Thursday, 5 July 2012

Higgs And CERN Evict God From Yet Another Gap

Professor Peter Ware Higgs
BBC News - Higgs boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC

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.

Wikipedia - Higgs boson (written before the above announcement)
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.

Professor Joseph Incandela addressing a special conference at CERN
4 July 2012
So, what does this mean for particle physics?
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.

Professor Joe Incandela, University of California at Santa Barbara
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?

This is an important result and should earn Peter Higgs the Nobel prize.

Stephen Hawking
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.





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29 comments :

  1. Want to bet that the 0.00035% chance that the Higgs-Boson has not been found will be seized on by the fundamentalist cabal as proof that "science is wrong"?

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    1. Unfortunately that is what is so sad. They have a minimal to no understanding of science and how it operates. What they fail to see is the fact that in science nothing can be 100 per cent is a great indicator that science is based on objectivity while religion is based on dogma.

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  2. A lot of religious people do acknowledge doubt as ‘part of the journey’ to God. I don't think it's fair to say doubt = heresy.

    I love the last line, though. Good post.

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    1. Dear Mr. or Ms. Anonymous:

      You could not possibly be more wrong. Expressing doubt in any of the churches I attended before I came to my senses would get you ignored at best, ostracized most likely, and it would not be impossible to be lynched in some areas. Based on James 1:8. Religious people, at least of the conservative persuasion, are so fearful that what they think they know will be shown to be wrong that they can't tolerate even the hint of doubt. In my 23 years in the church, "doubt" ranked right up with the very worst of words that could be uttered.

      If you don't believe me, I suggest you pick an evangelical church at random, go into an adult Sunday school class, and make any of the following statements:

      1) I think that Genesis 1 is completely wrong, as demonstrable scientific facts show that the earth and the universe were not created at the same time, nor were all the plants and animals created in a one-week span of time.

      2) I think that we should probably not consider parts of the bible as either being the word of god, or as morally valid, as it condones genocide for religious reasons, slavery, and other immoral practices.

      3) I doubt that Jesus was anything other than an ordinary person of his time, as he appeared to think entirely in a manner consistent with his culture, and his prophecies of his return did not pan out.

      If you're still alive, come back and revisit your statement, "I don't think it's fair to say doubt = heresy."

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  3. You wrote: (that is, with a probability of less then 3.5 in a million of this being due to statistical variance or experimental error).

    statistical variance, yes, but the statistics don't speak to the likelihood of experimental error. They also don't speak to the interpretation of the data.

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    1. >statistical variance, yes, but the statistics don't speak to the likelihood of experimental error.<

      Er... yes they do.

      >They also don't speak to the interpretation of the data.<

      Er... yes they do.

      You don't know anything about this stuff, do you.

      The Higgs boson has been detected with a 99.99965% probability of being a true detection and not a mere chance event. This degree of certainty is well within the normally accepted definition of a scientific truth.

      Another god-gap has been closed. Live with it.

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    2. Dude, I'm not denying the discovery, just trying to explain what researchers (of whom I am one) mean when reporting probabilities like that. Why do you have to be so defensive and insulting?

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    3. Because you were wrong.

      The confidence level includes the probability of the result being due to statistical variation and experimental error. It essentially measures the difference between the result obtained and the result that would have been obtained if the 'null hypothesis' had been correct - i.e. that there was no significant difference.

      The results obtained, according the their analysis, have a 0.000035% probability of being due to statistical or experimental error.

      Interpreting the 'bump' as being due to the Higgs boson is based on the fact that it was at exactly the energy level calculated to be where the Higgs boson would be found. It's the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack and finding a long sharp piece if metal with an eye in it, and then someone claiming that it might not be the needle they were looking for and it might not even be a needle, just something that looks like one.

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  4. Dear author, ideas about higgs boson could be wrong so take it easy and Wait... You have not seen a boson but you believe in it and defend it and you criticize religion?

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  5. So if the higgs bóson is the only truth i AM willing tô receive explanations from the bóson about our Life in Earth and i want tô see how the bóson created universe and Life and if its version is Good i will considere it...

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    1. Good tô know we have Science tô believe in, a not censured and honest Science which has stats and esceptic scientists, so we can all be tranquil,but Science doesnt need Money? Ah That's another Point...

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  6. Science is a bad dogma !!!

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    1. >Science is a bad dogma !!!<

      Say he/she using a computer over the Internet...

      That must be why you never did your science homework then, eh?

      Delete
  7. Tell me how the higgs bóson created the DNA and how it created the man different from a woman and how the bóson created the races. Also tell me why the bóson doesnt do That in front of researchers. Thanks Rosa.

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    1. Why would I do that when no one has ever claimed they (note please that there is more than one) did, and no one who knew the slightest thing about science would even think they might have done.

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    2. Because of the title of your article, because if you want tô say God didnt do it you must have the answer or the bóson in the hand.thanks Rosa.

      Delete
    3. is there a grown up there who can help you understand basic English?

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  8. Can i know how higgs bóson planned universe?

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    Replies
    1. Can I know (sic) why you imagine it did?

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  9. Does cern know how you use their information tô manipulate public opinion on God? Because you do it wrong. You should Focus in other source tô deny God, dont use Cern please.

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  10. If what you say in your article is true, you can not prove it through Science and so Science is limited tô its own methodic borders.

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    1. You haven't actually read and understood what I wrote have you.

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    2. Which is the Gap closed by Science other than the Gap built on their own scientific doubts? Which new Gap other than a new weak and unproved and Private theory?

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    3. Are you alcoholic?

      Delete
  11. So you Also have your own limits in expressing and be understood so you can not expect the higgs particle Express and sustein your own theories just tô prove you are right.

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    Replies
    1. Do you think you'll ever manage to post a comment that makes any sense to normal people?

      Delete
  12. Apply That comment tô your blog because they fit Like a ring in the right finger.

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  13. Science is good, the bad thing about Science are the sceptics who dont let Science be unless they are satisfied. Science is good for Earth as long as Science is open to public scrutinity and to public debate against sceptic people from Science who dont believe even in Science and in this way stop new discoveries. Old Science has the risk to become too a religion.

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  14. "What Christian or Muslim would ever make a testable, and so falsifiable, prediction based on their god hypothesis"

    One that does not understand that using the scientific method as a methodology is only really appropriate in the natural sciences.

    The god hypothesis? This fails the verification principle. The same principle that does not satisfy its own stipulation of verification.

    Yes - science has its absurdities and one of these is the repeated calls for God to be subject to the scientific method. This is epistemologically naive and is of little value.

    ReplyDelete

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