The Higgs boson, the Higgs, the God Particle is the hypothetical particle believed to give matter it's mass.  Proposed by Peter Higgs and other physicists it has been the object of search at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  After running the LHC continually for five months, "CERN scientists declared that over the entire range of energy the Collider had explored...the Higgs boson is excluded as a possibilty with a 95% probability."

 

Although there is still a 5% chance that it may still be found in this range (the search will continue until the end of the year), and the lower ranges have been explored by smaller colliders, it is possible that the Higgs does not exist.  And this would be a blow to the unification theory of electromagnetic and weak forces and how the universe came into being.

 

I don't know why, but I was disappointed at the news.  But then I thought, what does it really matter?  What would have been accomplished that would have had a positive impact on humanity?  Are all the billions that have spent on this project spent simply to satisfy the curiosty of the physicists - or is there something more?

 

I believe that pure, undirected research, is important - but this search makes me hesitate.   

 

(Scientific American, Guest Blog by Amir Aczel)  

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Replies to This Discussion

 

(Mirrors our theory of reality)

 

I'm talking about a parallel universe that is so close to you that you can feel a draft as it zips by -- relativity was a piece of cake compared to this. : )

You're referring to the way that gravity apparently extends between universes, along one of the dimensions above the 4 that we experience, according to some mathematical models?  I bet we'll come up with a way to test that, eventually.  Until then, you either wait for confirming evidence or wait to see what sort of real-world uses they can produce based upon the model.  Without something like that, it just remains an interesting, possible idea, which you shouldn't accept as absolute, yes.

 

I'm not really bashing all those theoretical models, its just that we talk about as if they are real (the Higgs) without a speck of evidence  as to their existance.  Now that the Higgs may be kaput, we can move on to other theories.  But do you really, really, really believe that we'll get solid evidence of other dimensions and universes?

 

I really don't know.  I believe that others are trying to find solid evidence.  Until then, I enjoy reading up on potential models.  I also enjoy science-fiction.  I enjoy reading lots of things that might be true, and I await any real reason to take it seriously.

 

I do too.

 

By the way, does anyone know if Hawking has a counter-theory, since he bet against the Higgs? 

Hmm, I haven't read his new book yet. Anyone know if there's anything about that in there?

 

This will take a monumental "quantum" leap. : )

Further up in the thread I heard some people mention that Hawking had bet against the LHC finding the Higgs particle.

Part of the logic of his bet seemed to be that finding it would tie up all the loose ends of the Standard Model and and pretty much put an end to novel particle physics research, so it wouldn't be "exciting".  Not finding it means we have to revisit our whole model and check to see if we've missed something cool.

And finding something paradigm-shifting and new would be interesting indeed! Also, I don't think I'd want to bet against Hawking on.. well anything.

However, if some of the new theories are right, we'd need new colliders with building and energy costs that, quite frankly, I can't see our current business elites and political masters allowing.

I don't know the specific details of the "bet", but I wonder if it was made tongue-in-cheek?  If not, what does Hawking know that he's not saying?

 

Why so?  The guy's been in the forefront on major issues, no?

You're right to call me on what looks like blind faith -- though I don't think that is what I am doing here.

I have preliminary trust in Hawkins, since he has such a proven track record... and that seems to me a rather different thing than unwarranted confidence or faith.  And yes, there's a little bias to my viewpoint since I am hoping for a radical shakeup in particle physics.

Still, having a little trust is not unreasonable in a situation like this, since I am not qualified to understand these early results yet.  (The same goes for many areas of unsettled scientific and medical research, come to think of it.)  If the scientific consensus eventually changes to something else, I will change my views.. hence the 'preliminary' aspect to this.  As long as I'm open to changing later, I don't think I'm being intellectually lazy here.

Of course, the whole concept of scientific consensus could be another debate.

Oh, no worries; it doesn't come across as harsh.  It is quite fair to raise a flag when it looks like blind faith or hero worship is coming into play, instead of logic and reason.  Though as far as heroes go, you're right, he's kind of an awe-inspiring guy.

I am also quite confident that there are plenty of good physicists who will happily call him out if he's making a mistake, too.  CERN is full of smart folks after all, and lets face it, finding (or proving you can't find) the Higgs would be worth a Nobel or two, right?  So there's a lot of active interest.

From what I've heard, its looking more and more likely the LHC >won't< find the Higgs.  If Hawkins could make his guess as to why he was right (and his thoughts on the implications) understandable to an educated lay person I'd love to learn them.

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