29Mar2015

Large Hadron Collider Could Prove Parallel Universes

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Workers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research Center, which houses the Large Hadron Collider, in 2008. (The Associated Press)

If you’ve ever wondered what would have happened if you’d married your first love, or joined the services, or decided to choose  another career, the time soon may come when you can find out.

Mini Black Holes

Late last year physicists at Griffith University in Brisbane put forward a new quantum mechanics theory about the existence of parallel universes. According to the theory, these parallel worlds “exert a subtle repulsive force on our own universe.”

This unique multiverse theory was met with sneers from some other physicists, but its proponents are pushing forward. Another group of scientists believe the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva can prove the existence of those other universes by detecting “mini black holes.” They say this can be done when the collider is turned up to 11.

Upgrading

The world’s largest collider, operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is being started back up after two years of maintenance and upgrading. The collider’s collision energy has been increased by a factor of two, making the search for these theoretical parallel worlds possible. “In particle collisions,” writes NPR, “the higher the energy, the bigger the payoff, as the energy of the colliding particles gets translated into the masses of the debris, following the E=mc2 prescription.”

A wormhole is a theoretical ‘tunnel’ or shortcut, predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity, that links two places in space-time – visualised here

That would be, of course, Albert Einstein’s famous equation, which shows us how a small amount of matter can release massive amounts of energy. Einstein’s work is fundamental to the multiverse theories. Howard Wiseman is one of the physicists at Griffith University who subscribes to the “many interacting worlds” theory, which has been batted around since the 1950s.

Alternate Realities

“In the well-known ‘many worlds interpretation,’ each universe branches into a bunch of new universes each time a quantum measurement is made,” he wrote last fall. “All possibilities are therefore realized — in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonized by the Portuguese. But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all. On this score, our ‘many interacting worlds’ approach is completely different, as the name implies.”

Confused? Join the club. Wiseman admitted in an email to the Huffington Post that “any explanation of quantum phenomena is going to be weird, and standard quantum mechanics does not really offer any explanation at all — it just makes predictions for laboratory experiments. Our new explanation … is that there are ordinary (non-quantum) parallel worlds which interact in a particular and subtle way.”

Enter the Multiverse

Enter Ahmed Farag Ali of Egypt’s Zewail City of Science and Technology, Mir Faizal of the University of Waterloo and Mohammed M. Khalil, physicists who believe the Large Hadron Collider can provide evidence backing the existence of parallel universes. “Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualized,” Faizal said in an interview with the science news website Phys.org. “This cannot be tested, and so it is philosophy and not science.

This is not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions. As gravity can flow out of our universe into the extra dimensions, such a model can be tested by the detection of mini black holes at the Large Hadron Collider. We have calculated the energy at which we expect to detect these mini black holes. … If we do detect mini black holes at this energy, then we will know that both gravity’s rainbow (a theory about information leaving a black hole that ‘unites’ quantum mechanics and Einstein’s general relativity) and extra dimensions are correct.”

Revving It All Up

OK, these theories are difficult to comprehend, but one thing is coming through loud and clear: if we want to find out what has happened in our other lives — the good, the bad and the ugly — we need to dig out those mini black holes. Faizal says the collider will need to be ramped up to “at least 9.5 TeV (teraelectron volt)” to do this. The upgraded collider is now supposed to be able to reach 14 TeV, so no problem there.

This obviously might all come to nothing. But it appears the possibility does exist that the collider could poke into another dimension — one that, as Rod Serling once put it, “lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.” Remember the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” Source: Oregonian

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