Sunday, October 18, 2009

St Luke's Day

It's Sunday afternoon and I am trying to catch up on the backlog from the week. Taking a break I came across this report about the Hadron Collider in Switzerland, which broke down not long after being switched on:

'In an article worthy of the mantle of truth being far stranger than fiction (science fiction or otherwise), the New York Times writes of two prominent physicists who propose the setbacks at Hadron — and the failures of other physics facilities intent to seek out the same physics holy grail, the Higgs boson — may not be accidental at all (just a bit strange for us lay folk to wrap our minds around).

It goes like this:

The Higgs boson, a proposed but not yet documented elementary particle, is theorized to be that which gives matter its properties of mass. But physicists Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya speculate that the particle is, to put in vernacular terms, not a toy.

As the Times’ Dennis Overbye writes:

"A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists has 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."

The pair fully understands how batty it all sounds, and that neither the recent Hadron failure, nor the U.S. pulling the plug on its large collider project in the 1990s, provides proof of anything. That’s why they did the math, showing all their work, indicating the theoretical viability of their strange sounding notion.'

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