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?”