December 13, 2011

If the “God Particle” Actually Exists

(Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)


Just a quick note for those of my readers who, like me, are weak in science (physics in this case), but willing to learn and to be taught.

European physicists at the CERN announced a few hours ago that they have found evidence that the Higgs boson, aka the “God particle,” actually exists. They have stopped short of claiming discovery, but in a press conference they said they may have finally glimpsed the elusive elemental particle critical to our understanding of how the universe works.

Here is a video by The Telegraph in which CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer and CERN physicists Fabiola Gianotti and Guido Tornelli explain what they have found:



But what does the expression Higgs boson—named after Physicist Peter Higgs—exactly mean? And what does this announcement mean for technology? To the first question the answer is:

According to Scientific American’s Kelly Oakes, the Higgs boson is the smallest part of the Higgs field, which physicists believe gives all matter the property of mass. Translated and oversimplified, that means that nothing would have weight without the Higgs field. For academics, finding the particle would complete a puzzle about the universe that’s been bugging them for decades.

To the second question the answer is:

Honestly, very little, said University of Maryland physics department chairman Drew Baden. It is “merely a look-see as to where the experiments are in looking for new particles, not seen since the first trillionth of a second after the big bang,” he said.
But Baden said that the technology that CERN developed for its research has spun off other valuable advances.
“Much of the progress in accelerators comes out of this kind of basic research,” he said in an e-mail, pointing to technology used in food radiation and cancer therapy. People are now working on laser-powered accelerators, he said, and future applications of that work could create sci-fi-like particle beams.

However, and to be fair, with reference to the expression “God particle,” there are also those who ask, “What has God got to do with it?



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2 comments:

  1. i guess there are somethings we humans will never get the real answer to:) nice and informative blog makes a good read:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, but there is a lot of wisdom in the realisation that the more we know, the more we realise we don't know. I've also heard the allusion before that as science advances, so it inevitably approaches God.

    How ironic to read 'It's not doing justice to Higgs (...). It has nothing to do with God'.
    Then one could reason that Higgs must be God..

    Yet to the simple minded, like me, it all didn't happen by pure chance. Or to quote
    from Sir Thomas More's Utopia - "The only exception was a positive and strict law against anyone who should sink so far below the dignity of human nature as to think that the soul perishes with the body, or that the universe is ruled by blind chance, not divine providence.'

    ReplyDelete

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