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The LHC, the Higgs Boson, and the Chicago Cubs 194

Following up our earlier discussion of the theory that the Higgs boson might time-travel to avoid being found, reader gpronger notes an interview with MIT (and LHC) physicist Steven Nahn, in which he comments on Nielsen and Ninomiya's unlikely-sounding theory. "The premise is fairly crazy, but many things in physics are constructed that way... The difference here is that... previous 'crazy' ideas gave consequences that were clearly testable and attestable to the new nature of the theory, in an objective manner, and involved the behavior of inanimate objects (i.e., not humans). However, in this case, the consequences seem quite contrived... Exactly in line with their argument, I could say that Nature abhors the Chicago Cubs, such that the theory which describes the evolution of our universe prescribed Steve Bartman to interfere on October 14, 2003, extending the 'bad luck' of the Cubbies."
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The LHC, the Higgs Boson, and the Chicago Cubs

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  • Whoa (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:04AM (#29819197)
    Least coherent summary ever. I read it twice and I'm still not sure I understand what we're talking about.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by belthize ( 990217 )

      Must be a White Sox fan.

    • Re:Whoa (Score:4, Funny)

      by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:09AM (#29819239) Journal
      I think he's talking about a group of people that do something out in the big blue room.
    • Re:Whoa (Score:5, Funny)

      by Cryacin ( 657549 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:10AM (#29819247)

      Least coherent summary ever. I read it twice and I'm still not sure I understand what we're talking about.

      That's just because the Higgs Boson was there in the discussion before and after you read it, but not during.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by muzicman ( 1148101 )
        Maybe they are like Gideons?

        Do y'all have different books of the Bible than I do? Are y'all Gideons? Who are the ******' Gideons? Ever met one? NO! Ever seen one? NO! But they're all over the ******' world puttin' Bibles in hotel rooms. Every hotel room- "This Bible was placed here by a Gideon" When?! I been here all day. I ain't seen ****! I saw the housekeeper come and go. I saw the minibar guy come and go. I never laid eyes on a ******' Gideon. What are they- ninjas? Where are they? Where're they fro
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Higgs bosun, my hairy white aging ass. The Cubs could win a world series -- but there's only one group of people who could make it happen. That's the Cubs fans.

        My daughter tells me that if I want to see a Cardinals game not only affordably but cheap, wait until the Cardinals play the Reds in Cincinnati and drive there. Seems ticket and beer prices are dirt cheap there. Why? Because people in Cincinnati won't support a bunch of incompetent losers, unlike people in Chicago.

        Major league baseball is not a game

        • That is a nice theory, but the Cubs already have the third highest team salary in baseball. They won their division in 2007 and 2008, and in 2008 they were expected to go far in the playoffs. Somehow, they managed to fall apart and lose in three games. I don't think it is caused by the fans or the curse so much as it is bad luck.

        • BTW, GO CARDS! Damn, they didn't even make the playoffs this year =(

          The Cardinals won the NL Central and played in the NLDS. Baseball fans refer to this as the postseason. In non-MLB terms, it would be analogous to making the playoffs in the NFL.

          Perhaps the frowny face emoticon would be more appropriate when mentioning that the Cards got swept in the NLDS....

          • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

            Nah, they're the Cardinals. If they don't make the World Series we're pissed. Also, I'm old school -- those "playoffs" don't count. And damn it, the Cardinals ain't supposed to play Kansas City unless it's the World Series! Cubs playing the White Sox is even more blasphemous!

            Actually, I quit following baseball the year they cancelled the World Series. What a bunch of greedy assholes.

    • That's because the Higgs Boson traveled back through time to obfuscate the summary so that no one would understand it.

    • by mea37 ( 1201159 )
      Yes... If only there were some way to get more information than just what's presented in the summary then perhaps we could make some sense of it; but alas, it's just another of life's mysteries.
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:12AM (#29819275) Homepage Journal

    If the LHC gets hit by a meteor five minutes before it is next switched on we may conclude that something strange is going on.

