I believe I am not alone in being fascinated by the ongoing debates about this or that physics experiment being on the verge of destroying the Earth. Microscopic black holes produced by mistake in particle physics experiments sinking down to the center of the Earth and slowly eating us out, small black holes used as "clean" bombs, antimatter weapons, strange-matter bits gradually engulfing everything around.

It is quite entertaining and it would be even good for physics outreach if spun the right way, but unfortunately we should not trust too much the sense of humour of our political leaders.

The latest page of the book is an article which appeared on the International Business Times a week ago. It discusses the cuts to the RHIC physics program and the broader context of concerns that the heavy nuclei collisions taking place there might produce strangelets, particles made of an equal mixture of up, down, and strange quarks (wikipedia contains more information on strangelets than I could ever provide here, so please see there if you are interested).

The article recalls past studies which assessed the risk as "nonexistent, criticizing the approach:

Too little thought was given to risk from the RHIC’s beginning. In July 1999, before the collider opened, a flurry of media interest about the strangelet question prompted Brookhaven’s then-director to gather a team of four scientists to consider the issue. The resulting report, completed by the end of September, concluded the RHIC was safe and that a delay in starting it up was unwarranted.

But after public concerns subsided, critics emerged, assailing the risk-assessment method as flawed. Dr. Rees wrote that theorists “seemed to have aimed to reassure the public … rather than to make an objective analysis.”
So scientists are biased by their goals - they do not care if they risk destroying us. I find most disturbing the following sentence in particular:
Richard Posner noted [...] that the scientists on the Brookhaven risk-assessment team were either planning to participate in RHIC experiments or had a deep interest in the RHIC’s data.
Aha, as always, a conflict of interest is apparent. Let's study those collisions, who cares if we blow everything up !

Overall, I find the article really slanted toward fear-mongering. Take the following sentence as a good example:
Also unfortunate, the commission is likely to work slowly. Once formed this spring, the commission’s deadline for submitting its report is February 2015. It would be better if the RHIC risk question was reviewed sooner. Plans for resuming the RHIC experiment are being made and there is some reason to think this next run will present elevated risk. Collisions will be run at a low-energy level, and physicists consider this mode of operation to be more likely to produce strangelets.
That would at least demonstrate the ultimate deadly power of scientific review slowness.

One last thought: regardless of the evidently significant disappointment of losing our entire planet, mankind, and our artistic heritage (where else in the Universe is there a Chopin, or a Mozart ? Alas, I fear we will never know, strangelets or not), I fail to be seized by the fear of dying a much premature death by being turned into strange matter, as I know that I would be going down with absolutely everybody and everything else.

Am I the only one feeling unconcerned ?