Tuesday, July 24, 2012


That's a photograph of a "God Particle." What is it? Why are scientists celebrating?

Next to John Cullum, my husband's side of the bed, there's a bible, and a book by Stephen Hawking. John is fascinated by "black holes" and religion.

Einstein's relativity, the Fourth Dimension, speed of light, black holes, and gravity are not my cup of tea.

I remember Newton and the apple, but what is "matter," why do things have "mass," why does "matter" have gravity -- when JC's talking about "particles," I find myself blinking -- not bored, but not sure what we're talking about.

I can chat about who's winning in sports, but except for the Green Bay Packers, and Roger Federer, it doesn't excite me. I don't know why "matter" is such an important issue, so I went on a Googling news adventure.

The God Particle is being celebrated at the Cern laboratory outside Geneva. The lab houses the large Hadron Collider.

At the center bottom of this picture, you can see a tiny figure (it's in a dark jacket, brown pants), and get a sense of the size of the machine that is the world's most powerful particle accelerator.

It's mammoth. The Hadron Collider sends subatomic protons (smaller ones) racing in opposite directions through a 17-mile tunnel, getting them to move faster and faster until, at nearly the speed of light. They collide head on -- bang-crash-boom -- smash together.

The impact vaporizes the particles into tiny fireballs of pure energy. The scientists doing this, have announced that they have, with this process, re-created the conditions of the first moments after the Big Bang. Each collision is a mini Big Bang creating many particles that decay into many, many other particles. But one particle -- the one that Peter Higgs, top scientist at the University of Edinburgh, saw, noted, measured, and photographed and claimed, forty years ago, that it occurred at the same place, same time, does in fact, occur at the same place with each test.

It's called the "Higgs Boson." In particle physics "boson" is a rarely used term that, means particle. (My husband pronounced it "bow son" -- is that southern politeness? Maybe it's booson --sort of like a woman's chest?)

Anyway, it's a huge discovery. Though the Higgs Boson is called "The God particle," it needed to be proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Proving it required many, many, many thousands of fireballs, and the giant accelerator has been cranking them out. . To me, reading through a mountain of technical descriptions, it seemed to be much ado over a very tiny thing, but a particle, according to Hawking, is probably what created the world.

On July 4th, the Cern lab team announced that they have proved the Higgs Boson.


Does it prove God created the world? What about all the the other fantastical things that scientists can't really explain? Does the Higgs Bosom prove God created them?

I'm not ready to discuss any of of this with bible-Hawking-book-reader-husband JC. But I'm excited, amazed, wondering what the Cern Lab Scientists are going to do next about the God Particle. How it's going to affect you and me?


Ameer S. Washington said...

I read this story back when it broke and thought to myself, a whopping, "so what!" Sure it might help advance science and technology, but I'm not sure if we'll come any closer to explaining the purpose of life. If God does exist, he keeps that a true mystery. Why here, why us, and if the receivers of Heaven will spend eternity praying and worshiping God in utter happiness, why did we have to come here. Couldn't we have started at that point. Makes Hell seem like an unfair exchange for living sinful and not asking to be put on this Earth.

If this particle somehow proves in the minds of many God does not exist, then it further complicates matters for we'll really be lost since no one has been able to explain the purpose of our existence. Then I'd really want to know why I have emotions, get attached to people, and even why I have to have a job.

Or maybe God and science have been at war for no reason when they're really one in the same and God pops up every time one of these little explosions sets off or was the damned God-particle there before the explosion/set the explosion off and we just couldn't see it until it happened and since no one was around when the first explosion happened, it's a discovery that's really not a discovery since it was there all the long and older humans were just incapable of seeing it, and now this generation and the next gets to be the unlucky ones who happen to see it.

I'm rambling right. I say screw it all, eat, drink, and be merry. You're gonna die either way. ahahahahahah!

Peggy Bechko said...

Fascinating to think where it's all going. I'm captivated by PBS when they have Brian Green or Neil deGrass Tyson (I know I spelled those names wrong -sorry) - love being confused by new physics and all the rest. Great post, Em

Anonymous said...

I find all this to be amazing and profound.
Thanks for sharing all this important info.
Makes one wonder about all of things still unanswered..... kam

Janus said...