    • Oblig. link (Score:4, Funny)

      by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:42AM (#29819487) Homepage
      • by CreamyG31337 ( 1084693 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @02:15AM (#29819971)

        YES []

        • by Gromius ( 677157 )
          When I first saw that link, my first response was "My Car!!!", as I was sitting in the control room on shift at the time. Second thought was "this is going to be an awkward e-log entry" :)
      • The best part about that site is that they have an RSS feed [], so you don't need to remember to check back regularly.
    • Proof that God exists! He doesn't want his particle to be found and his universe destroyed.

      Uh oh, I dumped the chum in the water again. Sorry. ;)

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      Anyone would think this is April Fools day with this retro Slashdot skin that almost works, and people talking about the meteor impact that broke the space time continuum as if it never happened.
    • Nah, now if it gets hit by a sudden downpour of molten Swiss cheese, THEN something will be going on.
    • Uuum, where have you been? It is up and running []!

      I hope they get it running by new year's eve. So all the monkey boys and time travel loonies can all shoot themselves and their sorry cult. ^^

    • If the LHC gets hit by a meteor five minutes before it is next switched on we may conclude that something strange is going on.

      ...because any self-respecting geek knows that meteorites are what impact at ground level.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Obviously the aliens are afraid we'll discover the secret element that makes FTL travel possible. And that could lead us to realize that we've been sitting on a huge mine of it all along, right here on earth--hidden deep in the rectums of rednecks.
  • by physburn ( 1095481 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:13AM (#29819281) Homepage Journal
    Surprisingly many respectable physicists talking, about this dumb nature abores the Higgs theory. You see there all very excited about the relaunch of the LHC, about finally finding the Higgs, super-symmetric particles, or maybe something new, that there hyping it up. They need it to, without a bit of public excitement, the enormous amounts of money needed for each big generation of collider, aren't going to get spent.

    Hope the LHC finds something, and something mysterious and exacting. If nothing governments are very unlikely to fund a 100 billion for a 100 TeV collider. (that would be very strange, the Standard model need some new physics before about 10TeV, to stablise the masses of the W,Z particles).


    LHC [] Feed @ Feed Distiller []

    • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @02:15AM (#29819965)

      Not strange at all. If they spin it the right way, they can charm the governments and come out on top. Besides when you compare the cost of a new collider to their national bottom lines it just isn't that significant. Sure if they manage to pop up with a new particle or two they can get it quicker, but even without that the knowledge that these particles don't exist means it isn't just money flushed down the drain.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Not strange at all. If they spin it the right way, they can charm the governments and come out on top.

        I [] see what [] you did [] there. Nice! []

        • Not only did you feel the need to explain the joke, you missed half of it. Here's a hint: there are a few other types of quarks.
          • Not only did you feel the need to explain the joke, you missed half of it. Here's a hint: there are a few other types of quarks.

            No, I didn't miss half of it. I just don't care to laud mediocrity. It just doesn't take that much wit when the hidden reference words are very common words (up, down, bottom) and you still can't fit them in at a better ratio than 54 (non-hidden-reference words) to 3 (hidden reference words).

      • Besides when you compare the cost of a new collider to their national bottom lines it just isn't that significant.

        Not sure if you meant this seriously, but Austria compared it with their national bottom line [], and almost [] cut it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Surprisingly many respectable physicists talking, about this dumb nature abores the Higgs theory.

      Its becoming a hallmark of theoretical physics. Underproducing and over-respected scholars prattling on about any nonsense they can dress up in sophistic argument.

      Theoretical physics has produced essentially no results for 40 years. Even when faced with outright contradictions of the standard model, i.e. neutrino mass, they do little but concoct the same convoluted models that lead to nowhere. String theory is t

      • Theoretical physics has produced essentially no results for 40 years.

        That's @#$%ing bull@#$&! That's like saying that medicine hasn't advanced since the 1952 development of a polio vaccine just because we haven't cured cancer or the common cold. Theoretical physics in the field of high-energy certainly has advanced considerably. Beyond that, physics consists of an awful lot more than just the Standard Model and many significant advances have been made. It's simply a huge misconception that physics onl

        • That's @#$%ing bull@#$&! .... Theoretical physics in the field of high-energy certainly has advanced considerably.

          Then give me one result of major significance made in theoretical physics since the completion of the standard model in the early 1970s? I'm not talking about results from experimental physics confirming predictions such as the top quark, or even experiments contradicting it like finding neutrino mass. I mean theoretical results fundamental physics that have advanced beyond the (known) defic

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I mean theoretical results fundamental physics

            You continue to confuse high-energy physics as being the only domain of fundamental physics. It isn't.

            Compare this to the history of theoretical physics since Newton.

            That's 330 years of history. How many "major" advances (by your definition) have occurred since then in total? You don't seem to understand the manner in which science progresses and you seem to want to hold it (or at least particle physics) to a different standard than the rest of intellectual

          • by hondo77 ( 324058 )

            I mean theoretical results...

            Lots of theoretical results, you just can't see them. Hello, they're theoretical!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lennier ( 44736 )

        "Theoretical physics has produced essentially no results for 40 years."

        Indeed. It's actually rather strange when you step back and look at it.

        Newton gave us calculus, mechanics and kick-started the industrial revolution.

        Maxwell in the 1860s produced a rich field of practical applications that we're still mining today.

        Radioactivity and atomic theory in the late 1800s produced, well, very large bombs and power reactors which don't *always* kill people nastily. And a whole bunch of paradoxical complications wh

    • by Rosyna ( 80334 )

      Surprisingly many respectable physicists talking, about this dumb nature abores the Higgs theory.

      Sometimes science is about taking the utterly absurd and finding a way to rationalize it. Such as I'm about to do.

      This time traveling Higgs Boson would support the principal of self-consistency. In a non-multiverse universe (redundant), no event could ever occur that would create a paradox. Viewing the Higgs Boson would create a logical (perhaps ontological) paradox. Thus, it can never happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Surprisingly many respectable physicists talking

      Which physicists and who are they talking to? What makes it into the news isn't an accurate representation of the work that's being done by those who work in the field. The small, interesting discoveries don't get reported on by the media; it's the crazy theories and cool ideas that get coverage. I can guarantee you that most of the work work being done at CERN is mind-numbingly boring as far as the general population is concerned, but it's very good work.


  • Turns out, nature DOES abhor the Cubs. Showed you, mr fancy physicist guy.
  • This might simply be a matter of physicist humor not translating into reporter humor: Physicist says, "Maybe we're violating the laws of the universe and it's out to get us (chuckle, chuckle)." Reporter thinks, "That sounds like front-page news!"
  • that is right the cubs must win it all before the World can end also the maybe the LHC can take out the Earth but the universe? other allens out there likely have much better tech.

    also is the goat tied to this as well? and we need game 7 to be at 1060 west addison and WE NEED TO DROP THE ALL STAR GAME COUNTING.

    at least the blackhawks and bears look good this year.

  • by VinylRecords ( 1292374 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:36AM (#29819447) [] [] [] [] []

    Osama Bin Laden is safer walking down the streets of New York City than Steve Bartman is walking down the streets of Chicago.

    • That says more about American Baseball supporters than it does about Steve's actions.
    • And my brother still insists, that we are not evolving backwards...

      Shit, I would not even blink with an eye, to burn up every single one of those drooling retards that would want to hurt him for this. Were are we? in the dark ages??

      That's what reverse natural selection — the fostering and supporting of the worst parts of society, while insulting and mistreating the best from the very beginning of education — does for you.

  • by Odinlake ( 1057938 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:36AM (#29819451)
    I could believe that there was some strange time-travel-effects going on to prevent this poor Boson, but I can't imagine that it would establish itself as suspicious high-level events such as meteorite impacts or whatever "chance" events people are going on about. If it is happening I bet it is in the form of some new repulsive force that doesn't follow from other theories, or something basic like that. Something we will be able to measure and something we will probably be able to take advantage of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by glwtta ( 532858 )
      I can't imagine that it would establish itself as suspicious high-level events such as meteorite impacts or whatever "chance" events people are going on about.

      You clearly have no understanding of theoretical physics. You are probably one of those people who doesn't believe that in the many-worlds interpretation decoherence hinges entirely on human actions, resulting in universes which are primarily distinguished by the clothing and facial hairstyle choices of their respective inhabitants, thus providing
      • by Zenaku ( 821866 )

        YOU clearly have no understanding of theoretical physics. While it is true the decoherence hinges entirely on human actions, that statement is too general. It hinges entirely on human actions between 1930 and 1945, resulting in universes which are primarily distinguished by having had different outcomes to World War II.

