As Physicists Near Discovery of God Particle, A Word With SMU Prof Involved In the Search

Categories: Science

godparticle.jpg
Via.
You've probably heard that an international contingent of physicists in Switzerland is this close to identifying the Higgs boson, aka the "God particle."

Currently, the Higgs is the theoretical mechanism that explains how matter obtained mass following the Big Bang. The theory is that it imbued the basic building blocks of the stars and planets and everything else with mass and, thus, gravity, so that the swirling particles thrown forth in that great cataclysm of creation eventually settled down and coalesced, making life possible.

The Higgs is the last undiscovered piece in the Standard Model of Physics, which describes "the basic building blocks of matter and their interactions." Proving or disproving the existence of the Higgs would do no less than aid in the explanation of gravity, the evolution of the universe and the Big Bang, which they're trying to recreate on a small scale in the Large Hadron Collider.

"To me, it's like being a member of the Mayflower," says Ryszard Stroynowski, an SMU physics professor.

Along with other faculty and graduate students from Southern Methodist University, he's part of the international search for the Higgs -- a sort of study-abroad program with galactic implications.

Unfair Park put in a call to Stroynowski, who's leading the SMU team. Since 1994, he and other physicists have been involved in the development and construction of a device that can detect the fragments created by collisions of protons in the particle accelerator -- and the accompanying electrons and photons, potentially the measurable hallmarks of the Higgs.

On Tuesday, the Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they'd narrowed the search down to a small range of masses. They're close, maybe a year away, Stroynowski says, from finding it.

To be at the cusp of this discovery, for SMU students, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"It's not very often a student has a chance to participate in a huge international effort at the very frontier of science," he says. "We estimate that if we collect data for another year, we'll definitely be able to claim a discovery or exclude [the Higgs] completely.

"We haven't had an opportunity of this magnitude for 25 to 30 years, so it's perfect timing for some graduate students."

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Dnews2007
Dnews2007

And if they don't, can we finally stop going wild with the field of "theoretical physics?"

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

"Going wild"?  How do you define that?  What's wrong with theoretical physics?

scottindallas
scottindallas

bI'm still unclear how this explains the Big Bang.  The Big Bang has a substantial problem that the Greeks understood, the problem of creation ex nihlo, something from nothing.  What explains the exponential growth and expansion since the big bang?  There is no way we can conceive that the total sum of all the mass in the universe issues from this one point at time point zero. 

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

If the Higgs boson can be isolated, the Standard Model will be nearly completely verified.  Determining the source of mass will mean that the particle content of the early universe can be determined, and interactions at higher energies will be much more well-modeled.  Our understanding of matter and how particles interact will become stronger, meaning we might be able to gain more knowledge of the inner workings of that least-understood force, gravity. 

The question of what came before the Big Bang may never be answered.  It deals with a realm of physics that is so far divorced from what we can observe that we may not even be able to create the concepts to understand it.  Our minds might not even be able to comprehend the realities of that reality, if it can even be considered reality. 

To the author:  Brantley, on behalf of scientists everywhere, please stop referring to the Higgs boson as the "God Particle".  I realize that the title comes from Lederman's book, but he meant it at least partially as a joke, and no one in the scientific community uses it un-ironically.

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

DoubleOJoe, I fully realize physicists think the name is vulgar and inaccurate. I happen to agree. But cut me a little slack. "Higgs boson" doesn't make for much of a headline. Who, other than physicists and the scientifically inclined, would read on?

aslyn
aslyn

What if you're not?

scallywag
scallywag

Either way one can suppose this week's events will engender the belief in God or repudiate it, which is the great irony of science, as much as it seeks to dispel the notion of supernatural forces at work it ultimately forces one to wonder if that is ultimately what is at work, thus bringing science and the idea of God closer together as much as science may wish to dispense with it.

http://scallywagandvagabond.co...

Dallas Dysfunction
Dallas Dysfunction

"They're close, maybe a year away, Stroynowski says, from finding it"

.... and the Mayan Calendar ends around that same time... coincidence? mwuahahahahaha

Heywood U buzzoff
Heywood U buzzoff

Sadly three years from now we will be up t our asses in Higgs boson particles -- itchy, sticky Higgs boson particles that smell like DART buses at rush hour and keep chanting 'get off MY lawn'.  Oh yeah, the physicists want to find these particles but do not plan what happens when suddenly they have oodles of the little bastards clogging up bike lanes and Calatrava bridges.And if they really find this particle, so many physicists will suddenly be out of work since there will nothing else to find except for a new flavor for Fritos or a George Forman grill that works vertically. 

Gabe
Gabe

Occupy CERN? 1% of space has 99% of the matter?

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...