July 8, 2012


The Spark That Caused the Big Bang : There's a reason the newly discovered Higgs boson is called the 'God particle.' It started it all. (MICHIO KAKU, 7/05/12, WSJ)

For the past 50 years, this expensive process of smashing beams of particles has yielded an embarrassingly large zoo of hundreds of subatomic particles, which can be tediously reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle called the Standard Model of particles. More than 20 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to physicists who have pieced together parts of the Standard Model. All the particles of the Standard Model had been found, except the last, central piece of the jigsaw puzzle--the Higgs boson. That is why so much was resting on finding the Higgs particle. (If it had not been found, many physicists, I imagine, would have had a heart attack.)

The press has dubbed the Higgs boson the "God particle," a nickname that makes many physicists cringe. But there is some logic to it. According to the Bible, God set the universe into motion as he proclaimed "Let there be light!" In physics, the universe started off with a cosmic explosion, the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, which sent the stars and galaxies hurtling in all directions. But the key question is left unanswered: Why did it bang? The big-bang theory says nothing about how and why it banged in the first place.

To put it another way, what was the match that set off the initial cosmic explosion? What put the "bang" in the Big Bang? In quantum physics, it was a Higgs-like particle that sparked the cosmic explosion. In other words, everything we see around us, including galaxies, stars, planets and us, owes its existence to the Higgs boson.

Although, the interesting question is what sorts of particles subatomic particles are made of, and what those particles are made of....

Posted by at July 8, 2012 9:23 AM

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