God Particle Found?

Large Hadron Collider quadrupole magnets for d...

Large Hadron Collider quadrupole magnets for directing proton beams to interact. These superconducting quadrupole electromagnetas were made in Fermilab. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, maybe. According to the AP, physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider are expected to announce that they have found convincing evidence for the existence of the Higgs Boson, or the “God Particle”. If their observations are confirmed, than this could be the biggest discovery in physics in decades. Here is part of the story.

Scientists believe the “God particle” that might explain the underpinnings of the universe is real, and they are about to present their evidence to the world.

Physicists at the world’s biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have nearly confirmed the primary plank of a theory that could shape the scientific understanding of all matter.

The idea is much like gravity and Isaac Newton’s discovery: It was there all the time before Newton explained it. But now scientists know what it is and can put that knowledge to further use.

The focus of the excitement is the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that, if confirmed, could help explain why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give an object weight.

Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, say that they have compiled vast amounts of data that show the footprint and shadow of the particle – all but proving it exists, even though it has never actually been glimpsed.

But two independent teams of physicists are cautious after decades of work and billions of dollars spent. They don’t plan to use the word “discovery.” They say they will come as close as possible to a “eureka” announcement without uttering a pronouncement as if from the scientific mountaintop.

“I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, `It looks like a discovery,'” said British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King’s College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s. “We’ve discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs.”

CERN’s atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border, has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to investigate dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.

The phrase “God particle,” coined by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, is used by laymen, not physicists, more as an explanation for how the subatomic universe works than how it all started.

I really wish that they wouldn’t refer to the Higgs Boson as the God particle. Unless someone is planning to start a new religion that worships sub-atomic particles, it is neither an accurate nor appropriate term. Also, the writers of this article really should know better than to refer to the Large Hadron Collider as an “atom smasher”. The LHC is a particle accelerator. Writing atom smasher sounds as if they don’t know much about the subject they are writing about.

One possible way the Higgs boson might be prod...

One possible way the Higgs boson might be produced at the Large Hadron Collider. Similar images at: http://atlas.web.cern.ch/Atlas/GROUPS/PHYSICS/Conferences/2003/aspen-03_dam.ppt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can find up to date and accurate information from  physicist Matt Strassler at Of Particular Significance.


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