|Professor Peter Ware Higgs|
It's been the worst kept secret for several days now that the team using the LHC at CERN have found something significant in their search for the Higgs boson - the so-called 'God particle'. In typical scientifically caution language they have found a 'bump' in their data which corresponds to a particle of 125.3 GeV, in other words, just where the Higgs boson was predicted to be, with a confidence "at the 5 sigma point" (that is, with a probability of less then 3.5 in a million of this being due to statistical variance or experimental error).
This is science-speak for saying they are 99.99965% sure they have seen a Higgs boson, which is just about as close as science ever gets to proving anything. Professor Stephen Hawking, who had disputed the existence of the Higgs boson, has conceded that he has lost a $100 bet that the particle would not be found at CERN.
This effectively completes the Standard Model of particle physics because the Higgs field, composed of Higgs bosons, explains why other particles have mass.
Technically, it is the quantum excitation of the Higgs field, and the non-zero value of the ground state of this field gives mass to the other elementary particles such as quarks and electrons through the Higgs mechanism. The Standard Model completely fixes the properties of the Higgs boson, except for its mass. It is expected to have no spin and no electric or color charge, and it interacts with other particles through the weak interaction and Yukawa-type interactions between the various fermions and the Higgs field.The Higgs particle is name after Peter Ware Higgs the British theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who, in 1964, along with others, predicted the existence of this super-massive particle. Higgs is an atheist and dislikes the term "God particle" because "It might offend religious people". That term is attributed to Richard Lederman [correction: Leon M Lederman] from the title of his 1993 book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?. However, this may have been at the insistence of his publishers, Dell Publishing, who objected to his original title "The Goddamn Particle". Higgs was a member of CND until they moved to campaign against nuclear power as well as nuclear weapons. He also resigned from Greenpeace because of their opposition to GM.
Wikipedia - Higgs boson (written before the above announcement)
|Professor Joseph Incandela addressing a special conference at CERN|
4 July 2012
We're reaching into the fabric of the Universe at a level we've never done before. We've kind of completed one particle's story. ... Now we're way out on the edge of a new exploration. This could be the only part of the story that's left, or we could open a whole new realm of discovery.But, of course like every other piece of scientific 'knowledge' no serious scientist would claim ever to have proved the Higgs boson beyond any possible doubt. Note how the level of confidence was expressed as the probability of being wrong. Contrast this with religion, where any shadow of doubt is regarded as heresy and none can ever be admitted for fear that the entire edifice will collapse. People have been killed for expressing doubt. What Christian or Muslim would try to put a probability on there not being a god other than zero?
Professor Joe Incandela, University of California at Santa Barbara
This is an important result and should earn Peter Higgs the Nobel prize.Note too how this discovery almost certainly validates a prediction of theoretical physics made 48 years ago. This illustrates the nature of science and how a theory is used to make predictions which are then experimentally tested or measurements and observations are made which either confirm or falsify the theory. And of course, either result would be equally good science. A falsified theory will need to be revised or scrapped. A validated theory can be used as a platform on which to stand and build new theories which can be tested in turn. And so science progresses, building on the discoveries of the past to investigate new areas or to understand better where our understanding is incomplete.
What Christian or Muslim would ever make a testable, and so falsifiable, prediction based on their god hypothesis? Indeed, how could such a hypothesis ever be falsified when it is so carefully constructed and hedged around with definitions intended to make it unfalsifiable?
As Joe Incandela said, "...we could open a whole new realm of discovery". For science, the end of one journey is just the beginning of another. Having broken through the Higgs boson barrier, We can now go on to explore the fabric of reality.
Another gap has been closed by science, and, once again, no god was found and none proved to be necessary. This is the great thing about knowing you could be wrong - you set out to find out if you are, or not, and so you find new things to discover and realise there is more you do not know. Religions, by claiming to know all the answers and by being too afraid to question even that assumption, have remained stuck in the Bronze Age, from a time before science invented the wheel, and they have never produced a single discovery which was of the slightest use to mankind.
But then, if religions had any evidence, like science there would only be one, and it would also be science.