Will the LHC’s Future Cancel Out Its Past?

By Andrew Grant | August 11, 2008 10:38 am

LHCWhen the Large Hadron Collider at CERN turns on for the first time in September, scientists may discover exciting new particles that either solidify or shatter the laws of physics. But until that happens, we might as well revel at the outrageous, creative theories surrounding the super-speed particle accelerator.

First we heard about the disaster that will occur when the LHC turns on, including miniature black holes that will swallow the planet; scientists quickly debunked that hypothesis. Now two physicists claim in a new study that no matter how hard we try, we may never turn the LHC on at all.

The study is authored by Holger Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya, who argue that the very particles the LHC produces will prevent the accelerator from ever being used. Harvard post-doc and CERN collaborator Kevin Black relates their argument to the grandfather paradox—that a particle like the Higgs boson goes back in time and prevents its own birth (i.e. the future changes the events of the present).

The authors reason that any accelerator which surpasses a certain threshold of super-high-energy collisions (thus producing many of these new particles) will never go into operation because it violates some yet-unknown universal law. As evidence, they provide the failed Superconducting Super Collider, which Congress canned in 1993 after spending $2 billion on the project. Because of these restrictions, they recommend that scientists run the LHC at lower energies than its potential. Furthermore, they ponder whether the outcome of a card game to determine the fate of the LHC would be influenced by future events.

It’s hard to decide which LHC downfall scenario is the most implausible. But to play devil’s advocate, the LHC project has already been delayed, and anything can happen before scientists flip that switch in September. So who knows, maybe there’s a chance that Nielsen and Ninomiya could be right: Perhaps the Higgs boson really is a suicidal version of Marty McFly from Back to the Future, unwavering in its quest to prevent its own birth. Still, we won’t be holding our breath on September 10.

Image: CERN

  • Robert I. Marsh II

    A Mobius Time-Rip (repeating causality loop), a Black Hole, or even an Expanding Quantum Wormhole??? There is a small band of scientists, physicists, and mathematicians scattered worldwide, whose theories flew in the face of the current interpreted ‘Standard Model’. This group is spread-out between ‘out-cast’ labeled, and those still active wihtin the scientific communities, but remain under a gag-order. They will not come forward against a predetermined verdict, since their un-published papers have been barred, and remain mute silent! This does not make their theories correct, but they should have been aloud the right of ‘Voice’ within their communities!


  • http://www.SaneScience.org SaneScience

    Man’s technology has exceeded his grasp. – ‘The World is not Enough’
    Zealous Nobel Prize hungry Physicists are racing each other and stopping at nothing to try to find the supposed ‘Higgs Boson'(aka God) Particle, among others, and are risking nothing less than the annihilation of the Earth and all Life in endless experiments hoping to prove a theory when urgent tangible problems face the planet. The European Organization for Nuclear Research(CERN) new Large Hadron Collider(LHC) is the world’s most powerful atom smasher that will soon be firing subatomic particles at each other at nearly the speed of light to create Miniature Big Bangs producing Micro Black Holes, Strangelets and other potentially cataclysmic phenomena.
    Particle physicists have run out of ideas and are at a dead end forcing them to take reckless chances with more and more powerful and costly machines to create new and never-seen-before, unstable and unknown matter while Astrophysicists, on the other hand, are advancing science and knowledge on a daily basis making new discoveries in these same areas by observing the universe, not experimenting with it and with your life.
    The LHC is a dangerous gamble as CERN physicist Alvaro De Rújula in the BBC LHC documentary, ‘The Six Billion Dollar Experiment’, incredibly admits quote, “Will we find the Higgs particle at the LHC? That, of course, is the question. And the answer is, science is what we do when we don’t know what we’re doing.” And CERN spokesmodel Brian Cox follows with this stunning quote, “the LHC is certainly, by far, the biggest jump into the unknown.”
    The CERN-LHC website Mainpage itself states: “There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions,…” Again, this is because they truly don’t know what’s going to happen. They are experimenting with forces they don’t understand to obtain results they can’t comprehend. If you think like most people do that ‘They must know what they’re doing’ you could not be more wrong. Some people think similarly about medical Dr.s but consider this by way of comparison and example from JAMA: “A recent Institute of Medicine report quoted rates estimating that medical errors kill between 44,000 and 98,000 people a year in US hospitals.” The second part of the CERN quote reads “…but what’s for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator,…” A molecularly changed or Black Hole consumed Lifeless World? The end of the quote reads “…as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe.” These experiments to date have so far produced infinitely more questions than answers but there isn’t a particle physicist alive who wouldn’t gladly trade his life to glimpse the “God particle”, and sacrifice the rest of us with him. Reason and common sense will tell you that the risks far outweigh any potential(as CERN physicists themselves say) benefits.
    This quote from National Geographic exactly sums this “science” up: “That’s the essence of experimental particle physics: You smash stuff together and see what other stuff comes out.”
    Find out more about that “stuff” below;
    Popular Mechanics – “World’s Biggest Science Project Aims to Unlock ‘God Particle'” – http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/extreme_machines/4216588.html

  • http://leftwingfox.blogspot.com Left_Wing_Fox

    That was quick…

  • http://www.lhcfacts.org JTankers

    Beams may begin September 10th, but collissions will not begin before October 21 at slowly increasing energies.

