God Particle For Dummies
It's an historic day on planet earth, perhaps for the entire universe as we know it. Earth scientists think they may have discovered a Higgs boson, perhaps not THE Higgs boson, and it's a great distinction, but a Higgs boson just the same. Peter Higgs was on hand to witness the culmination of something he had proposed years ago. The announcement was made by officials at CERN. You can read more here.
A few months back when this research began in earnest, I wrote the following explanation from a lay person point of view. When it comes to physics, I'm about as "lay" as it gets but I made an effort to gain a basic understanding of this monumental development. As people buzz about this topic today, maybe this will help.
HERE'S WHAT IT ALL MEANS...
The so called “God Particle” is the Higgs boson. A boson (pronounced BOH-sahn) is a class of subatomic particle named after Indian physicist S.N. Bose (1894-1974). This particular boson, that only exists in theory, was first proposed by Peter Higgs, a British physicist, 82.
SO FAR, SO GOOD?
After this they pretty much lose me. Although here is what I am able to glean, having made minimal attention to the teacher in physics class, mainly because I really liked the girl I sat next to in lab and was much more interested in our own personal chemistry and biology.
The Big Bang Theory (not just an hilarious sitcom) happened about 14 billion years ago. Again it too is a theory. The universe has either existed indefinitely or had a beginning. This theory deals with its beginning.
Let’s say the Big Bang happened. The universe was then just a mass of energy, a caldron of energy stew, a super cloud, something…yet no matter existed. So how did matter form, like Earth, the planets, the solar system? The theory proffered is that subatomic particles, bosons, acted like a gel or glue to bring energy into matter. That’s what Higgs and many cohorts think. So they search for the Higgs boson, or God Particle.
How we doing? As if from some Bond villain lair, scientists have built the world’s largest subatomic particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is a 27 km circular collider tunnel, 600 feet underground, beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It contains 2 adjacent proton beam pipes. Almost 10,000 superconducting magnets will steer beams around a circle at a temperature of -271C, colder than outer space.
They are trying to recreate the mess that was post Big Bang, then see if it gives rise to particles that constitute matter. If so, THAT’S the God Particle, the Higgs boson.
PHEW,…there! Got it? Over 2200 scientists from 37 countries are working on this, including a team from Canada. Stephen Hawking says a good theory must fill 2 requirements: 1) It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model with only a few arbitrary elements, and 2) It must make definite predictions about the results of future observations.
Hawking says this is an exciting time either way, whether they find it or not. It sure is. I am also waiting for “creationists” to object to the term God Particle but they too travel in circles at accelerated speed and also have many theories that are difficult to prove. LEAVE COMMENTS.
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Oh, btw, to further confuse things, you can watch this.