Higgs Boson Within Reach: Scientists Hot on the Trail of the “God Particle”

A computer simulation of an event that reveals the existence of the Higgs boson.

Scientists at CERN, the world’s largest particle collider, held a special meeting to announce that they believe they are getting very close to finding definitive proof of the existence of the so-called “God particle” that they have been pursuing for over forty years since it was first proposed by physicist Peter Higgs.  The announcement from CERN was rather vague, with the scientists saying only that they have narrowed down the list of “hiding spots” for the particle and have seen some evidence that they are on the right track.

Ever since the announcement was scheduled, both the media and the physics community have been eagerly anticipating the possibility that the discovery of the mystical particle would be the subject matter to be addressed.  While the news was certainly excited in scientific circles, it was a bit of a let-down.  However, according to the physicists involved, the progress they have made is very important and they seem relatively certain that the days of the Higgs boson being only a theory are about to end.

Peter Higg’s mechanism for how things have mass has been accepted as the best theory going since it was introduced in 1964.  As time passed and more experiments were conducted, all of the inner workings that Higgs suggested were eventually discovered save one:  the Higgs boson.  This final piece of the puzzle has proved the most elusive because of the inherent difficulty in trying to observe it through experimentation.  The recent completion of the Large Hadron Collider beneath France and Switzerland was the breakthrough that left physicists all over the world licking their lips for new data in the kind of range that would make observing the Higgs boson possible.  The collider routinely sends protons at near the speed of light headlong into each other.  These explosions release previously unimaginable amounts of energy that have never been seen on Earth before.  This is the first time that conditions similar to the birth of the universe have been created in a laboratory setting.  By creating explosions of energy that have never been observed, scientists are able to watch the remnants of particles in the aftermath develop into new particles, many of which are very hard to locate in any other setting.  The news that the physicists are so excited about comes after 500 trillion collisions have been conducted inside the collider.

Like all things in science, this only seems to open up more questions.  Even if they find the Higgs boson, it will only prove that the theory proposed in 1964 is indeed correct.  It took them forty-eight years to decide that they might be about to determine this.  Assuming they are successful in the next year or so, they will have a working model for why objects in the universe have mass.  The simplest analogy that physicists have made is that it is like a swimmer in a pool.  As he swims through the water, some of the moisture is absorbed and carried along with the swimmer, increasing its mass temporarily.

A scientist examines data from CERN computers during an experiment.

We at Common Sense Conspiracy recognize that the finding of the Higgs boson will be a monumental moment for physics and will no doubt lead to very impressive leaps in technology, as well as our understanding of the nature of the universe around us.  However, we do point out that calling the Higgs the “God particle” seems a little questionable.  After all, the Higgs mechanism, even when proven, only describes how mass is attained.  It still brings us no closer to understanding how creation happens in the first place.  Science still, despite all of its good works, has never provided a real answer to how at some point in the universe, nothing became something.  Until they can do this, the debate between religion and science will never end.  On the positive side, we will get to enjoy all of the technological advances that go with it.  Just as long as the collider doesn’t create some new condition on Earth that results in our destruction.