A Note on the LHC and the Grandfather Paradox

A New York Times piece that’s made the rounds in the last week or so takes up the idea that the Large Hadron Collider might not work for reasons involving to the grandfather paradox.

(If you’ve never heard of the grandfather paradox, head over to the Times piece now. I avoid describing it here so as not to taint what follows.)

One thing that irks me when people talk about the grandfather paradox: It’s not so much that you can’t go back and kill your grandfather; it’s that you always already didn’t do so (to co-opt a suddenly non-bogus phrase from the post-structuralists).

So the same goes for the LHC. I think the prediction on the table isn’t that something will happen to keep it from working; it’s that something already has (or, like, “already will have”—our verb tenses don’t do justice to the physics).

I have a pet peeve around the issue because this kind of not-quite-right summation kept me from really understanding the grandfather paradox for years.

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