    If micro black holes are created, Dr. Rossler’s calculations estimate 50 months to 50 years to grow large enough to destroy Earth.

    Abstract below from Dr. Rossler’s plea to the world, copy available on LHCFacts.org.

    A nightmarish situation, that can still be hoped to be averted in time through communication within the scientific community, is drawn attention to. Only a few weeks remain to find out whether the danger is real or nothing but a mirage. After this time window is closed, it will take years until we know whether or not we are doomed. The story line has all the features of a best-selling novel. The reader is asked to contribute constructively.

    Quote from Dr. Otto E. Rossler, Professor Theoretical Biochemist, visiting Professor of Theoretical Physics, inventor of the Rossler Attractor, founder of Endophysics, winner of the 2003 Chaos Award of the University of Liege and the 2003 Rene Descartes Award.

  • Mike

    These doomsday scenarios are all nonsense. Collisions millions of times more energetic than those of the LHC take place in nature (including in our atmosphere) all the time and have been taking place for million of years.

    The relatively puny energy of the LHC isn’t going to do anything that nature hasn’t already been doing since before our planet existed.

    Relax, you’ll live longer that way than worrying about highly implausible scenarios.

  • Joey

    As for naturally occurring high-energy cosmic rays creating MBHs, this is theoretical also and has never been observed or proven. “What is different, physicists admit, is that the fragments from cosmic rays will go shooting harmlessly through the Earth at nearly the speed of light, but anything created when the beams meet head-on in the collider will be born at rest relative to the laboratory and so will stick around and thus could create havoc.” From ‘New York Times’

  • SJ

    I agree with you Mike 100%. You seem a very intelligent guy.

    There is always someone out there with their ‘sandwich board of doom’ saying “X amount of days til the world ends”

    Come on people we arent Nostrodamus, and we wont know anything until we try. Sort of like you wouldnt know you were going to do well at something until you try it and work hard, a little thing we all learned at school. Scientists are a curious people, but we all are in many ways, when we sit there and say “Where did we come from?” “Are we alone in this vast Universe?” “Is there really a GOD?” etc…. Hunaity is a curious race, but unlike the cat (as in curiosity ‘killed’ the cat) our brains are more superior and careful planning is taken into consideraction with this sort of experimentations.

    So people please dont worry, the only destruction we should be worrying about is Terrorists, and Unstable people (Religious fanatics) i.e. kill all infadels sorry i am not one of those I believe in what I can see not which i cant and I believe in science.

    Live life to the fullest and live life like it were your last then you will be happy without the distruption of evil people and believe in the greater good of society of the men and women that are able to do the research for us ‘the scientists’.

    Sleep Well for I am off to bed :0)

  • Trevor K

    Well, so far we’re all still here, and apparently the BFG (excuse me, LHC) is broken, so we all get to worry about it for another year. In all honesty, I’m much more worried about Pakistan dropping a nuke on our heads than a giant flashlight ending the universe. The first post should take care of most of you worry-warts. The vast majority of these hypothetical situations were dreamed up by nuts looking for publicity. As for temporal Einstein-Rosen bridges, They’re too unstable to even let light pass through before they collapse, and as long as we’re talking about proof, they’re only theoretical. Besides, as one poster said, the relative energies we’re talking about are tiny. Look at the quasars and galaxies that eject material from their cores: these materials are moving at 99.97% lightspeed, which pragmatically is the same as the LHC, and the universe isn’t over yet. Oh, and for you skeptics, most of these globs of material are PLANET sized.

  • caleb shamblin

    there is soo much going on in our universe, that if it were right in front of us we wouldnt know what to do about it. aside from mess with it and test its limits, observe, and possibly destroy it.
    i do believe that the lhc could possibly link us to a mirror universe.
    if a black hole is a possibility from result of the collider than why not.
    on another note, lets say this does make some strange portal to our universe counterpart then it proves the theory of a austrailian scientist that mirror matter exists. . .
    i think we should at any cost experiment with as much of this that our technoology will allow. and if it destroys our planet, its not the end of the universe.

  • Geno – USA

    Mike Says – Don’t worry about “highly implausible” scenarios.