With no offense intended the scientists have discovered a boson, could it be the higgs boson, yes, could it be another boson that is similar in it's characteristics as the higgs boson? the answer is again yes. In both cases more tests must be run to fully understand this phenomenon and classify it. What this means for you and me? Well nothing really, the discovery, while big in the scientific community, means nothing for the ordinary man: it doesn't prove the existence of god, nor does it disprove the existence, what it does help with is further research in this field and it broadens our understanding of the universe around us, it is also a stepping stone in the search for more particles and a stepping stone towards possible new technologies to benefit all man kind. Will this process be fast? Not at all, it could take years but this is a start and everything must have a start somewhere :)

Carola said...

There are some scientific discoveries that are fascinating to me (like the latest information about early humans in the Americas), but I'm like you -- Higgs Boson is a yawn for me. I guess it's important for discovering the origins of the universe, but I don't think there's much chance of our figuring that out.

Linda Phillips said...

Em, you amaze me with your ability to research things that mainly don't even interest you. You are truly something else!

I would be bored silly, although the "God" part would be extremely interesting. The whole Big Bang Theory is exceptionally interesting.

Plow on for us!

Anonymous said...

Your article made me remember the time, many years ago, when I decided that I was going to understand Einstein's theory before the day was over. I'd tried many times before, but it just wouldn't take―my brain just would not wrap itself around the concept described by the words.

It was about ten AM when I sat down in a cubicle at the Georgia Tech library, surrounded by all the best info I could find on the subject. I sat there until after dark reading, focusing, and concentrating. When I walked back to my apartment that night, I understood Einstein's theory and I was walking on air―the mystery had been unraveled.

The next morning over coffee, I decided to take out my newly discovered knowledge and revel in it, like a kid pulling a new toy out of his pocket. I reached in for it and not surprisingly, my understanding of the theory of relativity had escaped from my brain during the night.

That was one of my first introductions to the fact that there are things out there that I wasn't meant to comprehend. From that time forth, when I see an article about something like the "Higg's Particle", I sort of skim over it―I know it's going to be way over my head.

As Dirty Harry said, "A man's got to know his limitations".

I'm proud, but not surprised, to learn that JC is one of those rare souls who does comprehend this stuff. He's an amazing man.

Y'all keep up the good work

Poet_Carl_Watts said...

Good Question Em. The proved that had a something they call a particle. Your right what's going to happen when the split that one. They will NEVER find the smallest particle, cause there's always half of that. Matter is merely motion compressed in space.

Scientist love to spout "theories" as if they were facts. Einstein's theory, theory of black holes, worm holes, 4th Dimension, the big bang, all theories.

Here's a question for John, what is the definition of space?

Have a great day :-)


Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that it's called the God Particle because it is the one particle that causes the other subatomic particles to bind together. So if this particle didn't exist, atoms and molecules could not exist and there wouldn't be matter, elements, suns, moons, stars or us.
In effect, it is somewhat like a god, in that it made life, the universe and everything, possible.
Louise Sorensen
louise3anne twitter

Nafisa Ford said...

Warning I am about to go on a philosophical jaunt. What I see in this news is that the smallest things do matter. That what we do either brings us together or tears us apart. We have the power to make change happen.
As for your scientific questions, I have no answers and yawn with misunderstood words and confusions.
I do enjoy knowing that there are people asking questions and looking for answers no matter what the size and scope. And the visual was quite amazing, showing how much bigger than a mere human this undertaking was/is.
Thanks for the science lesson Em and the philosophical journey.

Paul Mendenhall said...

On the one hand, I support scientific enquiry. On the other, it annoys me when they try to make statements about God based on that.

I am fundamentally eastern in my view of God; that is, I see He/She/It as being a unified field of consciousness that contains all that is, including us. So we can never "find" God, because that which we are looking for is that which is doing the looking! It is like trying to see the back of your own eyeballs. Saint Paul defined God as "that in which we live and move and have our being." Jesus said: "The kingdom of heaven is within you." So this isn't an entirely eastern outlook.

It's always been obvious to me that you can't keep splitting matter up indefinitely. Eventually you come to sheer energy. And energy can never be directly perceived, but only theorized from the behavior of matter. So you arrive at a paradox: the world is made of nothing, and yet we perceive it. What else can it be then but consciousness? Nearly a century ago, a famous physicist said: "The world begins to resemble a great thought more than anything else." All physicists KNOW this, but they fight against it, terrified of saying anything that might give aid and comfort to the "enemy:" religion.

I find the whole arguement ridiculous, and the arrogance of all the parties involved tiresome.