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The LHC, the Higgs Boson, and Fate 691

Reader Maximum Prophet sends a piece from the NY Times by the usually reliable Dennis Overbye reporting on a "crazy" theory being worked up by a pair of "otherwise distinguished physicists": that the Large Hadron Collider's difficulties may be due to the universe's reluctance to produce a Higgs boson. Maximum Prophet adds, "This happened to the Superconducting Super Collider in the science fiction story Einstein's Bridge. Now Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, are theorizing that it's happening in real life." "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."
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The LHC, the Higgs Boson, and Fate

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  • Re:To say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:21PM (#29735507)

    Please don't anthropomorphize particles. They don't like when you do that.

    Hehe. I quite like anthropomorphized particles: []

  • Re:Quantum Suidice (Score:5, Informative)

    by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:24PM (#29735569)

    Well you could have just linked the Wikipedia article [] instead of copying and pasting it ;)

  • Re:Quantum Suidice (Score:3, Informative)

    by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:35PM (#29735713) Homepage Journal

    Beat me to it.

    The description of the process is a mite sloppy:

    Each time he pulls the trigger, the universe is split in two.

    You could say that the universe is forever splitting into infinitely many versions every instant, or that the wave function of the universe is getting infinitely more complex every instant... these are just different ways of saying the same thing. The different macroscopic events (you pull the trigger on cartridge or an empty chamber) are the result of these quantum level events, not the cause.

  • by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:43PM (#29735837) Homepage Journal

    Why not do both? []

  • Re:Could happen (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:13PM (#29736293) Journal

    A pair of entangled particles has the property that, if someone takes a measurement on each of them, forcing each into one of a pair of eigenstates, knowing which state one of them collapsed into tells you which state the other one collapsed into - even if the separation between the two measurements is spacelike rather than timelike (i.e. even if a signal from one of them "telling" the other which state to pick would have to propagate faster than light.)

    But you can't force your particle to pick one of the two options for its own collapse, and thus force the other to pick a state of your choosing and send a bit of information faster than light. The PARTICLE gets to make the pick. You can't distinguish whether the particles communicate FTL, the pick was already made when they initially became entangled and carried by some "hidden variable" until the measurement (though there's reason to believe it's not a hidden variable), they were just predestined to act that way, or whatever. (Physics says WHAT it does but, at least so far, not HOW.)

    The most you can do is measure a DIFFERENT thing about the particle when you force the collapse (such as the polarization along a different axis if you're measuring polarization), in which case you lose all knowledge about how the other particle's measurement came out.

    So if there is an FTL communications link there, it's useful for the particles but apparently not for us.

    This is probably good. If we had a reliable FTL signal link we could pretty trivially (using special relativity and things moving moderately fast) turn it into a future-to-past communication link and blow the hell out of causality. So far the only maybe-future-to-past comm channel that comes out of current paradigms (AFAIK) involves galactic-scale masses and energies.

    Does that explanation help?

  • Re:Boson in time (Score:4, Informative)

    by bheekling ( 976077 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:41PM (#29736677)
    The English "or" maps to the operator "OR", but the English "either ... or" maps to the operator "XOR". In other words,

    scary or wonderful => scary OR wonderful

    either scary or wonderful => scary XOR wonderful
  • Re:Could happen (Score:4, Informative)

    by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:04PM (#29737081)

    The information is available on the surface of the event horizon by the holographic principle [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:33PM (#29737567)

    Is that related to the quantum bogosort?

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:33PM (#29737581) Journal

    Good stuff!

    From the outside perspective, the scientist was never able to achieve time travel, and the proliferation of nasty accidents around time travel experimentors would seem like some sort of "Physicist's Curse".

    There was something that LOOKED like that in chemistry: The isolation of Fluorine. It turned out to be pretty straightforward. But the stuff was SO toxic that a number of chemists died in "mysterious laboratory accidents" before one succeeded AND kept it sufficiently contained to live to tell about it. Then they figured out what had happened to the rest.

    Nitroglycerin had a related happening, first time: It blew the lab and the chemist to small pieces. But he'd kept good notes and they survived. With the info others were able to replicate the synthesis and knew to take care (and work from a distance!) until they figured out the need for temperature control and shock-avoidance to avoid setting off the product in mid-reaction.

  • Re:Could happen (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:40PM (#29737659) Journal

    Doesn't this really just mean that FTL is only possible if there's a preferred frame of reference?

    Yep. But such a special frame also pulls the rug out from under both special and general relativity.

    Given how well relativity has matched extreme physical phenomena so far it seems unlikely that a special frame with FTL will show up.

  • by dakameleon ( 1126377 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @07:06PM (#29738813)

    The relevant quote:

    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

    There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

    and another that could possibly be relevant here (imagine this one as one line per page, as published):

    Anything that happens, happens.
    Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
    Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
    It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order, though.

    (source) []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:11PM (#29739819)
    You don't get it. The idea is that a universe can't exist in which the machine is allowed to activate. If the machine activates it destroys the universe including the entire timeline (from start to finish) so the fact that we live in a universe that isn't destroyed means the machine is never activated. The universe isn't doing anything to prevent the machine from being activated, it's just that universes in which random things don't stop it from happening don't exist.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972