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'Angels & Demons' Revisited: Will CERN's LHC Cause Matter to Travel Back in Time or Forward to the Future?



CERN's  Large Hadron Collider –-- the world's largest atom smasher that started regular operation last year –-- could be the first machine capable of causing matter to travel backwards in time. According to the new theory, elusive Higgs singlets created by the collider should have the ability to jump into an extra, fifth dimension where they can move either forward or backward in time and reappear in the future or past.

"Our theory is a long shot," admitted Thomas Weiler, a physics professor who developed the new theory with Chui Man Ho, both of Vanderbilt University, "but it doesn't violate any laws of physics or experimental constraints."

One of the major goals of the collider is to find the elusive Higgs boson: the particle that physicists invoke to explain why particles like protons, neutrons and electrons have mass. If the collider succeeds in producing the Higgs boson, some scientists predict that it will create a second particle, called the Higgs singlet, at the same time.

"One of the attractive things about this approach to time travel is that it avoids all the big paradoxes," Weiler said. "Because time travel is limited to these special particles, it is not possible for a man to travel back in time and murder one of his parents before he himself is born, for example. However, if scientists could control the production of Higgs singlets, they might be able to send messages to the past or future."

The test of the researchers' theory will be whether the physicists monitoring the collider begin seeing Higgs singlet particles and their decay products spontaneously appearing. If they do, Weiler and Ho believe that they will have been produced by particles that travel back in time to appear before the collisions that produced them.

Weiler and Ho's theory is based on M-theory, a "theory of everything." A small cadre of theoretical physicists have developed M-theory to the point that it can accommodate the properties of all the known subatomic particles and forces, including gravity, but it requires 10 or 11 dimensions instead of our familiar four. This has led to the suggestion that our universe may be like a four-dimensional membrane or "brane" floating in a multi-dimensional space-time called the "bulk."

According to this view, the basic building blocks of our universe are permanently stuck to the brane and so cannot travel in other dimensions. There are some exceptions, however. Some argue that gravity, for example, is weaker than other fundamental forces because it diffuses into other dimensions. Another possible exception is the proposed Higgs singlet, which responds to gravity but not to any of the other basic forces.

Weiler began looking at time travel six years ago to explain anomalies that had been observed in several experiments with neutrinos. Neutrinos are nicknamed ghost particles because they react so rarely with ordinary matter: Trillions of neutrinos hit our bodies every second, yet we don't notice them because they zip through without affecting us.

Weiler and colleagues Heinrich Päs and Sandip Pakvasa at the University of Hawaii came up with an explanation of the anomalies based on the existence of a hypothetical particle called the sterile neutrino. In theory, sterile neutrinos are even less detectable than regular neutrinos because they interact only with gravitational force. As a result, sterile neutrinos are another particle that is not attached to the brane and so should be capable of traveling through extra dimensions.

Weiler, Päs and Pakvasa proposed that sterile neutrinos travel faster than light by taking shortcuts through extra dimensions. According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, there are certain conditions where traveling faster than the speed of light is equivalent to traveling backward in time. This led the physicists into the speculative realm of time travel.

In 2007, the researchers, along with Vanderbilt graduate fellow James Dent, posted a paper titled "Neutrino time travel" on the preprint server that generated a considerable amount of buzz.

Their ideas found their way into two science fiction novels. Final Theory by Mark Alpert, which was described in the New York Times as a "physics-based version of The Da Vinci Code," is based on the researchers' idea of neutrinos taking shortcuts in extra dimensions. Joe Haldeman's novel The Accidental Time Machine is about a time-traveling MIT graduate student and includes an author's note that describes the novel's relationship to the type of time travel described by Dent, Päs, Pakvasa and Weiler.

More information: Causality-Violating Higgs Singlets at the LHC, Chiu Man Ho, Thomas J. Weiler, arXiv:1103.1373v1 [hep-ph].

The Daily Galaxy via Vanderbilt University


Surely they can actually cause a paradox with this, say they do actually send the singlet back in time, detecting it before the experiment is started and then don't actually start the experiment. Wouldn't this be much the same as going back and instigating the grandfather paradox?

