Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time-Travel Sabotage

I admire scientists who are willing to entertain ideas that seem crazy but which just might be true. You find such people treading outside the boundary lines in every field of science - except perhaps, in evolutionary biology, which seems populated by individuals who lack the gene for being able to consider any hypothesis for apparent design that actually implies a Designer - and it's fun to speculate along with them.

Even so, I think this latest theory in physics is a bit much. According to a New York Times story, the problems besetting the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which was built to recreate conditions approximating the Big Bang and which, it is hoped, will produce evidence of a sub-atomic particle called the Higgs Boson, are due to the Higgs actually traveling back in time to sabotage the LHC. The theory has it that the Higgs doesn't want to be discovered (it's not clear how a subatomic particle could actually "want" anything) and has "decided" (ditto) to travel back in time to sabotage the device that would discover it, or something.

You'll have to read about it at the link. Maybe the NYT writer can make it sound more plausible than I can. It's true that the LHC has had problems getting going, and it's true that the people who proffer this hypothesis are serious and accomplished physicists, so we shouldn't dismiss their idea out of hand, but still - intentionality among sub-atomic particles? Does this mean that they have minds?

Thanks to Telic Thoughts for the tip on the article.


The Bow Seen 'Round the World

There's been a lot of fuss about the President's very odd bow to the emperor of Japan just as there was following his bow to the Saudi king. I think the bows make him look a bit like a doofus, sort of like John Cleese doing a Fawlty Towers skit, but otherwise I guess they're harmless:

I wonder, though, how he decides which world leader to whom he will bow and which with whom he'll just shake hands? If you're an important poobah and you are favored with a mere handshake from the President of the United States after the emperor of Japan has just had a perfect jacknife executed right in front of him, should you feel slighted? Has the President been insufficiently and thus insultingly deferential toward you? If bowing is deemed appropriate when greeting royalty can genuflecting be far behind? These are weighty questions for which I have no answers.

I did come across this power point presentation, however, which was smuggled out of a top secret White House meeting of aides strategizing about how to counter GOP criticism of the President's embarrassing spasms when in the presence of foreign dignitaries: