The Real Science of the God Particle in Netflix’s ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’


Even if you’re not a particle physics buff, you may have noticed that the plot of Netflix’s surprise Superbowl Sunday release, The Cloverfield Paradox, relies heavily on a huge physics discovery that was in the news a few years ago: the Higgs Boson particle.

The Cloverfield Paradox

Also known as the “God particle” — which happened to be the working title of the new J.J. Abrams film — the Higgs Boson was first observed directly by scientists in 2012.

Gratuitous spoilers for The Cloverfield Paradox ahead.

In the midst of an energy crisis in the year 2028, scientists are struggling to use a massive space-based particle accelerator to help efficiently produce energy. When they finally get it to accelerate particles, they suddenly find themselves on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth. Chaos ensues: Worms explode out of a guy. Someone’s arm rematerializes on the other side of the ship with a mind of its own. Standard body horror nonsense.

Long story short, we’re led to believe that this botched experiment is what brought monsters to Earth in the first Cloverfield film — which, given the crazy science that goes on at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), is not totally absurd.

Cloverfield Paradox Monster
In ‘The Cloverfield Paradox,’ we’re led to believe that a particle accelerator experiment gone wrong in 2028 messed up the multiverse and caused a monster attack in 2008.

Any good science fiction story has some basis in reality, and it’s clear that The Cloverfield Paradox drew heavily on conspiracy theories that sprung up around CERN and its efforts to find direct evidence of the Higgs-Boson particle using a 27-kilometer circumference accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider.

 The particle’s discovery was a big deal because it was the only one out of 17 particles predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics that had never been observed. The Higgs Boson is partly responsible for the forces between objects, giving them mass.

But it wasn’t the particle itself that conspiracy theorists and skeptics worried about. It’s the way physicists had to observe it.

Doing so involved building the LHC, an extraordinarily large real-life physics experiment that housed two side-by-side high-energy particle beams traveling in opposite directions at close to the speed of light. The hope was that accelerated protons or lead ions in the beam would collide, throwing off a bunch of extremely rare, short-lived particles, one of which might be the Higgs Boson. In 2012, scientists finally observed it, calling it the “God particle” because “Goddamn particle” — as in “so Goddamn hard to find” — was considered too rude to print.

Critics and skeptics argued that colliding particles at close to the speed of light increased the potential to accidentally create micro black holes and possibly even larger black holes, leading to wild speculation like that in Cloverfield Paradox.

cloverfield paradox
Ah yes, the elusive Hands Bosarm particle.

This has never happened in real life, of course, and there’s also strong evidence that it couldn’t happen. Check out this excerpt from an interaction between astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and science skeptic Anthony Liversidge that Gizmodo reported on in 2011:

NDT: To catch everybody up on this, there’s a concern that if you make a pocket of energy that high, it might create a black hole that would then consume the Earth. So I don’t know what papers your fellow read, but there’s a simple calculation you can do. Earth is actually bombarded by high energy particles that we call cosmic rays, from the depths of space moving at a fraction of the speed of light, energies that far exceed those in the particle accelerator. So it seems to me that if making a pocket of high energy would put Earth at risk of black holes, then we and every other physical object in the universe would have become a black hole eons ago because these cosmic rays are scattered across the universe are hitting every object that’s out there. Whatever your friend’s concerns are were unfounded.

Liversidge may be on the fringe with his argument, but he isn’t alone. As Inverse previously reported, Vanderbilt University physicist Tom Weiler, Ph.D., has hypothesized that a particle created alongside the Higgs Boson, called the Higgs singlet, could travel through time through an as-yet-undiscovered fifth dimension. If Weiler’s hypothesis is correct, then it seems possible that interdimensional travel, as depicted in Cloverfield Paradox, could be possible, though his model really only accounts for the Higgs singlet particle’s ability to time travel.

'The Cloverfield Paradox' is forever the most important Cloverfield.
In ‘The Cloverfield Paradox,’ a particle accelerator plays a central role.

