I killed my own grandpa! - The Large Hadron Collider Story

Story from the NYTimes

What a trippy story. If I’m reading it correctly, which I’m not sure I am, the Higgs particle that the LHC is trying to produce is so unstable that it’ll try to destroy any attempts at making itself? So does this mean it’s a time traveling particle?

Help me out, Dopers. How much credence should I give to Drs. Nielsen and Ninomiya?

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this since yesterday and it’s still twisting my brain into pretzels.

Zero, would be my guess.

Moving this to GQ, our forum for questions with factual answers.

A particle going back in time is plausible. Maybe like .00001seconds or some small amount of time like that.

Stopping the collider from being built is just crazy talk.

This is a variation of Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture, which has been around for almost 20 years.

As the Wiki article notes, you can’t prove this without a theory of quantum gravity, which doesn’t exist. Maybe the future is preventing its existence. :slight_smile:

If you want to understand it, the best way would be to read this thread. I’m emphatically not saying that this theory is magic, just that it’s easiest to think of it as having the mechanism work in the same way.

What this means and how it works at the quantum level is for somebody else to talk about.

2 Papers related to the people in question http://arxiv.org/abs/0910.0359 and http://arxiv.org/abs/0707.1919

The fact that the 2nd papers references the shutdown of the Super Collider as suggestive of a reverse causality producing Higgs Boson has my :dubious: meter pinging. I’d be tempted to ask why, if nature is capable of far higher energies, those reactions do occur while they supposedly wont occur in a controlled environment (LHC).

That’s just what the Higgs particle wants you to think…

Funny, I just read this. (That is, it’s funny that I read it right around when you posted it, as the Science Times comes out on Tuesdays).

IMO, someone’s been reading to much conceptual sci-fi.

Just hope the Higgs Boson doesn’t come after you.

Hmmm. I skimmed through one of the papers and the gentlemen in question appears to be saying that the basis of their assumption is bad luck. Bad luck of such magnitude that it couldn’t be due to chance, but instead is due to this “backwards causation effect.”

My face is now doing :dubious:

It does make for a really nifty sci-fi type of idea though. Sounds like something physics geeks might think up of over a couple of beers. Thanks to everyone for their answers.

Some theorize that the Budget Protection Protection Conjecture explains why the USA super collider was never built. It would have been SOO expensive and such a crime against mother nature that the evil particle traveled far enough back in time to actually halt construction.

Here’s a blog post by Sean Carroll (who’s briefly quoted in the NYT article) which attempts to explain the subject and comments on the attending blogospheric furore. Money quote: “This paper is crazy, but I’m happy to argue that it’s the good kind of crazy.”

To the authors’ credit, their hypothesis is falsifiable.

I have scant background in this area, but their crazy idea doesn’t seem nuttier to me than relativity or Schrodinger’s cat. I’m not saying it’s true, just that the ludicrous is commonplace in physics.

Quite interesting. Are there any other theories that posit imaginary actions? Are all imaginary actions non-local?

In the end, though, it seems the universe would rather keep particles from colliding in such a way as to produce a boson (ie, the collider keeps missing), rather than create mysterious high-level accidents.
Btw, isn’t the creation of a Higgs Boson the thing that triggered inflation and the birth of our universe? If we ever produce these things, do we run the risk of destroying the universe as it currently is? Moreover, if we posit that we experience our lives only as simulations and rememberings in some sort of post-singularity universal meta-mind, then we can argue that that mind not exist if earlier in the history of its universe, the universe was destroyed by a higgs boson. Hence, the world we live in is steered to live a history where very few higgs bosons are produced. See, with that layman’s explanation, the non-locality of the imagine components of action in trying to avoid the creation of the higgs boson makes perfect sense :stuck_out_tongue:

Meh. Larry Niven already did this in his story, “Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation,” based upon physicist Frank Tipler’s paper of the same name. (Tipler, by the way, is brilliant but also crazy as a rabid Capuchin monkey.)

If this were really a problem we’d be subject to causality violations several hundred thousand times a second by cosmic radiation particles that interact with the Earth’s upper atmosphere with energies orders of magnitude higher than that developed by the LHC. And the Superconducting Super Collider was killed by the usual thing, i.e. bullshit competition between political factions who had no understanding of the ultimate implications of results obtained therefrom, i.e. if it doesn’t generate additional GNP or blow something up real good, it must not be of much value.


If you look at the history of scientific experiments of this magnitude, it’s actually somewhat remarkable that the LHC has had as few setbacks as it has. OK, one magnet quenched and broke the thing, but the funding’s kept coming in, which is a much more common cause of death for experiments.

Some of the responses here sound like the argument is that the particle could somehow prevent the collider from being built, or something like that.

The sentence is a bit badly written, but to me it sounds more like “the particle could travel back in time and disrupt its own formation.” Which is exotic, but not as exotic as an entire particle collider going spoit! and vanishing.

No, it’s more like the universe is all one entity taken through all of time, and its geography in our location of the present is such as to guarantee some other properties of it in a different place (or time).

This is why their suggestion is “non-local.” Einstein hated non-locality, but it does exist in quantum mechanics. Just not necessarily in this way.

In 1971, Larry Niven suggested that, if time tavel and the possibility of changing the past do exist, the result will be that no working time machine will in fact be built. His reasoning is that (a) either a time machine will be built, or not. If not, Q.E.D. If so, then it will be taken into the past, and introduce random changes. Eventually, one effect of such changes will be to alter the properties of the universe in such a way to prohibit the construction of a functional time machine. Since the past has been changed to make time machines impossible, the machine will never be built. Q.E.D.

My completely non-scientific, non-expert viewpoint is that time simply doesn’t work like that; it just is, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it. I realize that I could be one of those “if man were meant to fly, he’d have wings” types here, but I just don’t think that time is a thing that is manipulatable (is that a word?).