No Provision Against Acts Of God (Or Future God-Particles)
Bread Dropped By Bird Shuts Down The Large Hadron Collider (Really)
“The Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, just cannot catch a break. First, a coolant leak destroyed some of the magnets that guide the energy beam. Then LHC officials postponed the restart of the machine to add additional safety features. Now, a bird dropped some bread on a section of outdoor machinery, eventually leading to significant over heating in parts of the accelerator. The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident, but the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic failsafes would have shut down the machine. This incident won’t delay the reactivation of the facility later this month, but exposes yet another vulnerability of the what might be the most complex machine ever built. With freak accident after freak accident piling up over at CERN, the idea of time traveling particles returning from the future to prevent their own discovery is beginning to seem less and less far fetched.”
The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate
“More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang. Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.
Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, put this idea forward in a series of papers with titles like “Search for Future Influence From LHC,” posted on the physics Web site arXiv.org in the last year and a half. According to the so-called Standard Model that rules almost all physics, the Higgs is responsible for imbuing other elementary particles with mass. “It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,” Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. This malign influence from the future, they argue, could explain why the United States Superconducting Supercollider, also designed to find the Higgs, was canceled in 1993 after billions of dollars had already been spent, an event so unlikely that Dr. Nielsen calls it an “anti-miracle.” Dr. Nielsen admits that he and Dr. Ninomiya’s new theory smacks of time travel, a longtime interest, which has become a respectable research subject in recent years. While it is a paradox to go back in time and kill your grandfather, physicists agree there is no paradox if you go back in time and save him from being hit by a bus. In the case of the Higgs and the collider, it is as if something is going back in time to keep the universe from being hit by a bus.”
“In their December 2007 paper — before the LHC tried to turn on — they very explicitly say that a “natural” accident will come along and break the LHC if we try to turn it on. Well, we know how that turned out. But NN have an ingenious suggestion for saving us from future accidents at the LHC — which, as they warn, could endanger lives. They propose a card game with more than a million cards, almost all of which say “go ahead, no problem.” But one card says “don’t turn on the LHC!” In their model, the nonlocal effect of the imaginary part of the action is to ensure that the realized history of the universe is one in which the LHC never turns on; but it doesn’t matter why it doesn’t turn on. If we randomly pick one out of a million cards, and honestly promise to follow through on the instructions on the card we pick, and we happen to pick the card that says not to turn it on, and we therefore don’t — that’s a history of the universe that is completely unsuppressed by their mechanism. And if we choose a card that says “go ahead,” well then their theory is falsified. (Unless we try to go ahead and are continually foiled by a series of unfortunate accidents.) Best of all, playing the card game costs almost nothing. But for it to work, we have to be very sincere that we won’t turn on the LHC if that’s what the card says. It’s only a million-to-one chance, after all.”