Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"God Particle" Found ("Divined," Actually)

You've probably already seen the headline "God Particle Found" over the last couple of days.  But what does it really mean?

"A half-century scientific quest culminated early Wednesday as physicists announced the discovery of a new subatomic particle — one theorized to be so fundamental that without it, nothing could exist. Dubbed the Higgs boson — or the 'God particle,' to the chagrin of scientists — the particle is thought to create a sort of force field that permeates the universe " begins THIS article in today's Los Angeles Times.

But reading further, it becomes clear that the 6,000 CERN scientists working on the project didn't actually find this new God particle itself, but rather 'divined its existence' from a 'bump in the data.'  "The CERN physicists did not see this new particle directly, because it disintegrates too quickly. Rather, they divined its existence from sifting through the debris of millions of high-energy subatomic collisions and then searching for clues that the Higgs had been there... But by studying these traces, the CERN physicists saw a 'bump' in their data consistent with a Higgs boson."

Maybe its because I'm not a physicist myself that I can't see why this is so different from 6,000 unkempt cryptozoologists 'divining the existence' of Bigfoot from only the plaster casts of huge feet, because the creature is elusive and disappears so quickly.

The timing of this announcement is also suspicious. "With a self-imposed deadline of July 4 — set two years ago to line up with the conference in Melbourne — CERN physicists raced in recent days to collect and analyze enough data to say they had, indeed, found a new particle that looked like the long-sought Higgs."

So scientists have been looking for the Higgs boson since 1964, almost 50 years, and as of yesterday these CERN physicists are finally able to 'divine its existence' from a 'bump in the data' that 'looks like' the Higgs boson, only after 'racing' to meet a deadline specified years in advance?

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