Fact Check: The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is capable of creating a portal to a parallel universe or higher dimension.

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These claims are based on misunderstandings of quantum physics and fake evidence.

Context:

Recently, there has been a surge in concerned posts related to the July 5, 2022 reactivation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHR) at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, after a three-year shutdown. These posts have made a number of slightly different but narratively related unsubstantiated claims that otherworldly or otherwise unexplained phenomena occurred when the LHR was last activated.

Ahead of the LHR’s activation on July 5, several social media users on platforms like TikTok and Facebook claimed that the activation of the LHR causes a timeline shift, evidenced by the phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect. Others have claimed that the scientists at CERN intended to use the LHR to open some sort of portal to a higher dimension or parallel universe, and shared images of what they took to be evidence of these portals in the skies over Geneva.

As a matter of fact:

The claim that the Large Hadron Collider could open any type of portal is based on misunderstanding and exaggeration of the LHC’s purpose and capabilities. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN was built to identify and study some of the smallest and least understood particles in the universe. Broadly speaking, it works by “banging” together incomprehensibly small particles so scientists can observe their behavior and see what they’re made of. In 2012, scientists at CERN successfully identified the Higgs boson, an elementary particle theorized to have existed since the mid-20th century and believed to have played a crucial role in the formation of our universe.

When the Higgs boson was discovered, several conspiracy theorists claimed that it created a black hole that engulfed the planet and threw everyone into a nearly identical alternate dimension or timeline. There is no evidence of this. Scientists at CERN have repeatedly stated that while the LHR is a very powerful machine, it lacks the power to create the phenomenon conspiracy theorists fear, known as the Hawking decay. Furthermore, this concern was based on a misunderstanding of a foreword written by the late Professor Stephen Hawking in a book entitled Starmus: 50 years man in space by astrophysicist Garik Israelin.

This misunderstanding arose from the confusion of two phenomena of the same name; namely the Higgs potential and the Higgs boson. In the foreword mentioned above, Professor Stephen Hawking explains: “The Higgs potential […] could become metastable at energies above 100 [billion] Gigaelectronvolts (GeV). This could mean that the universe could experience a catastrophic vacuum breakup, with a bubble of true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. That could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming.”

In an interview with the science magazine Popular Mechanics, Katie Mack, theoretical astrophysicist at Melbourne University, explained the difference between the Higgs potential and the Higgs boson as follows: “The Higgs field permeates the entire universe, and the Higgs boson is one Excitation of this field, just as an electron is an excitation of an electric field. In this analogy, the Higgs potential is like the voltage that determines the value of the field.”

One of the most widespread conspiracy theories related to CERN claims that the LHR-induced time-axis shift is responsible for the Mandela effect. The term Mandela Effect was coined in 2010 by self-proclaimed “paranormal consultant” Fiona Broome after noticing that many people shared her (false) memory of famed South African civil rights activist Nelson Mandela, who died in prison in the 1980s despite being… it was actually died in 2013 at his home. However, the Mandela Effect is not proof of the existence of parallel universes or timelines.

Human memory is notoriously unreliable. Tim Hollins, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Plymouth, UK, has argued that the Mandela Effect could be an example of several psychological phenomena, such as core memory, where someone has a general idea about something, but doesn’t have one strong understanding of the details. The common aspect of the Mandela Effect can possibly be attributed to a phenomenon known as Asch conformity, so named after the experiments of a psychologist named Solomon Asch at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in the 1950s. These experiments showed that people have a strong tendency to adjust their views to fit into a group.

The images, used by conspiracy theorists as evidence of portals in the skies over Geneva, are real photos of a natural supercell weather phenomenon taken by nature photographer Christophe Suarez on June 24, 2016. The images he posted on his social media accounts were taken and reposted without his permission on June 27, 2016 by a YouTube page called “Freedom Fighter Times”, which claimed that the photos contained an “energy ball” showed in the sky above CERN. However, as Suarez noted, not only were these photos not taken over the CERN campus, but on the night the photos were taken, Swiss meteorologists had predicted the weather patterns he was photographing.

Verdict:

The conspiracy theories surrounding the intent and purpose of the Large Hadron Collider are based on misunderstandings of complex quantum physics and fake evidence in the form of photos re-released without the permission of the owners. The Large Hadron Collider is incapable of creating any type of black hole, portal or otherwise inducing a timeline shift that could be attributed to the Mandela Effect. We’ve marked the post as incorrect.

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