Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reading God's Mind

For the past several thousand years certain members of the human race have been accepted as people who knew what God had in mind for the rest of us. Through their study of the Torah, Bible, Koran, Vedas and other writings sacred to various religions, the prophets, rabbis, priests, pastors, seers and others have been the purveyors of the contents of God’s mind. It’s their job, and we respect their expertise.
But when the workings of God’s mind are revealed by nuclear physicists, that’s not their job – that’s news – and we are rightly a bit skeptical. It’s the suggestion of Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, that an expected event in the near future is something that God does not want us to create, hence He is causing a ripple to travel back through time from that event to the present day in order to sabotage any possibility of its occurrence. It’s like the paradox of going back in time to kill your grandfather. And believe it or not, while not exactly buying in to the idea, other reputable scientists are not actually dismissing it either.
At this point a little background is appropriate. While time travel does not happen in the macro world, scientists use the concept to describe certain situations in the micro world of particle physics. A working definition of “causation” is as follows: For events A and B, we may say that A causes B if all the following propositions are true:

1.)    B follows A,
2.)    If A had not occurred, neither would B,
3.)    Either A is in physical contact with B, or there is a series of events x connecting A and B, such that if x is interrupted, B does not occur.

This rough definition is true in both the macro and the micro worlds. However, under certain conditions in particle physics, the whole thing works in reverse. It’s important to understand that it’s not the case that B now causes A; it’s really going backwards from the result to the beginning. It is as if Humpty Dumpty’s innards flowed back into the shell, which reassembled itself and hopped backwards unto the wall. Because of the constraints of both language and mathematics, physicists say that the events “went backwards in time.”
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a tremendously powerful “atom smasher” straddling the border between Switzerland and France. It was completed last year after 15 years in construction at a cost of 9 billion dollars.
 Scientists hope that the LHC will be able to discover the Higgs boson, the “God particle” as it has been called by somewhat imaginative scientists. The existence of this particle has been predicted by the extremely accurate mathematics of particle physics, but it has never actually been discovered. Nielsen and Ninomiya theorize that the almighty does not want us to create this particle because it is “abhorrent to nature.” As a result, He sent a ripple backwards in time to cause the LHC to break down.
Nine days after the LHC started up in September, 2008, a faulty electrical connection failed, which led to a cascading series of breakdowns throughout the system. Operations were halted until November 20, 2009. Nielsen and Ninomiya would not be surprised if the LHC continued to be troubled by similar unexplained delays and breakdowns.
I think these men are reaching quite a bit in their explanation. It was determined that the connection failed because of a leak in the solder. How about this for an explanation?: The workman who did the original soldering job fouled up.
Scientists have been vigorously, and I believe rightly, protesting the injection of religious beliefs into the science classroom. How about leaving the reading of God’s mind to the clergy? It’s not only common courtesy, in this case it’s also common sense.

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