Written by: Joe Sciabica
On December 13 at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, two research teams found evidence that indicates that the Higgs Boson particle does exist. The Higgs Boson, also known as the God particle, is one of the last parts of the puzzle that is the Standard Model of physics. Currently, there is a theoretical equation of physics that explains most of the forces in the universe which is illustrated by various subatomic particles more elementary than protons and neutrons. Discovering the existence of the Higgs Boson would complete the theory and prove to be a correct model of reality.
However, as its name suggest, the God particle has yet to be conclusively discovered. The Higgs Boson cannot be directly seen, but its path can be observed to tell if it is the Higgs Boson acting. The two research teams, independent of each other’s results, both found similar evidence that leads them closer to looking where the Higgs Boson can be found. However, the physicists admit that some skepticism is healthy as the results could have just been statistical fluctuations.
Experiments will resume in March of 2012 and most scientists are sure that a conclusive answers will be found, whether the particle exists or not. If the Higgs Boson is stated to not exist, then the Standard Model will have to be redone.
Although a useful name to market the particle, the use of “God” to describe the particle is misleading, according to the scientific community. The term was first coined in a book title to describe the elusive nature of the particle and the surrounding belief of the particle but lack of direct evidence. The existence of the particle would also explain why the other elementary particles have mass, in essence giving them existence and being God-like.
Lastly, the Higgs Boson is more accurately thought of as a medium through which other matter exists, again as if existence depends on it. Scientists believe that the term God overestimates the importance of this particle, since it is just a part of the overall theory that would describe reality, supporting other ideas such as the Big Bang Theory and Super String Theory.
As with all other scientific theories, the God particle’s existence cannot answer theological or supernatural questions and therefore having little to do with an actual deity. It is hard to see any practical implications from these experiments that would serve the general public. In the meantime, confirmation of the Higgs Boson would be celebrated by scientists, philosophers and enthusiasts as a triumph of theoretical physics and lay the groundwork for continued research and new questions which have not even yet been asked.