Rumors of God

The Higgs boson is one of the most important, most abstract, and most interesting ideas in current physics. Dubbed the “god” particle after an editor disallowed one of the co-discoverers from calling it “that goddamn particle”, it is the only remaining particle in the Standard Model that has not been directly observed by humans.

The fact that we’ve never seen any evidence of its presence is a big deal. The Standard Model is a shining jewel of modern physics, a mathematical model describing the most basic facets of the world using a symmetry group. The predictions of this model have been confirmed so many times and in so many different ways that it’s almost become more exciting to think of what it would mean if the theory were broken by some strange event than to rejoice at yet another correct prediction.

So this is why the missing Higgs boson fascinates so many. But why is it missing at all? The answer comes from the Standard model itself and its mathematical foundations. Like the sides of a many-faceted jewel, a symmetry group has many parts, all reflecting some basic property of an underlying structure. Every single observation so far indicates a jewel of a certain shape, and we’ve seen every face except for one. There seems to be no other possible structure that would fit the observations and create a complete crystal to speak, so we’re left inevitably with the conclusion that one face remains in the dark.

Broken Silence

But now something very interesting has happened. Evidence of the Higgs boson may have been found! Not at the new and fancy Large Hadron Collider, but the good old Tevatron, home of Fermilab. Apparently a rather prominent physicist passed some rumours going around the physics world to a blogger.

On a completely different issue, I’ve heard that there’s a rumor going around Aspen that the Tevatron will be announcing discovery of gluon + b → b + Higgs, which would then require large tan(beta), which would fit the MSSM. I guess we’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

This is big news – the observations indicate a “light” Higgs boson, which is why the older Tevatron was able to find it when everyone thought the higher power Large Hadron Collider would be required. What does a light Higgs boson mean? Something very inspiring – that particle physics isn’t quite done figuring out the world quite yet.

…a light Higgs boson pretty much proves that there has to be new physics beyond the Standard Model well below the Planck scale. The new particles should be bosons and the only natural reasons why the Higgs, or the new bosons, should stay light is supersymmetry.

The best fits based on this assumption imply that the squarks and slepton masses – and more generally, other superpartner masses – should be close to 500 GeV or so and they should be observable by the LHC, possibly by the end of 2011.

But what does Fermilab, the apparent source of this grand discovery have to say about it?

I find it interesting that there is not an explicit denial, but a statement that these rumblings in the physics community are “just rumours”. Rumours can’t be published in scientific journals – so I suppose we’ll have to wait and see just what this all means.

About the Author

lives and works in Ontario, Canada.

One Response to “Rumors of God”

  1. My wife thinks it’s strange that I enjoy your website. I think you’re a genius. No, no, no – don’t worry, I’m not some freakish stalker with an alter composed of printouts of each and every one of your blog pages, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous…*evil grin* (kidding!). I’m just a normal, curious kind of dude. Not “Curious” as in, “have you ever seen another grown man naked – Curious”, but “Curious” as in, “What, Why, How and When – Curious”

    I’m not a scientist. No way, Jose`! I was barely a “C – Student” highschool. My understanding of physics can be summed up in – - – well – there is no sum. Most of what I know, and have learned, is information I’ve read in science magazines left out on waiting room tables, information from random web searches due to boredom (how do ya think I got to your page), information I’ve researched in curiousity from my interest in the Universe, but mostly – the fear I have in the ever-present lack of respect that, as a species, some of us have for what’s out there. (I said, “SOME” and not “ALL”)

    Am I fearful that we’ll blow ourselves up in a puff of smoke, like in those childhood cartoons? Not really; What about the LHC being part of those Nostrodamus prophecies? Ummmm – Maybe, maybe not; and what about a black hole being created as a byproduct of the LHC? Not something I’m too stressed over, either.

    I guess I’m fearful of things like; weaponized science (Few people in this generation, here in the U.S., understand that Alfred Nobel created the Nobel Peace prize out of guilt, as his invention to expedite in the building and development of the US railroad system was taken and used as a weapon, instead of it’s initial, and intended purpose). I’m not a physicist, and I am far from understanding how the LHC, Dark Matter, the “GOD” particle, or any of it works; but as a former soldier, I’ve seen the darkest of our species (No propaganda, no commercial ads in place – I’ve seen hell, and it smells like fish).

    Ultimately, I would love to understand what’s holding everything together. I would love to understand the afterlife. I would love to understand life as “we don’t know it” – I only wish that our search for understanding our Universe, this Universe, THE Universe would be considered, a bit more, “Mainstream” and “Global”. Perhaps, here in the US – it’s just not cool to question such things, but I’ve never stopped. I guess that explains why I’ve never been “Cool”. (Oh well, at least my wife is HOT! lol.)

    Keep up the great work, and best of luck to you! As they say here on the islands: “Aloha ke Akua” (God Bless or God is Love; Yeah, yeah, it was supposed to be sarcastic.)

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2014 gmilburn.ca.

Options Theme