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Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Dr. Higgs, Your Boson Is Here

By July 5, 2012

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Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider announced yesterday that they may well have found the long-sought after Higgs boson, sometimes called the "God particle," which is the final missing part of the Standard Model of particle physics. Theoretical physicist Peter Higgs predicted the existence of the particle back in the 1960's, but he was so far ahead of the technology that it took nearly half a century to actually get the first glimpse of the thing ... except, of course, for the glimpses that are all around us, if Higgs is right.

Peter Higgs awaits word from CERN on the potential discovery of the Higgs Boson
Peter Higgs awaits word from CERN on the potential discovery of the Higgs boson
Source: CERN

Because if he is right, then evidence of the Higgs boson is everywhere. See, the reason Peter Higgs needed to propose his theory was that the physical theories he had to work with at the time had one major flaw: they didn't explain why there was any stuff in the universe.

That's right. The very best scientific explanations that physicists could come up with had a gaping hole in the middle of them. They depicted a universe that was so elegant and finely tuned that ... it shouldn't actually have anything in it. For example, the gauge bosons that mediate the weak nuclear force (called the W boson and Z boson) should, according to theory, have absolutely no mass. But they do have mass! So Peter Higgs set out to try to explain why and how matter itself could exist, in a way that was fully consistent with all of the known laws of physics.

The result was to propose a field in empty space, a field that permeates all of space, called the Higgs field, which has the right properties needed to give mass to these particles ... and, in turn, to cause the mass of all the rest of the universe, as well.

And, in quantum physics, fields can also be expressed as particles (one of the many weird things about quantum physics), so the resulting particle was called the Higgs boson. (It was called a boson because it had a spin of 0. If it had a spin of one-half it would have been a Higgs fermion, but then it wouldn't have been able to do what it needed to do!)

As with most things in physics, that's an over-simplification of the story. It sounds like Higgs came up with the whole idea out of nowhere, and he didn't. The ideas were built on the work of others and many others came upon similar ideas at almost exactly the same time, so even calling the resulting fields and particles "Higgs" can be a controversial thing to do. Still, the fact is that he was a key player in creating the model which, over the last almost-fifty years, has been refined to explain how the symmetries of the universe are broken in the precise way that we need in order to get matter.

And that model may be about to be confirmed by experimental evidence!

Congrats to you, Peter Higgs ... and to all the other players in this drama that is theoretical physics!

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Comments

July 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm
(1) Nathan Burd says:

It is a wee bit challenging to continue to read titles of articles that claim that we’ve found the boson in question. We found a particle with a certain mass that yielded two photons. Isn’t that about it? While it may be, in fact, the Higgs boson, scientists will be wary about calling it such until its properties are determined to match that of the Higgs boson. Andrew, why did you have to continue the poor understanding of the masses?!?

Nate Burd

July 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm
(2) Dean Sinclair says:

One can come up with another “God Unit” in the following way.

Assume that there is a universal field, ala Higgs, which consists of a substance of unknown extent and undefined basic unit, which is organized into/or organized by oscillators. Within this field are the totality electromagnetic wave motions of all possible types organized such that each frequency wavelength has a complement which has the reversed situation of wavelength and frequency, such that the average or inversion frequency/wavelength of our universe, has the frequency/wavelength, absolute value of the square root of the speed of light.

This value, c^0.5, would correspond to a control, or central unit which could be expected to be critical to all of existence. For this unit there can be calculated a mass of Planck’s Constant times c^-1.5, (hc^-1.5) .

One could consider this unit as being the equivalent of Professor Higgs particle. and it would be a unit which can be studied without the use of a multi-billion dollar particle accelerator.

The above is somewhat “tongue in cheek” as a proposal; however, the writer considers it as possibly as valid as any thing that the CERN people will come up with.

As one may guess, the writer considers the entire Standard Model as being a modern, chemistry/physics equivalent of the Geocentric Model of the Solar System. That is a model based on misapprehensions and false assumptions bolstered with enough additional specious assumptions to somehow seem to give logical results.

July 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm
(3) TeeK says:

Dean, is this trolling or do you actually believe any of what you said?

Organized into or by oscillators. Oscillators are just things that vary some other quantity – What are these oscillators supposed to be varying for one thing? Within what field? And what does “totality electromagnetic wave motions” mean?

I’m all for looking at things in a different way, but this makes no sense at all. The scientific experiments done so far, prove there are gaps in our knowledge, but they also prove themselves right the rest of the time. What I think you are proposing would mean all our experiments so far would not have been able to predict anything, and yet they have. No one sensible believes we have everything right, but a solution which would require all the “prediction-experiment-prooved” to be wrong so far, has to be kind of non-nonsensical don’t you think?

July 10, 2012 at 12:06 am
(4) iainmacc says:

Thanks Andrew for the article. When I saw the Higgs Partical thingy on the TV I thought I’d wait until I heard from you. I notice others questioning some of your decissions. Frankly I’m more than happy to have your explantion simplified for me to get a handle on it. At least in my circle of friends I’m going to sound knowledgable.

July 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm
(5) Dean Sinclair says:

Yes, Teek,
I believe most of what I said, and am only a bit skeptical about the iidenktity o f the average electromagnetic wave value being the same as the “Higgs Boson.” I will say that it makes just as much sense….

If you read closely, my model of existence postulates that there is a “unilversal something” which is organized into ioscillators.. I have actually published quite a bit of material on the Internet about a comprenensive “framework for the physiical sciences” which answers many questionn which are cosidere4d “insolviable mysteries” by some authorities.

Much of this work, up to about two years ago, can be found on the following URL. www,groups.google.com/group/cillatorsubstance-theory.
Dean L. Sinclailr, BA, MS, PhD No, I’m not trolling, at least I don’t think so!

July 21, 2012 at 5:01 am
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