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The Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator is under the spotlight again after two Vanderbilt University theoretical physicsist theorised that the particle accelerator could maybe become mankind’s first time machine.

One of the goals of the Large Hadron Collider is the find the hypothetical massive elementary particle called “Higgs boson“. It’s predicted to exist by the standard model of particle physics but so far no trace of it has been found. The particle is theorized to be traveling  in a fifth unknown dimension and therefore not be constrained by time in our universe.

Now two theoretical physicists, Tom Wiler and Chui Man Ho came up with a theory that states that there could be another Higgs particle called the Higgs singlet. It could be generated by the LHC at the same time as the creation of the “normal” Higgs boson and would be able to travel in a fifth dimension beyond our four-dimensional universe. “it’s a longshot”, but it “doesn’t violate any laws of physics.” says the physicists.

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“Time machine” is a very loose term in this case, as you couldn’t actually use it to transport yourself through time (although there is a wormhole-LHC-time traveling theory that disagrees with this point), but the LHC might (might!) generate a type of Higgs particle that cuts through time like a hot knife through butter, and its decay particles appear in our universe before its own creation event.

According to the physicists’ calculations, the Higgs singlet may be able to travel in a fifth dimension. But for this theory to hold true, our universe needs to abide by the laws of “M-theory,” a theory that requires there to be 10 or 11 dimensions (basically an extension of string theory).

In M-theory, our Universe is only one of many universes that can be envisaged as layers of an onion skin, each layer being a different universe. The skin that represents our Universe is known as a “brane” and it is stacked atop other branes as part of the “bulk.”

In the bulk, some forces, such as gravity, are predicted to permeate from one brane to the next. The details of M-theory are complex, and as yet unconfirmed, but the high-energy collisions inside the LHC may produce artifacts (such as short-lived micro-black holes) that reveal the presence of these predicted extra dimensions.

So, assuming M-theory describes the real nature of our Universe, how could we detect a Higgs singlet? If this particle only travels in a fifth dimension, time in our Universe isn’t of consequence to that particle, so it could be created by the LHC in the fifth dimension, and when it decays, its “decay particles” (i.e. everyday particles that the Higgs singlet will create after it dies) will be detected at an arbitrary time.

This arbitrary time could be in the past, before the particle was even generated, or even in the future. Therefore, if physicists see particles spontaneously pop into existence before an LHC collision even occurs, that could be indicative of the Higgs singlet decay particles appearing in our universe. Simple!

“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.

(Via io9 & Discovery News)