The reason the Cloverfield Paradox scientists were trying to fire up a particle accelerator in space is just as speculative. While particle accelerators take a massive amount of energy to accelerate their beams to near light speed, some physicists argue that under certain conditions, a particle accelerator could actually produce energy. Using superconductors, they argued, it would be possible for a particle accelerator to actually produce plutonium that could be used in nuclear reactors. So in a sense, the science of the movie is kind of based on maybe possibly real science.

That being said, this space horror film takes extreme liberties, even where it’s based on real science. Even on the extreme off-chance that any of the hypotheses outlined in this article turned out to be true, the tiny potential side effects of particle accelerators are nothing like what we see in The Cloverfield Paradox.

Advertisements

The 25 Most-Read Inverse Culture Stories of 2017


Looking back on 2017 is probably not something most of us are prepared to do just yet. That being said, taking a glance at the year’s most-read Culture stories definitely reads like a greatest hits on what captivated our attention in this most crazy of years.

Above the cacophony of Trump gaffs and Twitter feuds, Inverse readers gravitated towards stories that could satisfy their curiosities about this big weird world. From the political (can you legally punch a Nazi?) to the whimsical (what is tentacle porn?), Inverse readers had a lot of questions in 2017. And as technology continues to move at a speed that we can barely keep up with, readers also wanted to know about how apps, AI and the internet at large is affecting our social lives — and our sex lives.

Here are the 25 Culture stories that Inverse readers loved in 2017.

25. Why the Internet Turned on Vine and YouTube Star Jake Paul

By Emily Gaudette

An adult’s guide to the young Vine star who has matured into a weird — and problematic — Youtube celebrity.

24. 8 Surprising Images That Were Banned From Instagram

By Grace Scott

When it comes to what imagery is too sexual or explicit for Instagram, female bodies seem to get caught in the crossfire of the debate over what’s appropriate to post online. These images, many of which appear to be quite benign, were still too controversial for the social media platform.

23. A 95-Year-Old “Real Life Tomb Raider” Isn’t a Hero, She’s a Thief

By Rae Paoletta

Joan Howard spent the ‘60s and ‘70s pilfering historical artifacts from the Middle East. Several archaeologists told Rae Paoletta about why Howard’s activities were highly unethical, likely illegal, and deeply offensive.

Artist Isaac Kariuki had this portrait of a woman with a cellphone taken down from his Instagram.

22. ‘Get Out’ Fans Will Love Jordan Peele’s Viral Tweet About Trump

By Paige Leskin

Jordan Peele made a perfectly-meta dig at Donald Trump over Twitter.

21.How to (Legally) Punch a Nazi Who’s Threatening You

By Katie Way

Civil rights lawyer and activist Dan Siegel spoke to Inverse about the legal parameters of self-defense and Nazis.

20. The Librarian Behind This Tough Topics Poster Says It Will Hang Indefinitely

By Nick Lucchesi

The person responsible for a sign directing teens to books on tricky topics, from abusive relationships to acne, tells us why it’s important that kids get the information they’re sometimes afraid to ask for.

19. Why Google is Celebrating 131 Years of the ‘Essential’ Hole Punch

By Mike Brown

When Google chose to highlight Dutch designer Gerben Steenks in a November doodle, it gave us the perfect excuse to school readers on the fascinating history of the hole punch. It’s actually very interesting!

This poster that helps young people find literature on the more awkward of topics went viral on Reddit.

18. States and Cities Where Weed Won This November

By Sarah Sloat

The November election was a game-changer for marijuana activists, as legislators in favor of legalization were voted in across the board.

17. The Right Hates That Vogue Cover Because They Still Own Patriotic Imagery

By Emily Gaudette

Jennifer Lawrence’s Vogue cover caused a stir back in August as hardline conservatives argued that the background use of the Statue of Liberty was a cryptic dig at President Trump’s immigration reform. Yes, really.

