Does the Universe resist the advent of the God particle?

There’s a report in the New York Times today that some physicists are suggesting an unconventional reason why we have been having such a difficult time observing the Higgs Particle (sometimes called the “God” particle).

“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.

Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, put this idea forward in a series of papers with titles like ‘Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal’ and ‘Search for Future Influence From LHC,’ posted on the physics Web site arXiv.org in the last year and a half.

[…]‘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 In an unpublished essay, Dr.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.’”

Read the full article here.

While this idea seems almost silly at first glance, it’s not really all that unusual a concept to people who play with the theories of black holes. The cosmic censorship hypothesis is a rule of thumb that argues that while non-sensical and paradoxical mathematical solutions exist to physical systems, the Universe puts them inside an event horizon so that they don’t “mess up” the rest of reality.

It’s of course a bit more subtle than that, and the explanation obviously overly anthropomorphizes the Universe as having volitional will, but the idea isn’t that outlandish. Given time loops, etc, if the creation of Higgs Particle were to wipe out the Universe, then the Universe which we see would already be destroyed – which means we wouldn’t see it. It’s similar to the anthropic principle isn’t it?

Of course this supposes that the creation of a Higgs Particle would have disastrous effects – but it is a neat reminder of what happens to logic when we rotate to a vantage point where we are no longer bound by time.

UPDATE: One of the researchers mentioned in the article explains the background (and weighs the arguments) here.

Author: Nicholas Knisely

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...