (Contact Author)

University of North Dakota School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202-9003
United States


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