16. New Study Reveals Bartenders, Casino Workers Most Likely to Get Divorced

By Emily Gaudette

Unfortunately, data tends not to lie.

15. Sex Doll Brothel Opens Up in Barcelona

By Cory Scarola

Claiming to be the first of its kind, a sex doll brothel opened up in Spain early in the year. Obviously we decided to write about this, as well as expound upon whether you can get an STI from a sex doll.

LumiDolls, the world’s first sex doll brothel, captured readers’ attentions in 2017.

14. Most Americans Still Lie About How They Want Their Steak

After it was revealed that Donald Trump likes his steak disturbingly well done, we decided to look into how the rest of America enjoys their sirloin. It turns out we don’t like it on the rare side either.

13. The White House Website Under Trump No Longer Has a Spanish Option

By Nick Lucchesi

As the Trump presidency dawned upon America back in January of 2017, people were paying close attention to how government websites might change under new hands. It didn’t take long for the Spanish language option to disappear from WhiteHouse.gov.

12. Watch the Founding Fathers’ Descendants Gather in One Room

By Emily Gaudette

In honor of Independence Day, Ancestry.com gathered living descendants of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence together. For a commercial. Emily Gaudette explores the complicated — and problematic — history behind the advertisement.

11. The Latest Optical Illusion Stumping the Internet Is This Photo of Strawberries

By Gabe Bergado

It didn’t end with the dress. Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, created an image that got the internet seeing red.

This strawberry image boggled minds across the internet in February.

10. JFK Conspiracy Theorists Are About to Receive the Motherlode

By Emily Gaudette

When it was announced that the remainder of the JFK files were to be released, conspiracy theorists had a hey day. We theorized on what new information might come to light — and what probably wouldn’t.

9. Power Outages Coincide in LA, New York, and San Francisco

By Cory Scarola

The trippy coincidence occurred back in April and captured the nation’s attention. We investigated.

2018? 2019? Place your bets.

8. Trump Impeachment Odds Now at 60 Percent

By Jame Grebey

Well, at least as far as an Irish betting house is concerned. Betting odds favoring Trump’s impeachment skyrocketed after Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey and became embroiled in the investigation into Russian meddling.

7. When and How Do Most Americans Lose Their Virginity?

By Emily Gaudette

It’s actually a pretty loaded question and depends very much on what you personally define as virginity. We parsed through the data.

6. The 21 Best Subreddits for Free, Creative Porn

By Emily Gaudette

Reddit is the go-to place to talk about and share just pretty much anything, including porn. Emily Guadette details some of the best subreddits out there.

Tentacle porn made a splash on Twitter thanks to Kurt Eichenwald.

5. A Helping Hand for Finding Great Tentacle Porn Online

By Emily Gaudette

A deep dive (no pun intended) into the slimy, sexy world of tentacle porn, including its origin and history. Inspired by an “accidental” tweet from Vanity Fair’sKurt Eichenwald of tentacle porn, we felt the internet could use a primer on the genre as Eichenwald’s tweet subsequently went viral.

4. Trump’s Tweets Just Went From Bad to Unconstitutional: Here’s Why

By Monica Hunter-Hart

Back in the summer it looked as if President Trump’s bombastic twitter habits were about to land him in the legal hot seat. It didn’t exactly happen, but as we enter 2018 with the President still glued to his feed, anything is possible.

3. What is Saraha?

By Katie Way

In 2017, we had a lot of questions about the app that seemed to go viral overnight, Saraha. Deriving its name from the Arabic word sarahah, which translates to “honesty” or “candor,” the app lets its brave users send and receive messages anonymously, for better or for worse.

Netflix’s Dear White People.

2. People Are Canceling Their Netflix Accounts Because of ‘Dear White People’

By Gabe Bergado

Oh brother. Throughout a year of outrage, the trailer for Dear White Peopleprompted white supremacists to decry Netflix’s “anti-white agenda.” The reason? The trailer showcases the show’s protagonist, black college student Sam White, stating that white students shouldn’t dress up in blackface on Halloween.

