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by piero scaruffi | More news and opinions

The Higgs Universe

In july 2012 CERN announced the discovery of a particle that looks and feels like the Higgs Boson. This could be a historical moment.

The world is in motion. All the particles that make up the world were zooming at the speed of light with zero mass indistinguishable one from the other. Then they hit the Higgs Field, which acts like some sort of gluey molasses. The particles slow down, and they acquire mass. As they travel through the Higgs Field, the identity of the particles is revealed: electrons, quarks, etc. And the world as we know it (what we call "matter") begins to exist. This world lasts for as long as the particles travel through the Higgs Field. When they exit the Higgs Field, the particles will resume their journey at the speed of light, with zero mass and no identity. Until they hit another field of some other kind.

If (if) we really found it, the Higgs Field causes a conceptual revolution like with Newton (the universe is deterministic), Einstein (everything is relative), Heisenberg (there is a limit to human knowledge), VonNeumann (the observer determines reality) and Hubble (the universe is expanding hence not static). Now we are faced with a universe which is just a piece of a bigger unknown: you have this world (from particles to galaxies) when you are in a Higgs field, but what do you have when you are not in a Higgs field? what other kinds of "reality-creating" fields are out there? Is it possible that some of them overlap and we only perceive the one that created matter like us? (Of course, we live in the hyper-utilitarian age, and this is not very useful in practice, but still breathtaking when you look at the stars. And it is refreshing that somewhere people can still do big science and come up with big ideas in an age in which most technology is about the latest smartphone and the latest app).

The problem after the Higgs Boson is that in theory (being a recursive process of mass being created by interaction with mass-giving particles) its field should create infinite mass: so where does the extra mass go? See for example: this article.

This "discovery" is also a reminder to the rest of the world that they still have a long way to go before they catch up with Western science: their top scientists work in Western laboratories, not viceversa, and the groundbreaking theories are still coming from Western laboratories. China and India may be catching up in sheer economic output, but they still lag far, far behind in scientific progress.

Finally, there is something noble and epic about the whole process of establishing scientific truth that is probably worth more than the discovery itself.


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