The whole Higgs Boson thing is really interesting. Not only was is not discovered over the last several months, but in a way that makes it certain that it exists, but for other reasons as well. Higgs himself predicted its existence a very long time ago and was told by the greats that it really can’t exist, so he should be a model for all those people with Theories … like “they didn’t believe Higgs either, so I must be right!” … but instead the usual suspects have lined up (at least in the spam section of my blogs) to tell us how the Higgs Particle itself is a conspiracy.
Another thing is this whole wave-particle duality shtick. The Higgs is a wobbly gobbly everywherish gooblygop, for sure, but even though it is everywhere and affects everything, a tiny bit of it has to be ripped from the space-time continuum and turned into a piece of cosmic lint before we can “see” it, and even then we can’t really “see” it very well.
Also, I’m trying to remember what the social and cultural reaction were to the earlier discoveries of various particles. The term “smashing the atom” seems to have come from some of this early work. Most of what I remember of the earliest particles being discovered was conveyed to me after the fact reading Azimov’s Intelligent Mans Guide To the Physical Science, which I believe is no longer in print.
Were earlier discovered similar in their social and cultural effects or different? Anybody remember?
By the time that book was written in 1964, about twenty “particles” or wavy goobldy gobbly things (like “heat rays”) had been discovered. Since then, about a dozen. Here I note that the Higgs Boson is undiscoverable by Wikipedia. The “Timeline of Particle Discoveries” entry does not list the Higgs…doesn’t use the word Higgs on the list (though it is in the intro and elsewhere). Apparently, what happened yesterday was an unverified report of an excited neutral X-b baryon
Which leads us to the question of whether or not it was actually discovered. The New York Times says it was found: “Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe” … but was it really? What really happened, according to that report, was a bit more dramatic while at the same time being very subtle indeed:
Like Omar Sharif materializing out of the shimmering desert as a man on a camel in “Lawrence of Arabia,” the elusive boson has been coming slowly into view since last winter, as the first signals of its existence grew until they practically jumped off the chart.
And the top quark himself clarifies in case you were wondering if they really found it or not:
“I think we have it,” said Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director general of CERN .. He and others said that it was too soon to know for sure…For now, some physicists are simply calling it a “Higgslike” particle
OK, whatever. What if its not “Higgs” but rather “Higgslike” in every possible respect? What do we do then?