1. Pornhub Released a Detailed Map of the World’s Porn Interests

By Cory Scarola

Inverse readers seem to be really curious about porn, because this story was read more than any other in 2017. So where in the world do women watch the most porn? And why do Americans want to watch sexy videos that are Overwatch-themed? We don’t know… but Pornhub has dug up the data, along with so much more about our carnal interests.

Watching Porn Frequently Could Make You A More Religious Person: Study


Pornography sites get more visitors than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Despite this, X-rated videos remain a taboo, something people rarely talk about or admit to viewing because of a moral stigma. In an ironic turn of events, a study published in the Journal of Sex Research suggests that those who watch porn more than once a week tend to become more religious.

Use of pornography has skyrocketed in recent decades, prompting an equally large uptick in research focusing on the industry’s social factors. Previously, high religiosity had been associated with low pornography use — almost all religious groups disapproveof the material. The current study suggested that those who watch pornography only occasionally become less religious over time, while those who watch it more often become more religious.

The research followed the same people over a period of six years, measuring both their pornography use and religiousness along the way. The sample included a nationally representative group of 1,314 adults who answered questions about their pornography use and their religious habits. Even after controlling for outside factors like age and gender, use of pornography was associated with low religiousness at the end of the study until the rate of consumption became more frequent than once a week. At this point, religiousness increased.

“Findings suggest that viewing pornography may lead to declines in some dimensions of religiosity but at more extreme levels may actually stimulate, or at least be conducive to, greater religiosity along other dimensions,” wrote study author Samuel Perry of the University of Oklahoma.

He further explained that exposure to pornography may inspire guilty feelings, especially if a person is violating the rules of their religion. This could at first lead them to distance themselves from religious activities. As pornography viewing increases, people may find ways to rationalize their behavior, or even turn to religion to try and overcome the behavior that is making them feel guilty.

According to Dr. Jeff Louge, a counselor and assistant professor at Sagu Christian University, 47 percent of Christians say pornography is a major problem in the home. Many other faiths, including Islam, maintain that pornography is a no-no for religious followers. If this research is correct, however, that heavy pornography use may be driving people closer to their faith rather than farther away.

Watching Porn Frequently Could Make You A More Religious Person: Study


jesus

Pornography sites get more visitors than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Despite this, X-rated videos remain a taboo, something people rarely talk about or admit to viewing because of a moral stigma. In an ironic turn of events, a study published in the Journal of Sex Research suggests that those who watch porn more than once a week tend to become more religious.

Use of pornography has skyrocketed in recent decades, prompting an equally large uptick in research focusing on the industry’s social factors. Previously, high religiosity had been associated with low pornography use — almost all religious groups disapprove of the material. The current study suggested that those who watch pornography only occasionally become less religious over time, while those who watch it more often become more religious.

The research followed the same people over a period of six years, measuring both their pornography use and religiousness along the way. The sample included a nationally representative group of 1,314 adults who answered questions about their pornography use and their religious habits. Even after controlling for outside factors like age and gender, use of pornography was associated with low religiousness at the end of the study until the rate of consumption became more frequent than once a week. At this point, religiousness increased.

“Findings suggest that viewing pornography may lead to declines in some dimensions of religiosity but at more extreme levels may actually stimulate, or at least be conducive to, greater religiosity along other dimensions,” wrote study author Samuel Perry of the University of Oklahoma.

He further explained that exposure to pornography may inspire guilty feelings, especially if a person is violating the rules of their religion. This could at first lead them to distance themselves from religious activities. As pornography viewing increases, people may find ways to rationalize their behavior, or even turn to religion to try and overcome the behavior that is making them feel guilty.

According to Dr. Jeff Louge, a counselor and assistant professor at Sagu Christian University, 47 percent of Christians say pornography is a major problem in the home. Many other faiths, including Islam, maintain that pornography is a no-no for religious followers. If this research is correct, however, that heavy pornography use may be driving people closer to their faith rather than farther away.