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Jul 04 2012

Fourth of July is Higgs Boson Day

When I went online to learn about Higgs Boson from CERN’s Live seminar today, I found it difficult to understand. I wanted to get a CERN version for children or a CERN version for dummies but I was unable. However, I got a fairly easy explanation . After an hour or two I got the easiest explanation of Higgs Boson one that a seven-year-old kid would understand. Some people asked me whether I was able to find a version that would explain Higgs Boson to a three-year-old, but wouldn’t that be dumbed down for the yet-to-be-born?

Although I still do not pretend to understand the language of particle physics, I see that the origin of the universe might be connected. After the Big Bang Theory made a historic leap forward with the discovery of a subatomic particle, the present search that has lasted almost 50 years is indicating that there was no god behind the universe’s creation.

Galileo killed god. Darwin also killed god. But ignorant people did not stop worshiping it. CERN physicists killed the dead god again today. Poor putrefied god! How many hundreds of times god needs to be killed before creationists admit that god is dead?

Richard Dawkins once said, ‘Darwinism kicked God out of biology but physics remained more uncertain’. But physics is not anymore uncertain.

Some media and men are dancing thinking that ‘god particle’ has something to do with god. This is so annoying. I request scientists not to use the word ‘god’ as a metaphor anymore. Creationists use this metaphor for their irrational ‘god exists’ propaganda.

It’s 4th of July. For the first time ever, I have not celebrated 4th of July as American Independence Day. I celebrated today as Higgs Boson Day. I will celebrate 4th of July every year as Higgs Boson Day.

29 comments

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  1. 1
    josh

    well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it is a Higg’s “like” Boson. There still needs to be more research done to see if there are not other such particles. What is interesting is that the Higg’s is exactly the kind of particle that is needed to create the universe due to the fact that it doesn’t have spin.

  2. 2
    ned champlain

    This is just a tiny step, there are many questions yet to be aswered. I marvel at needing more answers.
    Be assured that the person who said “god” particle wishes he never had. Creationist put their god in a box and the box is continuing to shrink.

  3. 3
    asms anam

    “A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring:
    There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.”

    Alexander Pope,1688-1744.

  4. 4
    tony goddard

    A cat knows how to catch a mouse. Patience, Watchfulness, Awareness of the environment etc. Much boredom before the kill. It’s quite likely that less than ten thousand people in the world know enough tensor algebra and group theory to understand the symmetry breaking stuff that lead to the hypothesis of the Higgs boson. Go back to the 1920s and you can learn how Dirac postulated the positron, several years before its discovery. Go back even earlier and you find Satyendra Bose, questioned 19th century statistical treatment of gas kinetics and got listened to by Einstein.
    All of this came from students questioning the equations of the teachers.
    Individual understanding of these physics exotica requires immense amounts of study just to master the mathematics. Many of the questions at the CERN
    press conference came from professional journos, but the sort that are ready to admit their own weakness. An event like this is something to celebrate.

    1. 4.1
      Taslima Nasreen

      The term ‘boson’ owes its name to the pioneering work of the Bengali physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose, a contemporary of the German physicist Albert Einstein. As a Bengali I am proud of Bose.

      1. asms anam

        Then the day should be celebrated as “Bose Boson Day”.
        Both you and Tony Goddard deserve thanks for mentioning the name of the famous Bengali scientist and teacher Satyendra Nath Bose who pioneered the work.Being a past student of the University of Dhaka where Bose taught students Physics,I feel proud of myself.Unfortunately,no one mentioned Bose’s name for once while presenting the findings at the”CERN” seminar on the 4th day of July,2012.Can any one,including you, tell me why Bose”s pioneering work was not recognized or even mentioned while the findings were being presented at the seminar?

        1. Taru Dutt

          “Can any one,including you, tell me why Bose’s pioneering work was not recognized or even mentioned while the findings were being presented at the seminar?”

          Good question. Mention a lowly non-white when there are white people to be mentioned? Now why would one do that? In the Western press, when the story of the first ascent of Everest is told, Tenzing Norgay’s name is mentioned as a distant, unimportant, marginal, worthless second. As that of someone not really worth mentioning. When it is mentioned at all. This is the story of white mentions of non-white “others.” This is the story of non-whites in the history written by the victors. Let us fall at the altar of whiteness and cry out in worship… oh, noble, exalted whiteness, the only colour, God’s own colour, grant us but a mention and we will lick your feet in gratitude!

