Response to Theorized LHC Time Travel

I read an article on alt.Engadget the other day about possibly sending a Higgs particle back through time using the Large Hadron Collider.  I know it is just a throw-away science article that is interesting enough to make it to the mainstream press, but I couldn’t help responding.  The article is based on this article from MSNBC which took its information from this paper.  The article posits that theorists claim the collider could produce a particle, the Higgs singlet, that could  travel backwards through time.  That’s all well and good, and I am not versed deeply enough in theoretical physics to refute their claims.  In fact, I’m hoping it’s actually true.

Here’s where it starts to get a little dicey, though: the claim is that since they can only send particles backwards through time, avoiding all time-travel paradoxes.  That’s a big claim.  Any time you start messing with causalitylogic becomes tricky, reality becomes uncertain.  Just a particle is going back through time, limiting time travel to just information, so you couldn’t go into the past and kill your own father before you were conceived, they claim.

The problem with that line of thought is it doesn’t acknowledge the effect information can have on a time line.  I can’t go back in time,  but what if I sent information back instructing someone to kill my father.  He dies just the same, I was never born and the paradox still stands.  Information can have just as big an impact as any physical presence.  We are, after all, just highly complex information.

So that is my main argument against getting too excited about this possibility.  I haven’t even addressed how far from reality these claims actually are.  This is all just theorizing.  The Higgs singlet is a theoretical effect of creating the theoretical Higgs boson, the main objective of the LHC.  But we have still never detected a Higgs boson, much less its byproducts.

Oh, and if you look at the scientific paper, they wouldn’t actually be sending particles through our time.  They would be sending properties of the particles through a “closed time-like curve.”  So, really, the mainstream article over-emphasized the whole endeavor.  But it’s still fun to think about.

I also wanted to discuss another implication of time travel.  It has surely occurred to some that if this would allow us to send information back through time we should be receiving information from the future right now.  Naturally, we would want to share our scientific breakthrough with ourselves in the past.  Since we are not receiving that information, this must not work, right?

Well, remember that the way we would be sending this information through time is with a Higgs singlet, a particle we have not encountered yet.  Since we don’t have a Higgs singlet, we don’t have a detector for one.  So our future selves could send all the singlet-information back to us that they want, but we would have no way to even know they were sending it.  Upon discovering the particle and building a receiver, we could find we are bombarded with messages from the future.

Where does that leave us?

We have a theory about a particle that we could send back and forth through time–kind of.  The mainstream media dumbed the idea down and sold it as a science article, without real science in the article.  Sending information through time is just as consequential as sending objects and people.  The ability to send information backwards through time is dependent on the destination having the means to receive that information.

Read science articles with curiosity and skepticism and be willing to ask questions and discuss your thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “Response to Theorized LHC Time Travel

  1. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

    • Why, thank you. I can assure you I am nowhere near a famous blogger. I try though. Follow my posts and let me know if the stay this good. Thanks for visiting.

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