Video Link: What is the Higgs Boson?
(Quoted from the Guardian) There comes a time in a scientist’s life when the weight of evidence can no longer be ignored. That moment came today for physicists at Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, who announced overwhelming evidence for the obscure but profoundly important Higgs boson, the particle that sparked the greatest hunt in modern science.
In presentations given to a packed auditorium at the laboratory on Wednesday morning, and webcast around the world, the leaders of two research teams, who worked independently of each other, said they had spotted a new particle amid the microscopic flashes of primordial fire created inside the world’s most powerful atom smasher.
Cern stopped short of claiming official discovery of the Higgs boson, even as many physicists conceded the evidence was now so compelling they had surely found the missing particle.
Formal confirmation of the discovery is expected within months, though it could take several years for scientists to work out whether they have found the simplest kind of Higgs particle that theories predict, or part of a more complex picture: for example, one of a larger family of Higgs bosons. The discovery of more than one kind of Higgs particle would open the door to an entirely new realm of physics.
Note from me: As always, once again, Science has shown how it is done. The cautious careful inch by inch advance of scientific enquiry – the vetting and checking and peer review of all data. The ‘openness’ of the scientific method that allows everybody to partake and submit an opinion. That is why the scientific method is the way to go. Not the ignorance of theology that promises answers in damp old religious texts from the Bronze ages. This is another bash on the head for those that claim religion or philosophy have something to tell us about the physical reality we live in. They may have much to say on how to live – but when it comes to questions of physical reality – how things are – they are woefully ignorant.
Science works as follows. I must explain this because far too many people are ignorant of its simple workings.
A scientist makes an observation. To explain that observation he comes up with a Hypothesis. The hypothesis is further tested by further experiments by himself and others and the hypothesis is refined or even expunged. The hypothesis – once it is supported by the considerable weight of independent evidence, then becomes a theory. A theory could be false, it could be refuted – but that is unlikely because it is supported by hundreds of thousands of interlocking pieces of evidence. Einsteins theory of General Relativity is a theory…Evolution is a theory. But the definition of what a ‘theory’ is for scientists is different to what the lay public thinks. For scientists a theory is something that is more or less true. The probability of evidence arising that will sink the theory is exceedingly low – improbably so.
Science is not about what you believe or your personal convictions. Yes, scientists are human beings and they are prey to the same weaknesses inherent in us all – but the severe vetting of academic research papers by the scientific community, the checking of every piece of data, the open ended enquiry, the rigorous debating and the cut-throat world of elimination, ensures that only the most robust and accurate theories survive.
The Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking wrote in his last book that ‘philosophy is dead’. What he meant was that when it comes to understanding the universe we live in, philosophy and theology are old dinosaurs. They have NOTHING to tell us about the physical reality world we live in. Only the cautious, pernickety, wise old man of science – advancing stately forward on his walking stick – points in the right direction. Showing the way. Lighting the darkness. With his childlike curiosity…