Skip to main content

Physicists worried about time-travelling sabotage: The elusive Higgs boson


A Feynmann diagram of a Higgs boson being produced 

The scientists are worried. The men in lab coats at the CERN supercollider in Switzerland are concerned that one of their cherished experiments may be doomed to failure – from the future. In other words, something from the future is sabotaging all attempts to find a particular elementary particle, in this case, the Higgs boson. For clarification: The Higgs boson elementary particle is a building block of our universe that doesn’t have any substructure; in other words, once this particle is found in the debris of smashed subatomic particles, physicists will have found the ultimate building block of matter. The Higgs is important, and fundamental to our deconstruction of the universe because it imbues other elementary particles with mass.

computer simulation of a Higgs boson event

Two prominent physicists, Holger Bech Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, hypothesized that an influence emanating from the future is jinxing the search for the Higgs. What is being implied is that there is a directed intelligence thwarting our search for this particle. God? Our future selves trying to prevent an apocalyptic future where the Higgs unleashes havoc? Or simply random happenstance that’s a tempest in a teacup? It’s been pointed out that the Higgs, if it exists, represents a profound finality in our deconstruction of reality. But the question of why our search for the Higgs is being sabotaged isn’t definable at this point. How would we find the Higgs boson? By accelerating protons to a level of seven trillion electron volts around an 18-mile underground tunnel and then smashing them together. The resulting debris and energy released presumably would yield the Higgs particle. The problem is that since the "on" switch for the CERN supercollider was flipped, "things" seemed to happen to derail our quest for the Higgs. During the construction of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, there was an explosion. After startup in 2008, a malfunction shut down the collider for more than a year. One of CERN’s scientists was recently arrested for alleged terrorist links.

The problems don’t end with the Swiss. America had spent billions of dollars on the its own Superconducting Supercollider, which was then cancelled in 1993. The hidden hand of Fate? Who knows. Clearly, there are metaphysical gremlins prowling the corridor toward the discovery of the Higgs boson elementary particle. The naysayers who opposed the CERN supercollider raised ghastly prospects if the machine went online and started smashing atomic particles: a black hole could potentially be created, with very bad results for Planet Earth. There apparently is an element of viability in this credulity-challenging assertion; yes, very small black holes could be created while particle-smashing, but they would last for a very small fraction of time and would not pose the planet-gulping danger touted by hyper-caffeinated people who don’t have degrees in physics. Our existence as a species will not end as a cheesy Hollywood movie where we’re all sucked into a cosmic drainhole while the astronauts on the Space Station ponder how to repopulate the galaxy. (And besides, there are too few of them for a viable gene pool.) 

Alchemists pursuing the Philosopher's Stone 

But quirkiness of experimentation and gremlins in the test-tubes has precedents. The most famous were the experiments ‘spoiled’ by German physicist Wolfgang Pauli. Pauli was an experimental physicist who had a reputation for causing equipment in labs to fail for no reason. They would either malfunction or cease to work altogether. Many of Pauli’s colleagues took his seeming psychokinetic effect on their lab tools seriously, with his close friend physicist Otto Stern sternly warning Pauli to stay away from his lab –permanently. Another incident took place at the University of Gottingen where a measuring tool malfunctioned. Later, after being jokingly questioned by the scientists performing their experiments, Pauli admitted that at the time, he was on a train station at Gottingen waiting for a connection. These aren’t urban myths – the incidents actually occurred, and respected scientist Pauli was himself convinced of the merits for studying paranormal and psychokinetic phenomenon. So can scientists straddle the line between observing the phenomenal world and directly influencing it? It’s only been 400 years since Alchemy, that curious mix of science and occult practice, was an accepted endeavor in Europe, with no less than Sir Isaac Newton himself pursuing the holy grail of alchemy, the Philosopher’s Stone. The quest to create this substance, which reputedly could transform base metals such as lead into gold, eventually came to be a metaphor for the alchemist’s inner transformation, a burnishing of the soul into shining cleanliness at which point only then would alchemical secrets be revealed. But with an ironic twist; because the alchemist had purified his psyche, he no longer needed material enrichment, so the quest for gold transmutation, as it turns out, is a red herring, a primer to prod the alchemist into spiritual enlightenment. There is a theory on the fringe of the scientific community that the physical laws which govern the cosmos haven’t always been stitched into the fabric of our reality. They evolve into being, just as an acorn births an oak tree, or Einstein’s ‘E=mc2’ laid the foundations for research that led to atomic fission. Scientific revelations aren’t so much discovered, as they are an inward revelation to the scientist who’s endured psychic trials to perceive them. Interestingly, this theory resonates with certain aspects of quantum physics, where an observer has a direct influence on a quantum event.

Does the Higgs boson quest fall into this muddy, unquantifiable sphere where the possibility of perceiving it depends entirely on the psychic, spiritual and emotionally evolved state of the scientist? Don’t discount that possibility just quite yet. As stated above, Sir Isaac Newton was an ardent alchemist. On a non-occult level, his alchemy pursuits could very well have allowed him to think outside the box of the 17th Century, and enter a mindset which allowed him to come up with the Theory of Gravity. As the alchemist, perhaps Newton was a vessel for inspiration through which the Theory of Gravity seeped into our human knowledge base. So perhaps it’s not so much that something from the future is sabotaging our quest for the Higgs grail, but rather, might the good scientists at CERN perhaps need to burnish their inner alchemical souls a bit? After all, it’s just as good an explanation as Professor Nielsen and Professor Ninomiya’s hypothesis of intervention from the future.