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Is the Higgs Boson the God Particle or the Goddamn Particle ?

Is the Higgs Boson the God Particle or the Goddamn Particle ?

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2012 may become the Year of the Higgs. Over 5000 particle physicists have made a New Year’s resolution to finally discover this elusive particle or prove it doesn’t exist after all. For nearly half a century, physicists have searched for the Higgs boson, consuming over $10 billion and the careers of thousands of scientists. We may soon have a definitive result — or not.

  • Why is the Higgs boson such a big deal?

Many physicists believe the Higgs boson would “explain” why other particles have mass. This isn’t just academic. Particles without mass travel at the speed of light and are unable to form atoms, stars, planets, and life. Therefore, understanding the origin of mass is compelling.

There are 16 known fundamental particles (plus their antimatter versions). I didn’t include the graviton, the supposed “carrier” of gravity that remains undetected. Of the known particles, the photon and gluon have zero mass and the three types of neutrinos probably have very small masses, but these are not yet measured. The other 11 particles have non-zero masses that are all different and that span a huge range — the top quark “weighs” 338,000 times more than the electron. (Antiparticles have exactly the same mass as their particle partners.) We know precisely what these 11 mass values are, but don’t really have an explanation for why each has that particular value. In fact, we don’t know why any particle should have mass, or even what “mass” is.

To plug this embarrassing void, several theorists, including British physicist Peter Higgs, proposed the Higgs boson, a new hypothetical particle that is unlike all known fundamental particles (it has spin 0). The Higgs is said to be the only particle that is intrinsically massive; other particles get their mass by interacting to varying degrees with the Higgs “field” that permeates all space — it is everywhere, always. Other particles, such as electrons, interact with the Higgs field and in some sense “clump” with Higgs bosons, thereby acquiring mass. Some particles interact strongly with Higgs bosons and thus have large masses, while photons don’t interact with them at all and thus have zero mass.

But is that really an explanation? We replaced 16 unexplained masses with 16 unexplained Higgs interaction strengths (“coupling constants”). This may simply redefine our ignorance, effectively “kicking the can down the road.” Ultimately, this may prove to be an important advance of science, but I’d say we’re a long way from demonstrating that, even if the Higgs boson is discovered.

In his 1994 book, experimental physicist and Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman nicknamed the Higgs boson “The God Particle.” Lederman said he really wanted to name it “The Goddamn Particle” but his publisher vetoed that. This dichotomy highlights a schism between the two camps of fundamental particle physics.

Long ago, every physicist measured, calculated, and pondered: Why? Eventually the field grew so complex that no one could excel at all these tasks, and physicists split into two camps: experimentalists and theorists. Theorists strive to develop mathematical models of nature, while experimentalists build instruments and measure what nature does. The last physicist who was truly great in both theory and experiment was Enrico Fermi, who died in 1954. Today, virtually no one attempts to do both theory and experiment — the schism is complete.

For theorists who believe the Higgs boson plugs a major hole in their mathematical models, it may be the “God Particle.” But for experimentalists who have searched in vain for decades, the “Goddamn Particle” seems more apt.

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11 thoughts on “Is the Higgs Boson the God Particle or the Goddamn Particle ?

  1. haha It’s humorous cause it concludes the idea of what this particle is to theoretical and experimental physicist while providing interesting trivia about how the name came about “god particle”

    Posted by Nat | January 7, 2012, 7:10 AM
  2. The problem here is that most of the time prove that something doenst exist is almost impossible, the greatest success for the LHC would be to prove this “God Particule” doenst exist.
    In the “relativistic quantum theories’ that are predictive what is not forbidden is compulsory, the only way to prohibit a process that cant be seen is that a symmetry of the theory do it.
    Another problem is that most of the particules are unstable so you need to create them using a lot of energy before study them.

    is an issue that can be discussed for hours I think the standard model of particles in physics will be unfinished for a while.
    But considering LHC is is among other things a machine to shake the vacuum and the uncertainty about this particule i prefer to call Higgs Boson “kenonón” which in Greek means empy (i read this while ago in another article i dont remember the name).

    Great article Man sorry for the english is hard for me to write in english, so maybe what I wrote does not make sense at all.

    Posted by roberto | January 7, 2012, 8:15 AM
  3. Completely agree. Also, the Higgs field does not explain the equivalence between inertial mass and gravitational mass, and that seems quite anoying to me.

    Posted by Eamon | January 7, 2012, 7:25 PM
  4. Very intreresting blog. It was very useful. I was looking exaxtly for this. Thank you for your effort. I hope you will write more such useful posts.

    Posted by place | January 11, 2012, 6:03 PM
  5. Really nice pattern and excellent subject matter, practically nothing else we want :D.

    Posted by Winston Maerz | January 19, 2012, 7:49 PM
  6. Great job, beautiful blog with great informational content. This is a really interesting and informative content.

    Posted by pozycjonowanie | January 25, 2012, 5:15 PM
  7. Recent Blogroll Additions……

    Posted by Merlin Engels | January 29, 2012, 12:36 PM
  8. Read balloon inside balloon theory of matter and antimatter universe on opposite entropy path producing gravitoethertons at common boundary by annihilation of matter and antimatter which we are seeking as GOD PARTICLE. It is a kind of dark energy we know as space or ether and is actually a bunch of five god particles –four for four fundamental forces and one for gravity. We have to be careful in our deduction and not to apply relativity or quantum theory as we live in non isotropic gravitoethertons soup universe creating the magic at our part of the universefor fine tuning. More you will get in papers in ASTRONOMY.NET –PUBLISHED BY DIURGADAS DATTA. IN YEAR 2002.

    Posted by DURGADAS DATTA | January 30, 2012, 7:02 PM
  9. There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well.

    Posted by Cedric Beamon | February 2, 2012, 1:39 AM
  10. Electron Space-The Conduit to Advanced Technology! The other way that scientists will discover how the universe works and how particles move in space is to develop a computer program capable of mapping the inside of an atomic particle. Science has decided to build huge particle accelerators like the one at CERN. However, this research will finally reveal new information worthy of further exploration but the secret of success will not come in this way but rather by developing a computer program that is capable of mapping the inside of an atomic particle.

    Elements possess varied electron conduction properties. Scientists must first select an element or combination of elements such as sodium chloride (NACL) for example, where the electron conduits are large and easier to map. In elements with larger “E. Conduits” the electrons are moving at relative slower speeds. Water (H2O) has huge electron conduits and slow moving electrons but because of its fluidity it is unstable and so would be an impediment for experimentation. So, whatever substance is selected, the electrons must be numerous and slow moving as this undertaking requires stable and consistent computer measurement. Every geometrical formation that exists within the atomic particle must be charted. These geometrical formations will prove to science that other dimensional particles are intersecting particles that exist within our spectrum of perception or dimension.[more…]

    Posted by | May 15, 2012, 3:49 AM


  1. Pingback: Breaking News: Higgs Boson’s Discovery Is Announced « Indian Young Scientist Network - July 5, 2012

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