As you know, Bob, the Large Hadron Collider broke, after it was turned on and demonstrated to function, but before any full design energy collisions took place.

Before the LHC there was the SSC which also met its demise in strange ways.

Coincidence?
I think not…

Now these are large, complex, expensive machines.
As such they are subject to political whims, and engineering flaws.
But, some of the smartest people on Earth have teamed up to get together the resources and build and operate these supercolliders, to probe physics at the highest energies. And they’ve always worked before.

On the other hand, it has been conjectured that collisions at such energies would destroy the Earth.

This can, in principle, be remedied. Is the LHC destroying the Earth?

But, what if the Quantum Zeno’s Paradox is not enough to save the Earth.
What if blog readers fail to click often enough?

Well, the Earth would be destroyed. Some of the time.
In which case, of course, we would not be here to blog about it.
So, anthropic selection guarantees that in fact I am in a universe, of all the possible universes, in which either:

I) Operating an LHC class collider does not destroy the Earth.

II) Or, any attempt to operate an LHC class collider has failed, so far.

Clearly, a priori, case I) is more probable.
Unless, of course, you find yourself in a universe in which LHC class colliders were repeatedly attempted and failed to operate for low probability bizarro reasons…

Uh-oh.

You Bastards!
You Destroyed The Earth!

In an alternative universe. Maybe.
Cool.

Hm.
So do we conclude that the LHC be discontinued and the funding given to some safe conservative institution like a Swiss Bank?

Nah, see, if the Earth is destroyed, we’ll never know, it will be in another instantiation of the universe; but in our universe the attempt to restart the LHC would fail, again, for some weird low probability reason.
And we would know with increasing certainty each time, that the multiverse theory of quantum mechanics is in fact correct.

I think 10-20 attempts would be sufficient.
During each of which 1/pi instantiations of the Earth are of course destroyed, where pi << 1 is the prior probability, per attempt, of the LHC failing to operate correctly.

We would then have a profound insight into the fundamental nature of QM, on those instantiations of the Earth in which we survived all the (failed) attempts, of course.

In the other universes, alien intelligences would be treated to a spectacular astronomical high energy phenomenon.
Unless the failure mode involves a phase transition to another false vacuum or some such, which annihilates large segments of the universe.
That’d be kinda cool too.
Hard to observe though.

Comments

  1. #1 Alex Besogonov
    December 11, 2008

    Well, if LHC will be destroyed by a freak asteroid hit – then it’ll be a pretty good indication that we shouldn’t try quantum immortality any further :)

  2. #2 Coriolis
    December 11, 2008

    Now this is how they should’ve convinced people that there’s nothing to worry about.

    “Well if it keeps failing we’ll know that it’s probably going to destroy our version of the world eventually if we keep trying”.

  3. #3 ralph137
    December 11, 2008

    Would the collapse of the world be instantaneous?
    Would all souls appear at the gate at the same time?
    Perhaps the standards will be dropped and we will be in heaven.
    Kool.

  4. #4 Bee
    December 11, 2008

    Of course it’s not coincidence. See paper by Nielsen et al summarized here.

  5. #5 Steinn Sigurdsson
    December 11, 2008

    Darn, it is very hard to think of anything new…
    I don’t think I read this particular post back when and subconsciously subliminated it.

    So, now we have data. Right?
    More data is needed!

  6. #6 Lyle G
    December 31, 2008

    I think Larry Niven used this idea, but with time machines.

  7. #7 Steinn Sigurdsson
    January 3, 2009

    Nah, that was different.
    That was on how nature would arrange for regional devastation if anyone tried to build a Tipler Cylinder time machine or equivalent.

  8. #8 island
    November 6, 2009

    Nah, see, if the Earth is destroyed, we’ll never know, it will be in another instantiation of the universe; but in our universe the attempt to restart the LHC would fail, again, for some weird low probability reason.
    And we would know with increasing certainty each time, that the multiverse theory of quantum mechanics is in fact correct.

    What a bizarre statement. How would you know that an anthropic principle wasn’t in effect in a single, finite, closed universe?

    Some seriously loose thinking among today’s physicists.

  9. #9 Steinn Sigurdsson
    November 7, 2009

    Tsk, it is a perfectly sensible statement, and one that is trivially true, if the underlying assumptions are correct.

    How unlikely, a priori, among all possible single or multiple universes, is it that the actual universe would be single and finite? Eh?

    Maybe more to the point, we measure it to not be closed.
    Phbt.