sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some call it the God Particle

Weak Boson Fusion
Essentially (and forgive me for simplifying it) the Higgs Field gives mass to massless particles. This means that without the existence of the Higgs Field, there would be no matter as we know it, only energy traveling at the speed of light.

I'm posting this here on my blog because I'm just a little tired of people criticizing the Large Hadron Collidor (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland, speculating that it will end the universe. AND criticizing the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory as 'tinkering with things best left to God'. By that standard, you should turn off your computer and all devices using electricity and get off line... STOP READING THIS and destroy your computer...

computer generated image of a Higgs Interaction (Wikipedia)
Particle physicists have long held that a field exists that has non-zero strength everywhere—even in otherwise empty space—and that particles acquire mass by interacting with this so-called Higgs field. If this theory is true, a matching particle—the smallest possible excitation of the Higgs field—should also exist and be detectable, providing a crucial test of the theory. Consequently, it has been the target of a long search in particle physics. One of the primary goals of the LHC at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland—the most powerful particle accelerator and one of the most complicated scientific instruments ever built—is to test the existence of the Higgs boson and measure its properties which would allow physicists to validate this cornerstone of modern theory. (Wikipedia)

On 4 July 2012, the CMS and the ATLAS experimental teams at the LHC independently announced that they each confirmed the formal discovery of a previously unknown boson of mass between 125–127 GeV/c2, whose behaviour so far has been "consistent with" a Higgs boson. Proof of the Higgs field (by observing the associated particle), and evidence of its properties, is likely to greatly affect human understanding of the universe, validate the final unconfirmed part of the Standard Model as essentially correct, indicate which of several current particle physics theories are more likely correct, and open up "new" physics beyond current theory.
Higgs bosons are used in a variety of science fiction stories. Noting the elusive search for the Higgs boson, the term "God particle" was coined by Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman, Director Emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. However, the scientific community generally disapproves of this nickname. The existence of this particle neither proves nor disproves the existence of God.
If it makes you feel any better, you can call the Higgs Field, "The Force". The Star Wars (movie) depiction is of a force that moves through all living things. The Higgs Field is there where there is "nothing", and yes, it's everywhere. And yes, even though it doesn't violate any law of physics, it creates mass from seemingly no mass at all.

The Higgs Field is with you - but I'm not so sure about Star Wars



  1. "Some call it the God Particle"

    Some call it heavenly in its brilliance. Others, mean and rueful of the Western dream. link

    I'm cheered to see you take up particle physics, LL. I'm taking refuge in chemistry, but remain a faithful admirer.

    1. chickelit - I have always been both a particle physics guy (anything below Planck Length) and a crypto nerd. Give me a good block cypher to play with and it calms my mind - or better still fractal based encryption. I'm not so impressed with stream cyphers.

      "I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft
      We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping
      This is the land where the Pharaoh died... (politically incorrect segment)
      Out here on the perimeter there are no stars
      Out here we is stoned immaculate"

      Now, listen to this and I'll tell you 'bout the heartache
      I'll tell you 'bout the heartache and the loss of God
      I'll tell you 'bout the hopeless night
      The meager food for souls forgot
      I'll tell you 'bout the maiden with wrought iron soul" -The Doors

      I have no idea how stoned Jim Morrison was when he wrote that, but I'm sure there was serious chemistry going on.

  2. It's good that you've covered this . . . 'er, uh, particle thing because we . . . I mean I and some others, having no . . . some of that stuff that you were 'umm. And that Higgs Bimbo thing is really good. Want a beer?

    1. Want a beer?

      Thought you'd never ask.

  3. Excellent precis, and on the money... and one more comment- "STOP READING THIS and destroy your computer..." AND get rid of your car, buy a horse and go live in a cave with no electricity... sigh

    1. Science and philosophy are keys to our future and they both have their place. Criticizing either is ok, so long as we allow people to THINK and create. IMHO. Or go live in a cave and wait for the next life-ending comet to hit the planet so you can go play a harp (or shovel coal) in the hereafter.

  4. It is a sad thought that we don't know the names of the worlds top scientists (...besides Dr. Benton Quest, who is in the top 5). Where are the Galileos, the Darwins, the Pasteurs, the Newtons and the Einsteins?

    We have our Bill Gates's and Steve Jobs's...but that's different...besides, you told us to destroy our computers...

    1. We take it all for granted now unless they are more like Dr. Steven Hawking or the late Dr. Carl Sagan, noted scientists who was also have a television presence. For most people, science is a curiosity rather than a world shattering discipline.

      And there are factions of the American religious right (who remind me of Wahabists) who feel that any science is a lie because it somehow diminishes God. But they are almost all happy to switch on a light, turn on a television or computer or take a car or airplane to get where they're going. (The Amish and Mennonites being an example of practicing what they preach)


It's virtual - it's a mirage - it's life