Many people believe in ghosts despite the fact that scientific proof of their existence is tenuous at best. After all, science hasn't exactly disproven the existence of ghosts yet either, has it?

Well, perhaps it has. According to renowned theoretical physicist Brian Cox, science has essentially already built the ultimate ghost detector — the Large Hadron Collider — and it has failed to detect anything that could explain ghosts. As he points out on The Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC radio, there's simply no more room left for ghosts in the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

"If we want some sort of pattern that carries information about our living cells to persist, then we must specify precisely what medium carries that pattern, and how it interacts with the matter particles out of which our bodies are made," Cox pointed out. "We must, in other words, 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 in our bodies."

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the most complex experimental facility ever built; the largest single machine in the world. It's a particle collider that smashes particles together at incredible speeds to reveal any tinier particles that might emerge from the collisions. While the LHC can't be said to be definitively powerful enough to have detected every particle in the universe, it's certainly powerful enough to have penetrated to the fundamental levels that pertain to how our cells use energy.

"I would say if there's some kind of substance that's driving our bodies, making my arms move and legs move, then it must interact with the particles out of which our bodies are made," continued Cox. "And seeing as we've made high-precision measurements of the ways that particles interact, then my assertion is that there can be no such thing as an energy source that's driving our bodies."

In other words, there's simply nothing that's been identified by the LHC that could possibly carry on after our bodies die, not within the Standard Model.

But what about outside the Standard Model? After all, the Standard Model has been shown to contain some glaring holes, and many physicists today acknowledge that it's an incomplete theory as currently constructed.

Cox anticipates this rebuttal. He admits that there are plenty of problems with the Standard Model, but firmly contends that ghosts don't fall within the "known unknowns" of the theory. In other words, the Standard Model explains enough of the universe to rule out an afterlife.

Cox's argument, if considered valid, might not be enough to convince those who believe in supernatural forces beyond what can be observed by science, but it at least backs such believers into their very own corner.

And perhaps there's still room for ghosts in the minds of the rest of us too. After all, just because ghosts aren't the stuff of physics doesn't mean they can't still haunt us.