          1. asms anam

            Thanks for your response.Albert Einstein himself recognized the works of S N Bose.He was a white man.Was he not? Sorry to mention that your suggestion to ‘fall at the altar of whiteness…etc etc’
            can not rather must not be followed.Taslima Nasreen herself has requested the Nobel Committee in a recent tweet to consider awarding the “prize in Physics” to Peter Higgs this year.She has also failed to include Bose’s name in her recommendation!What should you say about it?Is it not strange or has she overlooked Bose’s pioneering works which has surely helped Higgs’s team to identify the particle?

          2. Taru Dutt

            Exceptions do not detract from the rule, the norm. Taslima has clearly mentioned Bose’s name here, and her pride in his achievement. Please take note of the pattern, not of isolated instances. As for my suggestion to worship at the altar of whiteness, it’s called “sarcasm” – it’s in the dictionary. Look it up. If you are not aware of the established pattern of exclusion and marginalization of the accomplishments of non-white people in white discourse, then you’re either in denial or naive. Neither of which I can help you with. If it makes you feel more comfortable to deny patterns of racism, by all means continue doing so. Many do. You’re not alone. It’s often easier to deny injustice than to call it out, to face it. A large number of us choose the path of denial, thus enabling the injustice to continue.

  5. 5
    Heavier_than_thou

    The person who said “god” particle was, apparently, persuaded to by his publisher, he wanted to call it the “goddamn particle”. Peter Higgs views on “God Particle” are worth noting.

    I am surrounded by physicists, and anybody mentioning the words “god” and “particle” in the same sentence will produce a chorus of groans.

  6. 6
    lpetrich

    A boson is a particle with an integer spin. Its opposite is a fermion, a particle with a half-odd spin. Spin = built-in angular momentum. It’s connected with a particle’s geometrical properties. Spin 0 means that each little bit of it looks the same from all directions.

    There’s a familiar elementary particle that’s a boson: the photon. What one of my physics teachers had called a blob of light. It has spin 1, because it has a direction attached for it, its polarization.

    There’s another familiar one that’s a fermion: the electron. It has spin 1/2.

    -

    Elementary particles have both particle and wave properties: wave-particle duality. It’s very very weird, but it’s been abundantly tested. We don’t see very much macroscopic wave-particle duality; just about everything macroscopic is either particlelike or wavelike. But on atomic scales and smaller, there are oodles of evidence of it.

    There’s something called the “spin-statistics theorem” that connects the particles’ spins with how many individual particles can occupy a quantum state. For a boson, any number of particles can occupy a state, while for a fermion, at most one particle can occupy a state.

    -

    What Satyendra Nath Bose did was to work out how a gas of bosons in thermal equilibrium would be distributed. He sent a paper on the subject to Albert Einstein (yes, that famous one), and Einstein translated it into German and got it published.

    An interesting consequence of Bose-Einstein statistics is the “Bose–Einstein condensate”. When very cold, bosons can collect in their lowest quantum state, making a collection that can be very large by atomic standards. It’s been observed as superfluids and superconductivity, and even in gases of materials like lithium and rubidium.

    1. 6.1
      Taslima Nasreen

      Thanks for the explanation.

  7. 7
    Michael Busch

    Taslima,

    A clarification on Bose’s work: he developed the basic theory of all bosons (as lpetrich described). However, he was not involved at all in the development of theory of the Higgs mechanism to explain why all particles have mass, and the consequent prediction of the existence of the Higgs boson. Peter Higgs and others developed that theory in the 1960s, well after Bose’s retirement in 1956.

    Bose would certainly have merited a Nobel prize for his work, but did not receive one in his lifetime. The Nobel cannot be awarded posthumously, unfortunately. Bose did get the Padma Vibhushan, though.

    Decisions as to who gets the Nobel are of course political, but Indian, Bengali, and Pakistani scientists have not been excluded. Raman received the 1930 Physics prize for his work on how light interacts with matter, and his nephew Chandrasekhar got the 1983 prize for his seminal work on the structure of stars. Salam received a portion of the 1979 prize for his work on electroweak unification in the early 1960s, which connects directly to Higg’s work. Since I’m a planetary astronomer and not a high-energy physicist, I can explain Raman’s and Chandra’s work far more easily than I can explain Salam’s or Higg’s. But they all require Bose-Einstein statistics – bosons all have some similar properties.

    Re. the “god particle” branding – Leon Lederman, whose popularization of projects to search for the Higgs boson spawned the nickname, was quite disappointed that it caught on. He did say that he’d have preferred the name “the goddamn particle”.

