“Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God [...] that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”
This is a rather bold statement, and oddly enough, it was made by an otherwise distinguished physicist in an unpublished article. Unpublished (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) it may be, but this forms the background of Dr Holger Bech Nielsen’s research that has appeared in publications over the past 18 months. Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and co-author Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, have been hinting about this subject for some time, but in a recent New York Times essay, Nielsen directly blames God for our Higgs boson woes.
The two researchers propose that the search for the Higgs Boson is jinxed, and forever will be, because this bizarre particle has the ability to travel back in time. In a nutshell, Nielsen and Ninomiya reckon that the creation of a Higgs particle during the energetic collision inside a particle accelerator — such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — will cause a chain of events that will ripple back in time, stopping its creation in the future. Nielsen and Ninomiya seem to think there is some kind of natural quantum censor that prevents the Higgs particle from being produced.
It sounds like a particle physics version of Back To The Future and the “Grandfather Paradox” (i.e. if a man could travel back in time to kill his grandfather, would he cease to exist?), and it is certainly a very interesting question. But where’s the evidence?
Nielsen and Ninomiya think that the troubled path to the potential discovery of the Higgs is proof that their theory is valid. Take the 1993 closure of the United States Superconducting Supercollider, after billions of dollars had been invested in the project. Why would the project be canceled? Could it be that the collider discovered the Higgs in the future, only for that future Higgs particle to send a signal to the Universe that it cannot be discovered, thereby triggering a natural safety mechanism in the temporal fabric of spacetime, ensuring US Congress pulled the plug on the project after $2 billion had been invested?
And what about the September 2008 LHC troubles when a transformer broke down and then a quench vaporized the connection between two of the accelerator’s superconducting magnets, ensuring a 14 month delay in particle collisions? Is this proof that the LHC discovered the Higgs particle in the future, triggering the Universal safety mechanism to prevent–
You get the picture.
Although things are already starting to sound like a Dan Brown novel, the fact that the researchers decided to bring God into it makes the whole story even crazier.
I have an alternate theory. Could it be that the hunt for the Higgs boson is just really hard? After all, to produce a Higgs particle requires a lot of energy and the particle accelerators required are the most advanced pieces of scientific equipment ever built in the history of mankind. This fact alone means that prototypes cannot be constructed; all the practical experiments carried out at the LHC (for example) will be one of a kind. Mistakes are bound to happen and the experiments will need to be adapted to cater for unforeseen variables.
So, is “God” sabotaging the LHC? I think there are far simpler explanations.
Source: New York Times