Trial Balloon

Theories in the News

Posted at 5:53 AM on October 14, 2009 by Dale Connelly (21 Comments)

Radio Heartland has an opportunity for you to win tickets to go see The Klezmatics at the Cedar Cultural Center on Saturday, October 24th.

Enter the drawing

Obey the rules And good luck. ..

Perhaps the most delightfully weird theory to come along in a while is the notion, recently described in an article by Dennis Overbye in the New York Times, that the remarkable lack of success scientists have had so far with the Large Hadron Super Collider is the result of a spooky blocking maneuver from the future.

One hope is that the collider will prove the existence of a theoretical, mass-inducing particle called Higg's boson. But when the collider was started up with much fanfare last year, there was a malfunction and it had to be shut down for a lengthy repair which is now almost complete. Two theoretical physicsts, Holger Bech Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, are wondering if that failure might be due to the search for Higgs boson, which, as described in the New York Times essay ...

... might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.

So ... the idea seems to be that the collider has, by its very existence, generated an effect from the future that thwarts its own reason for being. (Note to self: If time travel becomes possible, let grandpa live.)

Other scientists have ridiculed this idea as simply ludicrous and professionally embarassing, but scientific study does have a long and colorful history of experiments that produce unintended results.

For me, the real question is this ... how might this effect be used if it proves true? If things abhorred by nature will be automatically thwarted by a negating action that reaches across time, then the key to time travel is simply to identify those things that nature finds truly apalling. That may not be easy. We have been treated to an ongoing string of nasty events and situations that nature doesn't seem to hate quite enough to derail at a distance (war, famine, Tom Delay on "Dancing With the Stars").

So what is potentially bad enough to duplicate this remarkable effect?

There's a children's play I'd like to write about a rabbit, a squirrel and a mosquito that never seems to get done - something always gets in the way, like a sudden nap or a good program on TV. Perhaps this is the kind of thing nature simply won't allow. And then there's that spicy turkey meatloaf I keep trying to make. Even though I buy the ingredients at the store on Sunday, when I go to the cupboard on Wednesday they've mysteriously vanished.

Maybe the potential creation of my theoretical meatloaf opens a door to backwards movement through the time-space continuum that causes the components to migrate into the garbage in time for the neighborhood pick-up on Tuesday! Cool! And also ... expensive!

Is there anything you've been trying to accomplish that nature my be actively trying to thwart through mysterious action from the distant future?



Comments (21)

Hi all... I've finally dug out of my work overload of the last month. I wish THAT could go back in time and undo itself.

Unfortunately the thing I'm trying to do w/ the most un-success is get my teenage daughter to join the human race, hopefully without the permanent scowl that she is currently sporting! Is it gonna happen? Doesn't seem likely any time soon.

Heartlanders... have a great day. (I missed you all!)

Posted by sherrilee | October 14, 2009 6:01 AM


Dale -- the blog is reminding me that I wanted to get a sweatshirt from Neat-O-Rama. It's a big globe, with protons and neutrons circling it like it's an atom, with the words "I Survived the Haldron Collider" going around the outside. I think the world is trying to tell me something. Think I'll have to get that today!

Posted by sherrilee | October 14, 2009 6:16 AM


Yes, I think getting teenagers to act human is probably impossible because of something like the effect that Dale describes, Sherriee. We are not allowed to do it because they are works of nature that are protected by a force traveling through time. That must have been the cause of my inability to get those middle school kids to obey when I was a substitute teacher.

Posted by Jim | October 14, 2009 6:51 AM


Yes, I think this explains why I've been unsuccessful at capturing a fly with chopsticks. Dale - great line about "let Grandpa live." When you do write that children's play, could I try out for the mosquito?

Good to hear from you Sherrilee! I knew this topic would draw you in. Don't lose hope with your teen. One of these days, sooner than you'd imagine, you'll turn around and she'll be a real person - an adult - and you'll wonder what you ever did to deserve such a lovely companion in your life. sniff.

Posted by Donna | October 14, 2009 6:51 AM


Almost everything that I personally want to get done must be an affront to nature... because it seems I can't get anything done! The fact that the forces from the future didn't prevent me from putting together a stack of scrapbooks about ten years ago, however, indicates to me that nature doesn't take issue with catastrophes and disasters of the aesthetic kind.

Sherrillee, the scowl will pass in time!

Good morning, all. :-)

Posted by elinor | October 14, 2009 6:52 AM


Sherilee, I'd say Donna is right BUT she also wants to audition to be a mosquito.....Remember in time travel we may be the grandparents that need protection from the future. Maybe we need to listen to the combined wisdom of the collider.

Dale,
I think I have my pledge week slogan "RadioHeartland-where a particle colloder and turkey meatloaf meet and make beautiful music!"

Posted by Beth-Ann | October 14, 2009 7:15 AM


Beth-Ann, how else will I ever catch that damn fly?

Posted by Donna | October 14, 2009 7:20 AM


Greetings all! What's abhorrent to nature are companies like Monsanto, genetically modified crops, Terminator seeds and cloning -- but astounding amounts of money (and profit) keep those things rolling along ...