    • I really don't get all this time travel stuff, and I would love someone to explain to me why physicists even consider it possible. It seems to me that time is just the rate of propagation of change. A photon cannot move from a source to a detector instantly, the change introduced to the system by emitting a photon can only be detected after the change has propagated to the detector.

      An often quoted example of why time is a dimension is that to meet someone you need there coordinates (x,y,z) and a time, ergo

  • by Ryvar ( 122400 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:45AM (#29819503) Homepage

    This whole 'theory' really just sounds like an application of the Novikov Self-Consistency Conjecture [] to particle physics. The short version is: the probability of events which could lead to a violation of causality is zero. So, according to this conjecture if the manifestation or observation of the Higgs Boson eventually lead us to develop technology with which we might otherwise violate causality, we'll never discover it.

    I can think of at least one way it might - the Higgs Boson is critical to our understanding gravity. We know from relativity that there are certain gravitric structures which might potentially lead to violations of causality. One example is a toroidal singularity, spun extremely fast, which theoretically generates stable artificial wormhole along the axis of the spin with an opening small enough to fire, say, an x-ray laser through. A signal sent through such a wormhole and then back again could lead to extremely clear-cut violations of causality.

    Thus, if the Novikov Self-Consistency Conjecture is correct, the discovery of anything capable of allowing us to engage in large scale gravity manipulation of this sort might well have zero probability of ever occurring.

    I don't really believe this is what's going onhere , but given the abject failure of every experiment that might lead us to real, large-scale gravity manipulation (I'm thinking of that experiment where extremely fine measurements of lasers fired down long tubes buried under the ground were supposed to be used to detect gravity waves), it's a neat idea.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't buy it. By your interpretation of the conjecture, the people working at CERN couldn't possibly be born.

      You make the fallacious reasoning that if A may lead to and precedes B, B to C, C to D and D to violation of causality, that A cannot possibly happen. This is faulty. Just because you can't have Y without having X and Y is impossible doesn't mean X is impossible.

    • Supposing that humanity learning how to manipulate gravity does indeed lead to violating causality, and that we live in one universe in an infinitely bifurcating multiverse, probability could indicate that any continuing stable universe is one which does not contain the discovery of the higgs boson.

      All it takes is one madman with a sufficiently powerful time machine, and the entire shape of the involved universe is irrevocably altered--effectively destroyed. Or, over infinite future time, the probability th

      • Assuming you can destroy a universe in the first place. It's also possible that Universes don't get destroyed, they just enter exponentially increasing states of entropy due to time travel. So, not destroyed, just unable to support life (or meaningful patterns of any sort).

  •     God.print(9 / 0);

  • This post (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This post will enlighten you into the inner minds of a regular Slashdot reader. By the end of this post you will know everything.

    So here's the deal...

    Wait, you look like me. Is that a gun? No! Let me finish typ

  • The earth is not the center of the universe. You can't travel back in time and create paradoxes anymore than a hydrogen atom can. The Higgs boson isn't hiding from you and your macroscopic view. You're not special.

    Either I'm missing something, or the level of arrogance in this 'theory' is exceptionally high.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      Either I'm missing something, or the level of arrogance in this 'theory' is exceptionally high.

      Arrogance is another thing the universe doesn't care about. A given scientist can be the world's most pompous ass, and still be right.

      Not that that's likely in this case. But at least give them points for creativity.

    • Actually, it's a pretty cool Sciencey-fiction plot. Ever see the butterfly effect? Think about it, human kind invents time travel, almost wipes itself out because of it so goes back and prevents the original invention. Pick a point of failure that is sufficiently essoteric like the higgs boson and humanity might come to believe time travel is not even possible.

      Cool for fiction, not so sure I'd want to be the one to suggest time traveling ninja assasins as the reason I failed at my lab work.
      • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @01:58AM (#29819895) Homepage

        A universe which permits time travel which can change the past is inherently unstable. Sooner or later (on some meta time axis) that universe's timeline will be changed to one where such time travel never occurs, and will then stay that way. It's the most stable state.

        • To conclude your theory, no universe will ever discover time travel. Its discovery will preclude its own discovery, according to your model, therefore there can be no discovery.

