A crucial goal for the Large Hadron Collider is to find the long-sought Higgs boson. It might also create another Higgs particle that only travels through hidden dimensions, meaning it can pop in and out of any point in time.
Since the Higgs boson is the missing subatomic particle of the standard model of physics, the search for it hogs most of the headlines. (For a good breakdown on the Higgs boson, check out Dr. Dave Goldberg's earlier post.) But Vanderbilt theoretical physicists Tom Weiler and Chui Man Ho have imagined another kind of Higgs particle known as the Higgs singlet, and their calculations suggest it might be the weirdest particle we've yet imagined.
Their calculations depend on M-theory, a branch of string theory that posits the existence of at least ten to eleven dimensions, the majority of which are hidden from our comprehension. Although M-theory is seriously complex and not easily summarized, for our purposes we just need to know that, in general, these hidden dimensions generally don't interact with those that we experience, although some forces such as gravity are predicted to bleed between them. Indeed, this is why some physicists predict the LHC's incredibly high energy collisions will create short-lived micro black holes, which would be remnants of the interactions with extra dimensions.
With the Higgs singlet, the idea is that it would only exist in the fifth dimension, and that means it wouldn't be bound by any of the dimensions of our universe, including time. When the Higgs singlet decays into more ordinary particles, these would be deposited back into our normal universe, but - and here's the crucial bit - they would be detected at a completely arbitrary time.
Theoretically, the LHC could create a Higgs singlet whose decay particles appeared at the exact same moment it was created, or they might not be detected for another 10,000 years (that might be a little extreme, but you get the point), or - and this is the really intriguing part - the decay particles could be detected before the singlet itself was even generated.
It's that last bit that makes the detection of the Higgs singlet a fairly easy proposition. After all, if particles are suddenly detected before any collisions are scheduled to occur, then that would be good evidence of the Higgs singlet decaying back into our universe.
The physicists freely admit that this is a seriously out there idea, and they aren't arguing that this is even remotely probable. Still, they insist it doesn't actually violate any laws of physics, and best of all, as Tom Weiler explains, we don't have to worry about time paradoxes:
"One of the attractive things about this approach to time travel is that it avoids all the big paradoxes," Weiler said. "Because time travel is limited to these special particles, it is not possible for a man to travel back in time and murder one of his parents before he himself is born, for example. However, if scientists could control the production of Higgs singlets, they might be able to send messages to the past or future."
I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure we'll be OK as long as these Higgs singlets don't have grandfathers. That seems to be the trick to paradox-free time travel.
Via Discovery News.