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According To Professor Brian Cox, Particle Physics Proves Ghosts Don't Exist

People usually use the word "supernatural" to refer to things that can't be explained by science. But what if they can be? After all, if something interacts with the material world, then there should be a scientific way to detect it. British physicist Brian Cox applies this logic to ghosts, which he says absolutely, positively do not exist. If they did, the Large Hadron Collider would have detected them.

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"Almost Inconceivable"

Cox weighed in on this topic during the Christmas episode of his (excellent!) podcast, The Infinite Monkey Cage, on which astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was a guest. The topic was the Victorian obsession with ghosts and the supernatural, and Cox pulled no punches at the top of the show. "We're not here to debate the existence of ghosts, because they don't exist," he began. "If we want some sort of pattern that carries information about our living cells to persist, then we must specify exactly what medium carries that pattern and how it interacts with the matter particles out of which our bodies are made." That is, ghosts are a sort of ethereal "copy" of our own bodies. If that's true, then something has to interact with our cells in order to carry the blueprint for that copy.

Related: Can Science Create Ghosts?

"We must, in other words," he continues, "invent an extension to the standard model of particle physics that has escaped detection at the Large Hadron Collider. That's almost inconceivable at the energy scales typical of the particle interactions inside our bodies, and we need not discuss this further." Ghosts, he says, would break the laws of particle physics, requiring vast changes to our most essential theories.

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Tyson Steps In

"Brian," Neil deGrasse Tyson interjected, "if I understand what you just declared, you just asserted that CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, disproved the existence of ghosts."

"Yes," Cox replied.

Later in the episode, Tyson debated the existence of ghosts himself. "Can I give my best argument against ghosts? If you run the numbers, there's anywhere between 70 and 100 billion human beings who have ever lived on Earth. So if you subtract away everyone alive today, you're up 70, 80 billion. So that's actually 10 ghosts for every living person. This would be a really crowded world."

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