Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Higgs Boson

'One of the biggest scientific discoveries of all time' said Prof Brian Cox while another described it as comparable with the moon landings with regards to importance so you would think such a monumental event would be on everybodies lips, but apart from high-fiving scientists, the whole thing seems to have been greeted with a nonchalant shrug by the rest of the population.
The problem is that we just don't really understand what the God particle, or Higgs Boson as they prefer to call it, actually is or what it does or just why it is important.
Mention the words 'subatomic particles' and most of us start willing our phones to ring which is why the BBC News had a go at explaining it with a handful of ping-pong balls, a bag of sugar and a tea tray which started off well until the words 'ubiquitous quantum field' honed into view and you could actually hear the millions of remote control buttons being clicked as televisions across the land switched over to the tennis on BBC2.
So still none the wiser then and flicking through the News channels, there are lot's of science type people having a go at explaining what a Higgs Boson is to people without degrees in quantum physics.
Surprisingly, it was the local newsagent who gave me the clarity i so needed towards understanding what it is.
"Well' he began 'everything is made up of atoms and there are these gaps between atoms but this Higgs chap said there can't be gaps between atoms, there must be something there so that's what they have been looking for and now found. It's the bits you can't see between the bits you can see'. Then he served me with my cigarettes, mentioned how Andy Murray should get to the Wimbledon final this year and went back to marking down some milk that was nearing its sell by date.
I don't know if what he told me is true but it sounded convincing and i repeated it to a friend later who boredly stirred his coffee, humoured me with a smile and pondered if Andy Murray was winning his quarter final match.
Science, when your greatest discovery can't compete with a dour Scotsman winning a game of tennis you know you have an image problem.

1 comment:

McDaddio said...

The now departed lecturer Alan Watts had his theory on the bits you cant see between the bits you can. How did he put it? people are either Prickly people or Gooey People.
The more you magnify an atom you find nothing but waves or goo between all the prickly particles.
or words to that effect.
I think today I'm prickly goo.
Fed up with all this rain.