Today, after 14 months of repairs, the Large Hadron Collider, has been started up again. Scientists have made two stable proton beams circulate in opposite directions around the machine. If all goes according to plan, sub atomic particles will be smashing together in an underground circular tunnel Geneva in a search for forces and particles that occurred during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang. It will accelerate particles to the speed of light – then smash them together to recreate conditions from the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang, which created the universe. Each particle – a trillionth the size of a mosquito – will create a shockwave distorting time and space around it.
It has however been suggested that the troubled collider is being sabotaged from the 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 traveller 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, Japan, put this idea forward in a series of papers with titles like “Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal” and “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. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, “Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is their guess, he went on, “that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”
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. Although just why the Higgs would be a catastrophe is not clear. If we knew, presumably, we wouldn’t be trying to make one.
We always assume that the past influences the future. But that is not necessarily true in the physics of Newton or Einstein. According to physicists, all you really need to know, mathematically, to describe what happens to an apple or the 100 billion galaxies of the universe over all time are the laws that describe how things change and a statement of where things start. The latter are the so-called boundary conditions — the apple five feet over your head, or the Big Bang.
The equations work just as well, Dr. Nielsen and others point out, if the boundary conditions specify a condition in the future (the apple on your head) instead of in the past, as long as the fundamental laws of physics are reversible, which most physicists believe they are.
“For those of us who believe in physics,” Einstein once wrote to a friend, “this separation between past, present and future is only an illusion.”
Dr. Nielsen and Dr. Ninomiya are not the only scientists suggesting interference from the future.
Russian mathematicians Igor Volovich and Irina Aref’eva say this may tear the fabric of the universe and result in a “wormhole” linking our time with the future. They suggest that the laws of physics suggest that no one from the future will be able to travel back any further than when the machine was switched on – with 2008 being Year Zero.
Dr Volovich, of the Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow, reckons future technology may be advanced enough to send someone back through the time tunnel.
He told the magazine New Scientist: “If a combination of fast-moving particles and phantom energy does create a wormhole, an advanced civilisation could find it in their history books, pinpoint the moment – and take advantage of their technology to pay us a visit.”
The British Gazette comment ? Could some kind time traveller from the future give us a list of the upcoming winning lottery numbers ?