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Large Hadron Collider goes Back to the Future

By Peter Evans, CBCNews.ca

It hasn't been a smooth ride for the Large Hadron Collider.

First, a worker was killed when a 1,200-kilogram cabinet slipped and fell on him. Next, faulty magnets caused a helium leak. And earlier this month, a worker at the site was arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist.

A 27-kilometre long circular tunnel buried under the French and Swiss border, the LHC might be the world's most elaborate science experiment.

Essentially a gigantic particle accelerator, the collider is tasked with finding the Higgs boson – a mystery-shrouded theoretical particle that's believed to play a role in giving matter its mass.

Scientists believe the Higgs was present in the nanoseconds following the Big Bang. Among other tests, the LHC hopes to recreate those conditions to prove that the Higgs actually exist.

It was fired up for the first time in September 2008. When that happened, more than a few people were relieved to discover that the Earth was not immediately swallowed into a massive black hole, which was one of the more doomsday-like prophecies of what the collider might cause.

The project was halted shortly thereafter for a series of technical mishaps and it's been shuttered ever since. But as officials prepare to fire it up again, some intriguing new research suggests the project is doomed to fail no matter what preparations are made.

Two scientists have hypothesized in a series of papers that the LHC's stated aim of finding the Higgs boson might be so abhorrent to nature that mysterious forces are traveling back through time and sabotaging the experiment before it can succeed.

"The potential production of a large number of Higgs particles at a certain future time would cause a pre-arrangement such that Higgs particle production can be avoided," theoretical physicists Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya rather clumsily wrote in a recent research paper.

Unlike the experiment itself, reaction to the paper has been predictable. Blogger mouths were agape. The New York Times chimed in.

Despite the attention, the two aren't proposing a possible solution to the problem. Indeed, if the powers that be are bound and determined to see the LHC fail, there isn't much humanity can do about it, they concede. Their proposal was merely to implement a sort of random-number generator via card drawing into the overall LHC experiment.

If an impossibly rare sequence of numbers came up, it could be construed as proof of high-level meddling, they posited. "When the Higgs particles are to be produced, we must carry out a retest to elucidate whether there could be an influence from the future," the physicists wrote.

A science experiment being sabotaged by its own future self?

That two respected scientists would put forward a theory reminiscent of Marty McFly's journey through time to ensure his parents fall in love speaks to the collider's intrigue in the scientific community and the world at large.

In his book Angels and Demons, novelist Dan Brown wrote of a secret society stealing anti-matter form CERN, the agency that operates the collider, and using it to make a bomb to destroy the Vatican.

Confusion was widespread enough that CERN went as far as publishing an FAQ on their website establishing that, no, in fact, they are not in the midst of developing a weapon thousands of times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A looming nuclear apocalypse notwithstanding, the LHC wouldn't be the first ambitious science project to have trouble getting off the ground. The Hubble Space Telescope suffered through a number of missteps before being successfully launched in 1990. And the highway of alternative energy is littered with the carcasses of hyped developments that never panned out.

Leaving aside any nuisances that might develop from ripping a hole in the space-time continuum, perhaps there's a good side to the sudden viability of time travel.

The creator making his or her presence felt could open up a whole new branch of scientific research, for example. String Theory and its effect on the Enchantment Under The Sea dance, maybe?

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Comments

DF Lewis

UK

The CERN ZOO fiction book anthology (June 2009) is relevant to the back from the future sabotage or 'suicide'.

Posted October 20, 2009 12:15 PM

Dano

Victoria

Ugh... really? Sabotaged from the future? Respected scientists?!! I propose that the earth in the parallel universe next to ours built one and it actually DID create a black hole, which destroyed their world, and the subsequent energy shockwave shook a bolt loose on our collider, causing it to misfire. Bam. Done. Haha!

Posted October 21, 2009 06:39 PM

?????

toronto

This to me means something like....

There is no mass in the future OR particles in the space we have not entered in have been reflected back to us.

I would still believe infinitesimal neutron like particles is what gives mass. They would exist in a range of particles. A specific exact particle that does this is very unlikely !

Posted October 31, 2009 05:47 PM

RandyE

Oh so that's why I never win the lottery, I'm being sabotaged by the future impoverishment of humanity due to climate change. Okay then lets scrap the LHC and work on those gigantic cracks in the antarctic ice shield.

I think the Higgs boson is pure form, representing the 5th physical dimension, but don't quote me on that, I have no credentials in physics other than my imagination.

Posted November 4, 2009 12:15 PM

MathMan

BC

The future will continue to prevent the experiment from happening until Dec 12, 2012...

Posted November 5, 2009 08:46 AM

susan thomas lloyd george

oxford

I HAVE A FRIEND WHO IS DESCENDED FROM H. G. WELLS THE WRITER AND I AM DESCENDED FROM THE WELSH WIZARD DAVID LLOYD GEORGE. DURING ONE OF OUR FASCINATING CONVERSATIONS WE CAME TO EXACTLY THE SAME CONCLUSION AS THE SCIENTISTS BUT ARRIVED AT IT VIA INTUITION RATHER THAN HIGH LEVEL MATHS STILL WITH ANCESTORS LIKE OURS WE ARE ENDOWED WITH MASSIVE TALENT AND CAN SAY THAT THE PARTICLE HAS TO REMAIN HIDDEN IN A SUPERNATURAL FASHION.

Posted November 25, 2009 05:31 PM

reaper

america

well if people from the future came back to sabotage the project they must have been alive to come back so i cant see any problem ...what do ya know... we have a future....

Posted December 22, 2009 09:58 PM

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