    1. 7.1
      lpetrich

      I don’t pretend to be an expert on the politics of Nobel Prize awards. Some of its science awards do get a bit odd, like not awarding Nicola Cabibbo a Nobel Prize along with Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa for working out weak-interaction quark mixing. There’s also the question of who’s worthy of an award in the discovery of the Higgs particle. The Nobel Committee will have to agonize a lot about which three people to honor out of the numerous people who worked on this particle.

      Bose-Einstein condensation appears in superfluids, an odd state that liquid helium can get into. It has no viscosity, and it can crawl across container surfaces.

      Helium-4 atoms are bosons: 2 electrons, 2 protons, 2 neutrons. They become superfluid at 2.1 K (very cold!), collecting into the same wavefunction, one that’s macroscopic-sized.

      Helium-3 are fermions: 1 neutron instead of 2. But they form loose pairings, and those are bosons. Those pairings can get correlated and Bose-Einstein condensed, making helium-3 a superfluid at 0.0025 K (even colder!).

      Many metals become superconductors at low temperatures, usually at a few K, liquid-helium temperatures. Their conduction interactions form loose pairs (“Cooper pairs”) that Bose-Einstein condense, making zero electrical resistance. It’s been used to make electromagnets with very strong fields, like MRI magnets and magnets in particle accelerators like the LHC.

  8. 8
    asms anam

    @Taru Dutt.No need to consult a dictionary to understand the meaning of the word “sarcasm”. Your suggestion is not sarcastic at all.To me,it is nothing but an example of total submission to injustice.One must learn to call a spade a spade.Taslima does it always.Many like you fail to do so.
    As I don’t believe in generalization,the name of Einstein was mentioned.It had nothing to do with what you have very wrongly mentioned.The established pattern of exclusion and marginalization is practiced by all–both whites and non whites.
    As regards to Taslima’s failure to include the name of Bose in her recommendation,I feel that the exclusion may be the result of an oversight.Only Nasreen can clarify the matter if she wishes.

    1. 8.1
      Bob Evans

      ‘ang on a minute! It was “white men” scientists who named this type of particle a boson after the “coloured” Bhose. What does that make THEM? Anti-racists? I write regularly about CERN and was there on H-Day. The place is crawling (perhaps I shouldn’t use that word in case it is misunderstood) with scientists and students of all nationalities and colours. Indians, or people of sub-continental origin, as well as ethnic Chinese hold jobs across the organisation. Yet at the press conference, for which reporters and TV teams came in from all over Europe and North America, there wasn’t a sign of a sub-continental Asian journalist. (The BBC’s Science Correspondent Palab Ghosh wasn’t there this time, as he was last December.) The Russians have a saying: No-one is a prophet in his own country. Perhaps the sub-continental media should pay a little more attention to what their own physicists are doing, i.e. working with those of other nations to advance the knowledge of humankind. I don’t hear any talk of “colours” around them. But of course if you want to look for offence and prejudice, you can always find it.

      PS: and just FYI, CERN DG Rolf Heuer has launched a programme to get more scientists and post-graduates from the Middle East and Africa involved in research here, and to provide outreach to colleges and universities across those regions to interest schoolchildren in particle physics. I don’t suppose that, however, is likely to meet with the approval of the clerics of all religions who have such a grip on the minds of the kids. And I suppose that, if you really wanted to, you could label it as “racial condescension.”

      1. asms anam

        The name is Bose–not Bhose.And Bose was not a coloured or a person of mixed origin.He was a pure Bengali.You may study the background of the word “coloured’ and refrain yourself from using the word to describe a person who is not a White.To do so is nothing but labeling a human being wrongly as done by the then apartheid government of South Africa.May I ask you why the name of Bose was not uttered even for once while presenting the findings on H-Day by the CERN presenter?Meanwhile,be rest assured that the question has nothing to do with racism or any such thing.I consider myself a human being first and then a proud Bengali.Thanks.

        1. Phillip Helbig

          While “coloured” was used in South Africa to mean people of mixed racial descent, in some other countries it means just “not white”.

          “May I ask you why the name of Bose was not uttered even for once while presenting the findings on H-Day by the CERN presenter?”

          All particles are either bosons (named after Bose) or fermions (named after Fermi). Why wasn’t he mentioned? Because his work had little, if anything, to do with the discovery. (If one mentioned him, one would have had to mention thousands of others as well.) Magnets are crucial to the LHC; was Faraday mentioned? Electromagnetic waves are crucial; was Maxwell mentioned? Equivalence of energy and mass are crucial. Was Einstein mentioned. There is absolutely no indication that not mentioning Bose was some sort of racial slur.

