Time travel, God's particle and Higgs singlet: how messages might be sent to the past or future
Scientists believe they are one step closer to creating time travel.
American physicists from Vanderbilt University believe they may be able to use the Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest atom smasher buried underground near Geneva, to send a type of matter called the Higgs singlet into the past.
But they're unsure if the Higgs singlet actually exists and whether the machine can produce it, according to a report by Live Science.
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The Higgs singlet is related to another hypothesised particle called the Higgs boson, dubbed "God's particle" because it is associated with giving other particles mass, which the 27-kilometre long atom smasher may produce.
If the Higgs boson is created, the Higgs singlet may also appear, scientists say.
The Higgs singlet may be able to jump through space and time, travel through a hidden dimension, and then re-enter our dimension forwards or backwards in time, physicists Professor Thomas Weiler and graduate fellow Chui Man Ho believe.
"One of the attractive things about this approach to time travel is that it avoids all the big paradoxes," Professor Weiler said in a statement on research website arxiv.org.
"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."
The singlet, a highly technical term to describe the particle that doesn't interact with matter in the usual way, and boson are both named after theoretical physicist Peter Higgs.
The researcher's study is based on M theory, or "the theory of everything", which attempts to unite the cause of all matter.
But it's much too early to start thinking like Back to the Future's Marty McFly.
University of Sydney Associate Professor of Physics Kevin Varvell said the study was highly speculative, something the researchers themselves admit.
"From my reading of the paper, these guys themselves aren't going crazy over the idea of time travel," Professor Varvell said.
"They explicitly say we're not talking about time travel for humans, they're talking about potentially one might be able to send information through the production of these particles.
"But they're also saying that's very, very highly speculative as well.
He said it's one of many ideas that proposes using the collider and it is serious scientific work.
"But, again, I think we need to find the Higgs boson or something like it, before we can entertain other new particles being produced in association with it."
The Large Hadron Collider, which cost more than $4 billion to build, has attracted plenty of controversy.
Before it started working, some feared it would create black holes and its operation was delayed several times due to a string of technical problems, including a liquid helium leak in 2008.