The Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, propelling charged particles to high speeds and smashing them together in the name of science. It also might be a time machine.
At least that's what a long-shot theory put forth by Tom Weiler and Chui Man Ho suggests. If this wacky pair's 'sounds crazy but it just might work' theory is true, then the gigantic machine hidden beneath the earth near Geneva, Switzerland, could be the first machine capable of sending matter backwards in time.
"Our theory is a long shot," admitted Weiler, who is a physics professor at Vanderbilt University, "but it doesn't violate any laws of physics or experimental constraints."
The theory is also based on other scientists' theories about yet another theory, so proving it correct will be quite the task.
One of the main functions of the Large Hadron Collider is to generate a Higgs boson, the (as of right now) hypothetical elementary particle that would explain why protons, electrons, and neutrons have mass. That's theory one.
Should the Large Hadron Collider produce one of these, some scientist theorise that it will also produce a second particle known as a Higgs singlet at the same time.
That's theory two.
If those theories work out, Weiler and Chui Man Ho believe those singlets will have the ability to travel via a fifth dimension, moving backwards and forwards in time.
"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."
Messages like, "Kill one of my parents", for instance.
This is all based on M-theory, a theory that can explain all of the mysterious magical forces around us like gravity and such, but requires extra dimensions to do so, say 10 or 11. The theory has led some to believe that our dimension is merely a four-dimensional membrane floating along the space time continuum. It's all very Doctor Who. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.
Proving this wild theory would rely on a lot of theoretical factors falling into place. Once those singlets start showing up, scientists would need to check to see if their decay products spontaneously appear with the particles, a sure sign that there's time travel going on.
It's an incredibly long shot, but the duo have a paper published on it now, so if this time travel does occur, they totally called it, and that's what science is all about.