I guess the Hadron deals with more fundamental, universal foundations to bring in the laws of time travel to keep it from happening. Fascinating concept.

As for me, my house never gets clean and absolutely never gets organized. I don't know how most folks keep stuff neat and organized -- I have a black hole of stuff I don't know what to do with ... I make progress sometimes when I get rid of old clothes to Goodwill, but then the vacuum sucks in more stuff. And who wants to clean and organize when there's fascinating books to read, stuff to learn online, etc.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | October 14, 2009 7:31 AM


Do grand intentions without getting started count? If that does, the future and nature seem to think my basement tool area should remain in plastic tubs, buckets, heavy canvas bags.... and scattered hither and yon.

Posted by Anna | October 14, 2009 7:43 AM


Something in nature or the universe is keeping me from sitting and enjoying Radio Heartland and Trial Balloon...time runs out too fast...is it the teen living in my home sucking up time? do I have to get up even earlier?

Oh dear...must run and get goats milked, horses, cats and chickens fed...make a lunch for me and get to work...is that what is stealing time and keeping me from RH & TB? and, yes, that book about the Norwegian girl born riding a goat and waving a wooden spoon...(folk tale called Tatterhood)

Love Pete Morton. Thanks for playing as I sit here stealing time to write...Good Wednesday all...!

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | October 14, 2009 8:06 AM


Yes, Joanne I think we need to send something into the future that will prevent companies like Monsanto from claiming that products, like crops with geneticly engineered resistance to herbicides they sell, are good for us.

Also, I am sure, as several have said, that there is something in the future that is stopping us from getting organized.

In addition, I think something from the future is preventing me from writing without making typos and spelling errors.

Posted by Jim | October 14, 2009 8:26 AM


just waking up here....

and pondering time travel...

isn't actually more important to let GRANDMA live, dale, as she is the one to actually produce one of your parents???

that business with the collider is interesting---but Nature and I sure seem to have different ideas about what is abhorrent--

maybe vonnegut was right and it's really those Tralfalmordians who are manipulating nature and history and so forth....

Posted by Kay H in Utah | October 14, 2009 8:52 AM


I used to have a little organizing business, and I can't get to it anymore either, so there may well be some force of nature. This blog writing is at least getting me to write a little!

I learned a good trick from a friend who keeps 2 or 3 boxes in the trunk of her car -- one for Goodwill, one for friends, etc. Every time she goes to the car she tries to take something that'll LEAVE THE HOUSE in one of those boxes. :)

Teenagers do suck energy and time, but luckily are not stuck there forever. Good luck in the meantime, Sherilee and Cynthia et al!

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | October 14, 2009 8:59 AM


Kay -

Of course I agree, Grandma must live as well!
But I believe we need BOTH Grandma and Grandpa to get the "right" result.
This might be the proof some of us are looking for that we are NOT personally abhorrent to nature, otherwise nature would have found a way to break up Grandma and Grandpa's romance.

Posted by Dale Connelly | October 14, 2009 9:01 AM


Well, first of all, it's rather gratifying to think that none of my friends or family are so abhorrent to nature that they would be prevented from existing. It's also gratifying to think that the whole 'man has conquered nature' sentiment is wrong. Maybe something like this could encourage people to work with nature instead of trying to hammer it into submission. Maybe.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | October 14, 2009 9:09 AM


Just curious, who were the lucky winners of John McCutcheon tickets?

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | October 14, 2009 9:21 AM


LIke TGitH, I am gratified at all the beings nature hasn't seen fit to preclude the existence of, but like Joanne, I wonder what nature has against me having a clean and organized house.

On the other hand, should I maybe just sit down with a cup of tea and some nice knitting and stop trying to bring about the cataclysm that would occur if I had said clean and organized house?

Maybe the teens and tweens who leave a trail of dirty dishes and socks are just doing their bit to maintain balance in the universe.

Posted by catherine | October 14, 2009 9:29 AM


I'm glad a few more people, including you Dale, have added their comments toward the end or after the end of the live boardcast. I was begining to think that some thing from the future might be decreasing the number of comments on this blog.

Posted by Jim | October 14, 2009 9:38 AM


Well, at least no one is stopping me from putting a late post on the blog ...

It all comes down to ENTROPY -- things just tend toward chaos. A long time ago when the internet was new, my husband had a weird little website called A.E.G. -- The Anti-Entropy Guild. He didn't have very many visitors, but it was an intriguing and goofy idea.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | October 14, 2009 11:50 AM


Joanne -- I'd like to know more about this Anti-Entropy Guild... might have to google anti-entropy?

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | October 14, 2009 1:53 PM


Clearly the something or someone in the future does not want me to have a larger hard drive in my home laptop. The old hard drive works, but is small. We have tried three new, larger hard drives in my computer - and after about a week, each drive quits working. Usually while I'm streaming RH. I'd like to the the streaming RH part is just coincidental - but clearly the larger hard drive is not meant to be. Maybe it's someone from the Anti-Entropy Guild in the future telling me I should just clean up all the extra stuff on the old drive and be content with less (virtual) junk lying around.

Posted by Anna | October 14, 2009 3:57 PM


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