Travelling forward in time's a lot less impressive, hell even I can do that, in fact I'm doing it right now! Whilst typing. So I'm also multi-tasking!

You smart feller you!

"elusive Higgs singlets created by the collider should have the ability to jump into an extra, fifth dimension where they can move either forward or backward in time and reappear in the future or past."


Ok... Where do I even start with that statement? First of all, when they talk about 'elusive' particles, what they actually mean is particles they think exist, but they have no evidence for yet... This is no different than the 'wavicles' and 'anti-space' and all those other fundamentally stupid ideas that simply can't be corroborated by any rational argument. The problem with them is they can't be denied by any technical argument either. How can they even define these 'Higgs Singlets' which don't exist? How can they simply invent a particle to fit the mold they want to fill, to make the universe work out just right? Gravity (the force which is based upon interactions of mass) travels at the speed of light... almost as if it where a new and unknown type of pure energy. I can imagine someday in the future being able to artificially generate gravity, once we understand the nature of the energy, but simply making up new particles to explain forces we know very little about is not science: it's superstition. It's just like religions all over the world making up stories about how the Earth was created, and little kids making up lies about how that lamp in the corner got broken... It's contemptible.

Secondly... Fifth dimension?... Fifth dimension?... from what do they derive this conclusion? What in all the world would make them assume that this undiscovered mass-particle was inherently capable of jumping from the three (or four, if you insist on counting time) dimensions we inhabit, up to the 'fifth'? By it's very definition, shouldn't the theoretical 'fifth dimension' be something beyond our limits of perception? Can a stick man on a piece of paper understand our activities in a 3d world?

This is just stupid... that's all there is to it.

I know my arguments fail to illustrate the stupidity, but that's exactly what I meant when I said it could not be corroborated OR denied by any rational arguments. It's just a fundamentally illogical conclusion. Spock would be ashamed.

Okay... so let's say that these particles can be sent back/forward in time. Would they not be appearing at the exact same location in space, just at a different time (future/past)? We are ALWAYS moving (rotation of the earth) so the particle would never be in that same exact location. Is this correct or am I completely wrong?


I'm surprised to see you use the "stick man" example as you call it (I've always known it as "flatlanders"). To a two-dimensional entity, the workings of a three-dimensional world are unfathomable. Take a piece of paper, pretend to be a two-dimensional entity who's entire universe is that paper. You can walk left and right. Traveling on the X and Y axis. Now I come and crumple the paper. You can still travel along the X and Y axis, but simultaneously you are also now traveling along the z axis (the third dimension) as you undetectably (to you) travel up and down along the newly formed ridges and creases of your paper universe.

These are akin to the extra dimensions proposed in M and other theories. Why is it so difficult to accept the very real possibility of particles (such as the Higgs boson/singlet) traveling between different dimensions unknown to us. We're the flatlanders traversing our paper universe. Just because we can't detect that we're actually traveling in up/down in 3-dimensions, does not mean that we aren't.

these are all extremely valid points gentlemen and it only boils down to perception and imagination. if you perceive this world to be "2-d" then that is all it ever will be untill the day someone discovers that third dimension, which doesnt occur without imagination so, though these guys may be making up some particle to fit their theory just means that we could be closer then you think

Will CERN's LHC Cause Matter to Travel Back in Time or Forward to the Future"?

No, it will only cause even more cosmological confusion for the scientists.

Very interesting comments...but,
Why would we as a modern technical society want to send a particle (message) back into the past when there is no instruments that exist that will detect it?
Also I think I have found a sure fire way to prove time travel can be proved (this is an old one which I remembered).
1,compose a message that will trancend time, probably binary, co-ordinates, ie lat and long and most importantly time.
2,bury it deep in a timeproof container, not so hard.
3, wait for the "time travellers" to show up at your designated time and area.
Never ever happen, nice theory hard fact ;-(

If by chance CERN discovers two Higgs bosons, how will they know it's not the same one twice?

The message already went back to different cultures a few thousand years ago about late 2012. So guys sending messages back in time has already succeeded. :)

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