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Will Finding 'The God Particle' Take Us Closer to God?

By Brant David McLaughlin     Apr 10, 2008 in Science
"For the vast majority of people, even in advanced societies, technology only need be a little sophisticated to be indistinguishable from magic."
Dr. Peter Higgs says that calling “his” boson The God Particle is not only embarrassing to him, but potentially offensive to some.
“It’s a misuse of terminology,” says Higgs.
Scientists who are searching for thus far elusive sub-atomic particle believe it could very well explain why everything in the known universe is as it is, instead of having never materialized in the first place.
Due to its potential to be able to reveal the Secret of Everything That Is, this particle is being called by some The God Particle.
44 years ago, using mathematical equations, Higgs, who is an avowed atheist, conceptualized the Higgs Particle, or the boson named after him, as a theorized carrier of an all-pervading fundamental field, appropriately called the Higgs Field, which is supposed to act as the universe's means of endowing mass on some elementary particles through its interactions with them. Higgs introduced it into theoretical astrophysics equations to explain why the carriers of the weak force are heavy, while the carrier of the electromagnetic force has a mass of zero.
Bosons are sub-atomic particles that are the “carriers” of a force. A photon is a boson. Bosons also have the quality of being able to occupy the same quantum state at the same time as any other boson that has the same energy.
So while you, dear reader, cannot be in two places at once (arguably), bosons can. And the Higgs boson is believed by many physicists to be that which allows matter to have any mass.
Higgs is pretty confident that his bosons will be found by a new CERN particle physics lab called the Large Hadron Collider being 100 meters below the French-Swiss border. It will be the largest magnetic particle collider-detector ever constructed, and its purpose is to experimentally verify the existence of, among other sub-atomic particles, the Higgs boson.
Higgs, who is now 78, says that he would be quite surprised if the Higgs boson is not detected and verified before he turns 80.
Part of the great elusiveness of the Higgs particle is the fact that it's beyond unstable: It will last less than a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second before decaying into a spray of other particles.
Higgs’ concern over the insistence on calling his particle The God Particle may already be showing itself to be sensible.
"For the vast majority of people, even in advanced societies, technology only need be a little sophisticated to be indistinguishable from magic. I know, in theory, that the predictions of quantum electrodynamics predict the workings of the universe to an unimaginable degree of precision but they don't predict anything to me because I can't do the maths," writes journalist Andrew Brown on the latest and greatest experiments that CERN will perform.
Brown concludes that the universe is too amazing to have mere human beings unlock its ultimate secrets, and he concludes that discovering the Higgs Particle won't bring mankind any closer to God.
No matter the outcome, the tension between the two high priesthoods--that of science and that of religion--is likely to escalate in the wake of the smashing of the particles.
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