          1. asms anam

            You have tried to over simplify the matter.The term “coloured”refers to an heterogeneous ethnic group who possess ancestry from Europe.The South African Government,in the apartheid era,used the term “Coloured” to describe one of the four racial groups(Blacks,Whites,Coloureds and Indians) identified by law in order to keep divisions and maintain a race focused society.It has nothing to do with the colour of the skin.Therefore,it is not right to find a new meaning of the term.
            In the sub-continent,people possessing European (specially,British)ancestry are known as “Anglo Indian”– not coloured or not white.
            We know that particles are either Boson or fermions.The issue is not about the types of particles.Sorry,can not agree with your explanations.I strongly believe that the pioneering works of all,leading to scientific discoveries at a later date by some one or a group,must be recognized without any reservation.
            The view has nothing to do with race or colour of skin of Bose or any one else.

          2. Phillip Helbig

            “I strongly believe that the pioneering works of all,leading to scientific discoveries at a later date by some one or a group,must be recognized without any reservation.”

            In that case, the press conference would have taken days.

  9. 9
    asms anam

    Taslima Nasreen,
    Dag Hammarskjold was awarded Nobel Prize in 1961 posthumously.Erik Axel Karlfeldt is another who was also awarded Nobel posthumously.However,the statutes of the Nobel Foundation now stipulate(since 1974)that a prize can not be awarded posthumously unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize.The Nobel Foundation may- rather should consider to restore the deleted statute in order to rendering justices to those who were deserving but overlooked in the past.Thanks.

  10. 10
    Sampan Chakraborty

    Basically Satyendra Bose became famous when Bose Einstein condensate won Nobel in 2001 which is one of the greatest discovery in Physics.And so far 12 persons have won Nobel related to Bose-Einstein statistics and BEC but Bose was never nominated for that award during his life time.

    Also to mention that Boson particle was named by English Physicist Paul Dirac,not Einstein.There are other things named after Satyendra Bose such as Bose gas-a quantum equivalent of Boyle’s gas.

    And the only scientific word from South Asia which has been included in science dictionary is also Boson-But at this may I reminder another genius Bose,i.e Sir JC Bose-one of the greatest inventor of all time and a pioneer in modern plant Biology-He was also a Bengali and was mentor of Satyendra Bose at Calcutta university.

  11. 11
    Warren

    Greatly enjoyed reading about Higgs. The story keeps expanding by day. What fun it is to look for truths, not Truth.

  12. 12
    Bob Evans

    Having just come across an article reporting a storm of displeasure in the Indian press over the fact that Satyendra Bose (apologies for the earlier misspelling, what we journalists call a simple literal) was not mentioned by name at the CERN press conference on July 4, I have somewhat belatedly understood why all the indignation in this correspondence. The article (by the Delhi correspondent of the AP news agency) noted that the Indian media were referring to the distinguished particle physicist as Indian but it also quoted at least two of the more thoughtful newspapers as suggesting that the uproar was somewhat ridiculous and illustrative only of a certain type of psychological complex. Why wasn’t Bose mentioned at CERN last week. I think Philip Helbig has answered that question totally adequately above. Einstein wasn’t mentioned (to the best of my recall) either. Bose has however been identified on the CERN website for many years as the man whose name was given to one category of force-carrying bosons. The attached article from CERN’s Alice experiment indicates that at least one Bose has been very present at the research centre in recent days. Perhaps it will help calm passions. http://alicematters.web.cern.ch/shree_bose

    1. 12.1
      lpetrich

      This controversy reminds me of what Albert Einstein stated in 1919:

      By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, to-day in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be regarded as a bête noire the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English!

      1. Phillip Helbig

        Is this an exact quote? Do you have a source? I remember this version (paraphrased), with two differences:

        If relativity turns out to be true, Germany will say I am German and France will say I am a citizen of the world. If it turns out to be false, France will say I am German and Germany will say I am a Swiss Jew.

        Of course, he could have said both.

  13. 13
    asms anam

    The birds of same feather flock together.In this case,two more words can be added after the word flock in order to make the English proverb more meaningful.
    “The birds of same feather flock and sing together.”
    One may also mention an age old sayings often used in the South Asian Countries which can be translated in English as under:

    “The Jackals communicate the same message when they howl together!”

  14. 14
    asms anam

    @Phillip Helbig. Absolutely not.The press conference would not have taken days.You and Bob Evans may think so.Both of you have taken the same line.You are entitled to your views which should no doubt be respected by others who absolutely disagree with your views.

  15. 15
    Mina Hauser

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