Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009
The New York Times ran a story this week about the radical scientific view that perhaps the Large Hadron Collider broke last year because nature can't handle Higgs particles and any device that could produce them therefore breaks or otherwise doesn't get built because it is 'sabotaged by its own future'. I haven't read the papers by Holger Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya yet, so it's entirely possible that what I'm about to say simply rehashes their own arguments -- and I'm sure I'll hear about it if this is the case -- but it occurs to me that this sort of time travel could take place without anything actually traveling backward in time. What if Higgs particles are like boulders in the stream? If you put boulders in a stream of water it can ripple back and create a backlog upstream, even if no single particle actually travels backwards. This backlog of particles, traveling slower than their peers on either side, and slowing down those that are behind ('before') them in the timestream, could have a causal effect on those particles that are earlier than the boulder in the timestream, even though they have no direct knowledge of the boulder. This is punk science, with the kind of intellectual rigor suitable only for soft-hard science fiction stories, but I thought it was an interesting idea to think about.
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