I watched the CERN webcast live at 2:00am PST, but I’m still not sure
what exactly to think about the discovery they announced,
and the particle they are calling Higgs’.
We can say we found a Higgs boson, but not the Higgs boson.
Rolf Heuer, Director General, CERN
Physicists have been testing (and confirming) parameters of the Standard Model
for more than three decades now.
So hearing that CERN has finally found “a Higgs boson” is a little bit like
NASA’s gravity probe experiment confirming Einstein’s general relativity;
Are we just tilting at windmills trying to build the actual test harnesses to match decades old Gedankenexperiment? It just doesn’t feel like pushing the envelope.
Or are we one step closer to something
Truly amazing? And what would that truly amazing thing even be?
Perhaps it’s ultimately a question of religion.
If you believe in the theory of evolution,
then you believe that human’s path is
inexplicit–based on pure randomness.
But perhaps, there is order behind the chaos.
Perhaps if we look deep enough with our tools
and our technology we may find something.
Something that will have the potential to change
We’re spending capital. Human, fiat, whatever
it may be, we’re spending it on CERN and their LHC
marvel that it may be. Perhaps not an incredible amount,
but a significant amount. So what’s the great payoff?
Yes, It’s a thirst for knowledge,
Yes, It’s a frontier that must be explored
Yes, It’s a hubris that we one day might be able to control it all.
And that’s perhaps reason enough why we should love this yet-to-be truly-discovered discovery.
Back at the press conference, Rolf Heuer, the Director General of CERN, painfully articulated
what they have and have not discovered. He told us we should stay tuned for bigger news in 2016.
A reporter pleaded, give us something to capture the general public’s imagination!
and Heuer responded that the podium had nothing to offer.
I’ll be the first to admit, on the topic of particle physics,
I’m more apt to think of the latest WebGL demo than of a lab in Geneva.
So I asked around; am I missing something?
Higgs boson is the last remaining particle predicted by the Standard Model, which has predicted every particle ever found.
It’s existence unifies electromagnetism and the weak force of radioactive decay. Since, like Special Relativity, the Standard Model does not account for gravity, this is a major simplification.
It provides the first rigorous explanation of why mass exists, why things have mass.
It’s existence provides some — but not overwhelming — evidence in support of Supersymmetry, which is, along with String Theory, a candidate for the ultimate Unified Theory (of everything).
It means that the $10 billion invested in the LHC was money well spent. If the Higgs boson had not been found, the money would have been less productive but still not wasted.
I think what I’m still stuck wondering is, after we unlock the so-called
secrets of the universe,
what will we do with them?