Friday, July 27, 2012

Discovery of the God Particle and Republican Alternate Universe!

A lot of people have been asking me lately, "Rick, what exactly is a boson, anyway?" And I have to tell them that it is common knowledge that a boson is a subatomic particle that is governed by Bose–Einstein statistics, which of course describes one of two possible ways in which a collection of indistinguishable particles may occupy a set of available discrete energy states, and apply only to those particles not limited to single occupancy of the same state—that is, particles that do not obey the restriction known as the Pauli exclusion principle. This means that two particles can occupy the same state, and when you have two particles occupying the same state you have what is known as a "Bosonmate," thereby giving them the capability to steer and paint ships of various sizes and colors.
Swab the decks too!
I have to admit particle physics is not my area of expertise. As a matter of fact I don't have any areas of expertise. However, it has come to my attention that those crazy folks at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN (I don't know why) celebrated the Second Continental Congress's adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Britain (the 4th of July), by announcing that two independent teams had each confirmed the formal discovery of a previously unknown boson of a mass between 125–127 GeV/c2 (gigaelectronvolt/speed of light squared), whose behavior so far has been "consistent with" a Higgs boson, which practically everyone (I know I have) has been looking for since it was first proposed in 1964 by Professor Peter Higgs, who coincidently happens to have the same name as the particle.
Now as far as bosons go the Higgs is pretty massive, and the only way we know how to observe one of them is to speed up other particles like protons close to the speed of light (approximately 186,282 miles per second in a vacuum) using a particle accelerator, which is very good at this kind of stuff, and smash them into each other to see what happens (hopefully the Earth won't blow up). The good people at CERN just happen to have the largest particle accelerator on Earth called the Large Hadron Collider (picture above (a hadron is a type of particle that includes protons)). As our good large headed friend Sean Hannity often says, "some say" the Large Hadron Collider was specifically built just to find the Higgs Boson (at a cost of approximately 9 billion dollars to build, and 4.4 more to operate, the Higgs will almost be the most expensive boson ever to be  found, and one of the many reasons I've never found it. I just don't have that much disposable income at the present time).
Let's be clear, the CERN people have not stated they have actually found the Higgs. What they announced was they detected a particle that is consistent with the properties the Higgs is theorized to have. Further tests and analysis of available data may confirm that the Higgs has indeed been found.
So why do we care? Why have I been searching so stridently and for so long for the Higgs? Why is it commonly referred to as "The God Particle," even though scientists in general, and Dr. Higgs in particular, dislike the term?
First things first. Why do we care?
Beats me.
Naw, just kidding. We care because the discovery of the Higgs Particle in nature would help solidify what is called the Standard Model of physics, which is the most successful theory of how everything works in our universe.
"The Higgs boson is an elementary scalar particle first posited in 1962 [I say 64], as a potential byproduct of the mechanism by which a hypothetical, ubiquitous quantum field – the so-called Higgs field – gives mass to elementary particles. More specifically, in the standard model of particle physics, the existence of the Higgs boson explains how spontaneous breaking of electroweak symmetry takes place in nature." -The Guardian
The Higgs Particle indicates the presence of a Higgs Field that permeates throughout the entire universe giving particles the quality of mass (scientifically speaking mass can be defined as a quantitative measure of an object's resistance to acceleration (minus a gravitational field). Typically we relate mass to weight (within a gravitational field), what gives substance to substances. Remember, Albert Einstein theorized in his famous equation E=MC2 (Energy equals Mass times the speed of light squared) that mass and energy are interchangeable, and that everything that isn't mass is energy... or nothing. The Higgs Field kind of slows other particles like protons and electrons down so they can bind together.
Now if the universe did not propagate the quality of mass within it, we wouldn't be here, which is probably why Leon Lederman called the Higgs the God Particle in his 1993 book on the subject, and the answer to our third question above. The atoms and molecules that make up our bodies wouldn't exist if they didn't have mass. Nothing else would either. The universe without a Higgs Field would be a universe of fast moving tiny electrons and protons zipping by each other and doing absolutely nothing of value.
That is why we care about the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
Why have I been searching for it so long?
I'm very lonely and have nothing better to do.
Check out this CNN interview with distinguished physicist Michio Kaku:
The idea of parallel universes, or "alternative universes," "quantum universes," "interpenetrating dimensions," "parallel dimensions," "parallel worlds," "alternative realities," "alternative timelines," "dimensional planes," and "multiverses," has been around for awhile, long before the idea of the Higgs Boson even. As a matter of fact the term multiverse was coined by the American psychologist/philosopher William James in 1895. And it turns out... appropriately and ironically so.
As we still haven't officially identified the Higgs particle, we have no quantitative, physical, verifiable evidence of all of these other universes... except...
... for the fact that our dear Republican brothers and sisters seem to be living in at least one of them, in a universe far, far away, and divorced from our own...

To be continued:

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