          If we're considering time travel, though, how about this "Novikov Self-Consistency Conjecture." What if the universe allowed time travel to the point of time travel being discovered only, and travel prior to that point impossible?

          How would we know that the machine worked?
        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity []

  • The theory may be silly, and currently it appears to violate Occam's razor. It's pretty implausible for now. But, what if every time they try to discover the Higg's Boson, an even unlikelier mishap prevents them? Janitors tripping over power cords, meteors, lightning strikes, structural collapse...
  • If Higgs Boson makes time loops that get solved when something break and then is not discovered, really weird things could happen to end those loops (i.e. in FAQ about time travel there were giant ants, and in PKDick's Medler were intelligent killer butterflies). That so far has been just somewhat minor problems that affected only the LHC, but next try could happen something that ends civilization, life on earth or the entire universe.
  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @02:56AM (#29820155) Journal

    What many people do not realize, is that the cubs that won in 1908 were a completely different team playing in a different field. Wrigely field ( then called wigman park) was built for the Chicago Whales. The whales kicked but winning two championships at the same ballpark that the Cubs suck in. So yadda yadda yadda. Federal league goes kaput, the whales owner buys the cubs, just changes the name of the whales to the cubs and presto chango they never win again.

    The obvious problem is that aliens can no longer communicate with the chicago whales. And thus are cursing them from space. Manipulating the flights of balls. Temporary blinding out fielders. Not even the Modern steroids coursing through Sosa's veins were a match for the alien interlopers.

    So we need to go back, BACK into the past and rescue the chicago whales and bring them into the modern era where they can successfully communicate with the pissed aliens and allow the Cubs to win or lose as their abilities permit.

  • Nothing against theories. Even the wild ones. But bring verifiable predictions, or stop acting as if it were a real theory. It's just an idea. And a pretty bad one to start with.

    Mainly because, of all the stupid time travel models that were made up in movies, it is based on the by far stupidest. The one where you can cause time paradoxes, and there is somehow just one time line.
    If there were some influence trough time, then that would mean the creation of new time lines. Just like you could kill your father

    • The guys who proposed the wacky theory did in fact suggest a test, and quite an interesting one. The critic who wrote TFA apparently missed it when he "skimmed" the papers he publicly ridiculed.

      The idea is to conduct some random event, say 1,000 coin tosses, and pre-commit to cancel the LHC if we observe a ridiculous outcome, like 1,000 heads in a row.

      • Except that you'd need to guarantee that the LHC would discover something the universe didn't "want" *unless* that specific improbable event occurs. As long as there are other ways to keep the secret, there's no need for the universe to play your silly game. "Heads, heads, heads, tail, oh shit earthquake" would work just as well.

  • ...but I don't think the point was that a sentient universe was specifically reaching backward in time to mess with Higgs producing devices.

    I read the article, but I don't have it handy right now, but here's what I thought it was really suggesting:

    The universe abhors Higgs particles, not on a conscious level, but in the same way nature abhors a vacuum. The production of a Higgs particle is so catastrophic though, that it effectively causes the end of the universe. BUT, if new universes are actually spawne

  • The Higgs Boson is a theoretical particle. We have no way of knowing whether it exists at all. The LHC might find it, but only if it exists to be found. What if the theory that predicted it is wrong ? I can devise a theory that deposits $100M in my bank account. When it doesn't happen, is that because the universe is somehow conspiring against me ?

    On a related note, regarding dark matter/ dark energy - if quantum uncertainty is true, and a particle is never actually in existence in a certain place until yo
  • ...that the arXiv is not a peer-reviewed journal. The article [] that started this has not survived peer-review and is not reflective of the opinions of every physicist on the planet. If you read the article it's also clear that the author is only being half-serious about the whole thing and his collaborators have left their names off the paper.
  • I need to go make some t-shirts...
  • Of course, it was not Steve Bartman that caused the cubs to lose that day. It was Alex Gozalez's inability to field a routine ground ball later in the innning.

    As long as we are time travelling, we may as well get the history right.

  • So. Higgs-Boson, testable. Chicago Cubs, detestable. Makes sense to me, but only if you simultaneously answer the seemingly unentangled questions "testable by what" and "detestable to whom" since if there IS a God particle it seems likely that it plays some other game. We posit, then, that if Death plays chess, God must play solitaire.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.