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Time-traveling particles in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider – Part I

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Four years ago, Vanderbilt Professor of Physics, Tom Weiler, and graduate fellow Chiu Man Ho, now at Michigan State University, published a theory proposing that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could be creating a peculiar kind of particle that’s capable of traveling ahead and back in time.

Time traveling particles? With the LHC being fired up again we needed to hear more, so we talked to Professor Weiler, hot off the heels of his recent appearance on Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.

Here’s his take (in italics) on the theory behind the time-traveling particles:

In our 3+1 space-time dimensions, the only ways found to time-travel and to remain consistent with Einstein’s General Relativity, require a form of matter never seen, matter with negative energy.

So my postdoc at the time, Chiu Man Ho, and I, asked if this unfortunate result might be evaded in a theory with extra dimensions, as is the case in a credible model called “string theory.”

Since gravity is postulated to exist everywhere that there is space, gravity waves or quantized gravity particles called gravitons should exist in these extra dimensions. Some string models allow certain particles, the so-called “gauge singlets”, which are postulated particles having no electric, weak, or strong charges, to also travel from our space-time into these extra dimensions. We chose a hypothetical relative of the newly discovered Higgs boson, the “Higgs singlet,” as our time-traveler.  The choice was motivated by simplicity of the model, and the reality of the Higgs.

There are different versions of time travel. We looked for the version that produces “closed timelike curves,” CTCs.

These are paths that return a time-traveler, here the particle, to its starting point with no time appearing to have elapsed according to the observer, although time has elapsed on the particles own clock. In a CTC, any positive time of travel is negated by an equal amount of negative time of travel, as seen by the observer.

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