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Sunday, 4 November 2012
HAVE FAITH IN THE HIGGS BOSON
Oh Where, tell me Where; has my true Higgs Boson gone?
A GOOGLE search on 4th November 2012, 4 months after CERN spotted something that looked very like the Higgs Boson (and thus the Higgs Field), brings little or no updated news. It did turn up this Huffington Post video "explaining" the Higgs, which does feature the prettiest Higgs presenter to date, somewhat like a youthful Sarah Palin with a brain, eclipsing even the charisma and enthusiasm of the handsome Professor Brian Cox.
But I can find little or nothing new from July to November that advances common-sense understanding.
New Scientist, 3 November 2012, reviews a hastily published book The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll, California Institute of Technology, but the review gives no explanation of what the author may have concluded, other than it is NOT the source of mass but might add some mass to the electron - but not really. We are essentially being told that "it is complicated" so we non-theoretical-particle-physicists should firstly support the massive CERN budget requests and then secondly, hurry away and get on with our humdrum lives and not bother our limited confused hot little brains with trying to grasp the lofty principles that our intellectual betters wrestle with in smoke filled cloud chambers and alternative universes.
We are admonished by Carroll thus: "It's not supposed to be easy, we're talking about discoveries that resulted in multiple Nobel prizes". To which I respond with Albert Einstein telling lecturers "If you cannot explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough".
I recall that as a grubby and suspicious Roman Catholic child at primary school, my penetrating heathen analyses of Jesuitical philosphical mazes such as the Tranfiguration of the Blessed Virgin Mary (taken up body and soul, still alive and kicking, into Heaven) were rebuffed by a priest with long hairs springing from his nostrils and a strong Irish brogue: "Ah! Tis a holy mystery of faith" that was beyond common, sinful, pedestrian minds to grasp. What I did grasp, aged six, was that the guy hadn't the faintest clue of what he was talking about - and was wriggling like a latter day politician in the crushing jaws of my inescapable logic. We can only hope that today's particle physicists are not all covert Jesuits in labcoats.
So where does it leave us? I must still assume, humbly and relying only on a deep faith and chanting the CERN Catechism, that the instantly evaporating Higgs Boson and its persistent universe filling Higgs Field is or are or were the "missing" piece or process of the sub-atomic particle zoo that does indeed confer mass (weight) to other particles, probably to the ubiquitous electron, maybe to quarks, and is thus the process or trigger or gateway or (for heaven's sake) the journalists' "custard" that turns light into matter - spins straw into gold - compresses the pure energy from the alleged Big Bang into particles - that make the phenomena we observe all around us - on every scale. If the GOD PARTICLE does not miraculously enable the energy to convert to mass - then what does? And can we please have more views, more metaphors, more understanding from the experts. (Remember the Italian Earthquake scientists - And Tremble).