Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Future Preventing The LHC From Working?

Two authors, Holger Nielse and Masao Ninomiya, have been cooking up a crazy theory which can be read in detail from their articles here, here and here.

Basically, they put forward the idea that perhaps the reason we keep failing to find the Higgs boson is that something from the future is stopping us from doing it.  From their latest article:
This previous work was concerned with looking for backward causation [noting] bad luck for large Higgs producing machines, such as LHC and the never finished SSC (Super- conducting Super Collider) stopped by Congress because of such bad luck, so as not to allow them to work.
So, in other words, perhaps the "bad luck" of the SSC being stopped by congress and the more recent bad luck in getting the LHC working comes from causing originating from the future.

Dennis Overbye has this puts it like this:
[Perhaps] 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...“It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,”
Now, I know of scientists that think this is such crack-pottery that they are furious such papers have been successfully posted on  This is really crazy stuff.

But, if it is forever the case that potential Higgs producing machines have such bizarre bad luck at least we will have one theory why. :)


  1. That's why my time machine keeps failing! My future self sees the folly and is sabotaging my efforts! I knew it had to be something like that. That means it really does work! I'm a success!

    I think this might have something to do with my not being rich and famous too.

  2. Stan,

    Yeah, I think my future self is plaguing me with all kinds of issues for no other reason than a practical joke.

  3. If I understand right, this was actually published in a real journal.
    So here's the question: How did this get published? Is this good science? What is the selection process and how does this differ from any other wacky idea? Is science really biased against things like ID or Atlantis research? Is it because the authors are reputable?

  4. Stan,

    First thing to say is: things like this do not usually get published in physics journals. As I have said, there are some angry scientists over this.

    In this case it turns out the authors are normally very reputable and one is in fact the editor of the journal it was published in so there seems to be something funny there. However, I believe it still had to pass the approval of some outside referee and it appears it has.

    I guess the referee figured "given the right assumptions using good science yields these wacky results" and so gave approval.

    But again, realize this usually doesn't happen and just because there is an anomaly here and there doesn't mean you should start dismissing what is printed in physics journals. These instances are very rare and require the fortuitous combination of 1. A very reputable author, 2. Heavy influence over the editor (In this case was an author), 3, A very lenient referee who will pass articles off as good science through technicalities.

    I'm sure all scientific journals have a few skeletons in the closet but the vast majority of what is printed is very serious science.

  5. However, given some errors and wacky ideas do get published I personally, and I think everyone else should too, hold off on believing something is good science until the majority of the community have embraced it.

    In defense of my own wacky claims: It is hands down the mainstream consensus that inflation or something very similar to it must have taken place in the early universe. Furthermore, it is the nearly unanimous claim, by people who work on this, that inflation seems to have eternal properties that naturally produce some type of multiverse.

    There are literally hundreds of journal articles, many very highly cited, making such claims. That doesn't make it true, but it is a requirement in my mind for making statements like "people should consider taking this stuff seriously".

    *I will never, on this blog, tell anyone to take an idea seriously that isn't almost unanimously supported by a reasonably large physics literature.*

  6. However, though I may not tell you to take crazy idea X seriously, I will still report it because I am always amused by reading the latest crazy ideas (But I don't take them seriously).

    "Is science really biased against things like ID or Atlantis research?"

    One difference is ID has been around for a long time and doesn't seem to go away so yes, there seems to be a major backlash. Crazy ideas like the above come but they also seem to go away. If a movement started with people giving science as many problems as ardent ID supporters do I think there would be much less tolerance here as well.

  7. Aside from the fact that this would violate causality, it sounds like a fine idea.

    Having seen the peer-review process up close, I have learned that it really only works as intended for major publications, which in my sub-field (solar astrophysics) means Science, Nature, the Astrophysical Journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Solar Physics, and maybe a couple others. If a paper is rejected by one journal, there is always some less respected journal with lower standards. Essentially, if you have a PhD in your field and have at some point published something decent, you can get just about anything published in a peer-reviewed journal, but that might mean publishing in the International Journal of Modern Physics, as these people did.


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