Last August the Large Hadron Collider, the giant particle accelerator in Europe, was set to begin smashing protons together in the hope of producing the long-sought Higgs boson. The Higgs particle is considered the missing link in the commonly accepted model of physics, so physicists were quite disappointed when the supermachine was put out of action for months because an electrical connection—one of out of 10,000—was badly soldered. (The doomsayers who feared that flipping the switch on the LHC would destroy the world were, naturally, quite relieved.)
Now its back on track and ready to fire up in December. Maybe. If God—or time traveling particles—doesn’t stop it again:
In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.
Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that 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.
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“It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,” Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, “Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is their guess, he went on, “that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”