Is the Large Hadron Collider Killing Its Own Grandfather?

Geek Culture


Photo by Maximillier Brice / CERN

If you’ve read about all the troubles scientists at CERN in Europe have been having getting the Large Hadron Collider to work, you must have had the same sort of thought about the failures as some such scientists have: Obviously, a time travel paradox is to blame.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) first went online September 10 of last year amid much hullabaloo about the possibility it could have some… unfortunate repercussions. It promptly went offline nine days later, and has since given the CERN folks a great deal of trouble getting it back on its supercolliding feet. It is scheduled to be brought back online next month, but in the meantime, many theories have sprung up to explain the various failures.

One of these theories is that the Higgs boson has traveled back in time to prevent its own creation. This is not a joke, though you could easily be forgiven for thinking so. Two respectable physicists have published papers on the possibility, and they have even come up with a test they say will determine whether or not they’re right. One might argue, of course, that if the Higgs boson is crafty enough to kill its own grandfather, as it were, it would also cover its tracks.

Of course, other respectable scientists think this idea is… well, as ridiculous as it sounds. If the LHC fails yet again, though, you can be sure more people will start subscribing to this theory. The great physicist Niels Bohr once reportedly said “We all agree your theory is crazy. The question is whether it’s crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.”

As a parent, I do advise that it might not be a good idea to let your kids read about this Douglas Adams-esque idea. I can just picture my kids saying “Daddy, it’s not my fault! The Higgs boson went back in time and made me get a bad grade on my math test!” And how do you respond to that?

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