    As “highly implausible” as a run on the banks? As “highly implausible” as a 500 year flood happening twice in 10 years?

    Mike, if the possibility of causing great harm is only “highly implausible”, I suggest that physicists wait until it is “completely impossible” before proceeding. The discoveries that are promoted by the CERN people are not worth that much to the average person and do not justify risks of this nature and magnitude.

    Remember when reputable scientists were saying that the atmospheric nuclear tests were not risky? We are still dealing with the effects of that blunder almost 60 years after the fact.

  • Matthew Weflen

    Geno –

    How exactly are we to determine what is “completely impossible” without first testing the limits of what are “probable” and “improbable?” Then, how are we to truly determine with logical certainty that something is “completely impossible” simply because we have not observed it?

    Your comment betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method and of the problem of inductive knowledge. If our culture had proceeded by your rubric for scientific advances, we’d still be living in mud huts and hunting and gathering. We certainly wouldn’t have the thrill of posting comments on the Internet.

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  • http://www.stefancarter.com Paanchajanyadharaaya

    good read

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  • Dan

    Robert Marsh: “There is a small band of scientists, physicists, and mathematicians scattered worldwide, whose theories flew in the face of the current interpreted ‘Standard Model’.”….;. Robert, frankly, you don’t know what you are talking about. There are essentially no mainstream physicist who think the “Standard Model” is correct. The word “Standard” identifies a specific model well known to be incomplete and even wrong; it is NOT merely a modifier used to indicate common wisdom. Also in academics there are no “gag-orders”. Freedom of ideas is the core philosophy behind academics in any reasonably well adjusted nation. Not too some ideas aren’t met with skepticism. Of course some are. Wildly new ideas require some vetting. That’s true for building passenger planes too I hope.

  • http://ofhills.com/blog/ Oscar

    I would suggest people go to


    and actually _read_ these papers. They are fascinating, even to those of us whose math is no longer up to reading them with critical rigor.

    The hysteria about the LHC is one thing, but the massive resistance to Nielsen and Ninomiya’s ideas is even more astonishing to me. They are crystal clear, of course, that their hypothesis about the LHC potentially violating the conservation of the baryon number, and thus being unable to function because initial conditions must lead to a future in which baryons are conserved, is very unlikely to be true.

    Their point is that they have some mathematical reasons to suspect that it might be, and an interesting proposal about how to test it. It is an entirely rational paper, to say the least.

    All I know is that there has been no more exciting time to be alive if you’re a physics lover. As for black holes consuming the earth, all science points to that not happening, and it’s good science. We didn’t fall off the earth into the mouths of dragons, right?

    I would also suggest that once the LHC is running, and it is my guess that it will be, the folks who have been worried about the end of the world take a close look at themselves and their attitudes. See if you can figure out why you have been so distrustful, afraid, and negativistic. You’ll have time.

  • Tenko

    Assuming the truth of the grandfather paradox, that the LHC will do anything in order to prevent itself from turning on…

    …we now have a method for making people immortal. Think about it.

    Hook up General Johnson Jamison to a machine which will monitor the general’s lifesigns. Design the interfact to turn the LHC on if the general dies. If the paradox holds true, what will happen is, the LHC will prevent the general from dying in order to stop the “on” signal from being transmitted to the LHC. 😉

  • Tenko

    Oh, even better…

    Construct a platform which is held up by a bar. Design the mechanism so that on a certain date the bar will automatically be pulled from the platform. Once the bar is pulled, the platform would be designed to dump whatever is on top of it (nothing will be placed on top of it) into a large hole. The hole will have sensors in it which will detect whether or not a large amount of gold has been dropped into it. If anything other than 2,000 pounds of gold falls into the hole, the “on” signal will be sent to the LHC.

    Another way to make the future give you what you want by threatening to blow up the universe. Isn’t violence great? 😉

  • Berényi Péter

    16. Oscar Says (October 23rd, 2009 at 7:28 am):
    “They are crystal clear, of course, that their hypothesis about the LHC potentially violating the conservation of the baryon number, and thus being unable to function because initial conditions must lead to a future in which baryons are conserved, is very unlikely to be true”
    “As for black holes consuming the earth, all science points to that not happening, and it’s good science”

    If there is a back-action in time to prevent violation of baryon number conservation, it would prevent black hole formation as well. Not only the tiny little holes that are supposed to pop out of empty space in the LHC, but also the huge ones suspected to lurk in galaxy centers.

    Black holes do consume everything, including baryons, but they have no baryon number whatsoever.

    The N &. N hypothesis has far reaching consequences to geometrodynamics.

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  • http://www.jazminxuydj.com Lecia Dunklee

    Hey, I just forwarded this to some friends, loving it!


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